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Cooling Sheets: How They Work and What to Look For

Posted by Nicholas Crusie on

"Cooling sheets" may seem a little counter intuitive given that a sheet has classically been thought of as something that keeps you warm. 

A sheet keeps you warmer because it rests closer to your skin and therefore traps more of your body heat. Cooling sheets are created to be extra breathable and moisture wicking to help your body stay cool during the night. 

Why is Staying Cool Important?

As the body begins to fall asleep at night, all of its functions begin to slow down and our body temperature naturally drops around 1-2 degrees

The human body sleeps better when it's cooler. 

Sleep scientists tell us we should be sleeping in a room that is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A cooler room can help trigger our body into falling asleep and staying asleep. A cooler temperature also stimulates our body's release of melatonin, which likely explains why the feelings of tiredness and cold usually go hand in hand. 

When our bodies begin to get tired at night, they start to cool themselves down. Being in a cold room can encourage this process and help our bodies fall asleep. 

Being cool while we sleep is not only generally most comfortable, but is also optimal for our health:

Supports weight management 

As our body temperature drops at night, human growth hormone is released and the level of cortisol (the stress chemical) in our body decreases. Human growth hormone helps our tissues and muscles repair themselves. The more muscle we have, the more calories our bodies will burn in a resting state. A decrease in cortisol level, which is linked to appetite, means we are also less likely to fall prey to sugar cravings during the day. 

Supports the body's natural temperature cycle 

Our bodies fluctuate in temperature throughout the 24 hour period in the day. Our bodies are coldest in the mornings around 5 a.m. and warmest in the early evening. This is because we spend all day moving around, thinking, eating, and exercising, all of which raises our internal temperature. Our body temperature is coldest around 5 a.m. because by this time we've been sleeping for several hours and our body has had the chance to completely cool down. 

Prevents night sweats

Night sweats are your body's way of telling you that it's too hot. Excessive sweating is not only extremely unpleasant and disruptive to your sleep, but can also even leave you feeling dehydrated and dizzy the next day. Sweating at night is also soiling your bed sheets. While washing or changing the sheets every day may not be possible, avoiding night sweats is. 

It will keep you looking young 

When our body temperature drops at night, the body releases melatonin, anti-aging hormones, and growth hormones. These chemicals are extremely reparative and regenerative and play a big role in keeping us looking youthful. 

What Are Cooling Sheets Made of?

There are a few different fabrics that can have cooling properties. It's important to keep in mind that the way sheets are made varies between companies; there is no "one size fits all" for what cooling sheets are made of. That being said, there a few fabrics that are better suited for helping you stay cool at night:

Cotton

Cotton is one of the most breathable fabrics out there. Cotton is usually woven less tightly than other materials, which allows it to be more permeable, thus allowing for more air circulation. 

Bamboo

Bamboo is another popular material for cooling sheets because bamboo is lightweight and breathable. 

Microfibers

Microfiber sheets are made of threads that are, you guessed it, micro. Being made of micro-threads allows these sheets to be lightweight and have bigger (but still tiny) holes in it. 

Natural silver 

Some companies have ventured into new ways of creating cooling sheets. Natural silver can be carefully woven into fabric and has several benefits, including cooling properties. Silver sheets actually feel cooler to the touch than normal sheets. Just like how silver spoons feel cold to touch even when they have been sitting at room temperature, silver bedding feels the same. 

Natural silver technology has other benefits too; it can prevent odor, deter bacterial growth, and promote healthy skin. 

Silver ions (which are woven into the fabric) contain a positive charge that attaches to bacteria like a magnet and prevents 99.9% of bacterial growth from the inside out. 

By preventing bacterial growth, your sheets are staying cleaner; which means less chance for developing odor and laundry can be done less frequently. Having cleaner sheets also means your skin will be happier because it isn't rubbing against dirty fabric all night long. 

Look for sheets that are made of cotton, bamboo, or microfibers. If you're looking to up your sleeping experience, try