Most people experience a decrease in body temperature as they whisk off to sleep, thanks to the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. But others find their body does just the opposite, leaving them hot and sweaty between the sheets.
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This might be due to hormone imbalances caused by things like menstruation or menopause, or other factors, like eating or drinking alcohol before bed, overactive sweat glands, anxiety or reactions to certain medications, to name just a few, Stephen Light, certified sleep science coach and CMO and co-owner of Nolah Mattress, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Enter: cooling sheets. Specifically designed with lightweight, moisture-wicking material, these kind of sheets are engineered to help you stay comfortable throughout the night. For "hot" sleepers, this may be a solution to overcome nighttime sleep disturbances and achieve deep, restorative sleep, Allison Brager, PhD, neuroscientist, sleep specialist for Molecule and author of Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Here are the best cooling sheets on the market, according to sleep experts, along with what to look for when you're shopping.
Not only are these sheets incredibly soft and gentle on sensitive skin, but they're made from 100 percent eucalyptus lyocell, which is sweat-wicking and cooler than other comparable fabrics like cotton. "Eucalyptus fibers are known for their breathability as well as being natural temperature regulators," Light says.
Because this fabric is super soft, it's also much easier to wash and fold than other sheets. Just place it in the wash on a gentle cycle and tumble dry it on low.
For the eco-friendly folks who also tend to run hot during the night, you'll be pleased to know that these are manufactured sustainably and without harmful dyes or chemicals.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $95
2. Best Linen: Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set
There's a good reason why linen is one of the most popular fabrics to wear during the hot and humid summer months: It's breathable and helps heat flow away from our bodies, Light says. For this reason, he recommends linen sheets as a top choice for hot sleepers.
This set from Brooklinen is made of 100 percent linen, so it has all the cooling properties to keep you feeling comfortable throughout the night as well as the temperature-regulating properties that can help keep you warm in the winter months too.
Another plus about these sheets is that they're OEKO-TEX-certified, which means they meet strict global safety standards, and they're made without harmful chemicals.
Buy it: Brooklinen.com; Price: $109-$179
3. Best on a Budget: DAPU Pure Linen Sheet Set
Because of their advanced technology, cooling sheets are often more expensive than regular sheets. If you're looking to save money without sacrificing quality, consider this set made from 100 percent French linen. Naturally grown and processed out of Normandy without the use of harsh chemicals or additives, these sheets give you that soft, smooth feeling all while keeping your temperature in check throughout the night.
French natural linen is a self-cleaning fiber, so you don't have to wash it as often as other sheets, according to the company. Linen is also significantly more breathable than other fabrics, so it helps absorb moisture to prevent sweating.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $125-$165
4. Best Luxury Buy: Boll & Branch Percale Hemmed Sheet Set
Cool and crisp with an incredibly soft texture, this sheet set is worth every penny, according to reviewers. It's made from 100 percent GOTS-certified organic cotton that's ethically and sustainably produced and is hand-finished with careful attention to detail.
The type of textile weave used is percale, which is an element that should not be overlooked, as it has a huge effect on how the fabric feels. "Think of this as a classic 'over one, under one' weave, also known as a checkerboard pattern," says Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. "This type of weave leaves a matte finish compared to sateen sheets and a crisper feel similar to a classic Oxford shirt."
Buy it: BollandBranch.com; Price: $188-$348
5. Best for Different Seasons: Hush Iced Cooling Sheet and Pillowcase Set
"This sheet is very comfortable and is specially designed for people with sensitivity and breakouts, and also made to reduce hair frizz and prevent bedhead," says Daniel Boyer, MD, a physician with the Farr Institute, which publishes research on direct-to-consumer health services.
As the name suggests, these sheets are naturally cooling as well as anti-bacterial and sweat-wicking, because they're made from 100 percent organic viscose bamboo.
Another major plus is that these sheets don't pill after several cycles in the washing machine. They hold their shape and texture, according to reviewers — some of whom claim the sheets get softer with each wash.
Buy it: HushBlankets.com; Price: $99-$129
6. Best Cotton: Riley Percale Sheet Set
Crisp, cool and comfortable are good words to describe this sheet set made from 100 percent premium long-staple combed cotton percale. This particular weave helps regulate your body temperature to keep you from sweating and overheating in the middle of the night when you should be peacefully asleep.
The entire bedding line is certified by OEKO-TEX, which means it's tested to live up to quality standards — no harsh chemicals, additives or substances of any kind.
The only catch with this kind of sheet is that it requires a bit of extra care. These should be washed on warm and tumble dried on low. Don't bleach or dry clean for optimal longevity.
Buy it: RileyHome.com; Price: $99-$149 (additional $80 for flat sheet)
7. Best Bamboo: Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set
Bamboo sheets are an excellent choice for hot sleepers because they have that luxurious feel of hotel-style sheets with the cooling properties that bamboo naturally provides. These ones are 100 percent bamboo viscose, which is made from the cellulose of the bamboo plant. In addition to being silky, soft to the touch and elegant, they help regulate your body temperature and keep heat at bay.
Viscose bamboo is also naturally hypoallergenic, making them suitable for people who are allergic to some materials.
Unlike some other cooling sheets, this set requires a cold wash to uphold the integrity of its moisture-wicking abilities. The company also recommends line drying whenever possible as opposed to a tumble dry.
Buy it: CozyEarth.com; Price: $223-$307
What to Look for in Cooling Sheets
Before you set out to buy the best cooling sheets, here are some important factors to keep in mind:
The size of the sheet should directly correlate with the size of your mattress (i.e. full, queen, king) in order to assure a good fit. However, certain mattresses are deeper than others, so it's important to keep in mind the depth of your mattress when purchasing sheets.
Keep in mind that price is not always the best indicator of quality. That being said, high-quality cooling sheets are hardly ever cheap. In fact, sometimes buying the cheapest one means lower quality manufacturing and materials, warns Jeff Rodgers, DMD, who specializes in dental sleep medicine. A good range to expect to pay for cooling sheets is between $75 and $200, he says.
Some materials, like linen, cotton and lyocell (including Tencel), are more breathable and moisture-wicking than others, Smita Patel, DO, integrative neurologist and sleep medicine physician, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "Even if you don't have issues with heat, choosing a lightweight material is ideal since cooler temperatures help you sleep peacefully through the night," she says.
For hot sleepers, she usually recommends 100 percent organic cotton because it hasn't been processed with harmful chemicals. "You may notice that it feels softer and is more breathable than conventional cotton," she adds.
4. Thread Count
Contrary to what you might have heard, higher isn't always better when it comes to thread count, especially when it comes to cooling.
"Tighter fabrication often accompanies higher thread counts, which means less breathability and more heat," Light says. He recommends that hot sleepers shoot for a lower thread count — somewhere in the 200 to 300 range — to get the best cooling effect.
Weave patterns are important to take note of when choosing a cooling sheet, notes Light. "Picture a weave pattern in your mind; what we're looking for with cooling sheets is that the pattern allows for body heat to flow through," he says. "Patterns like grids or innovative trellis weaves increase a sheet's ability to cool down a hot sleeper."
Durability is an important feature in something that you intend on using nightly. Because we tend to move around in our sleep, Peter Polos, MD, PhD, sleep medicine specialist and Sleep Number sleep expert, recommends sheets that can adjust to movements without disrupting sleep. "A fully elasticized edge, elastic corner seams and anchor bands keep fitted sheets in place," he says.
7. Ease of Care
Certain sheets have certain protocols when it comes to washing and drying — some can be thrown in the washer and dryer, while others need to be hung dry. To make sure your sheets last through the years, it's important to make sure you understand the maintenance required and that you can keep up with it easily.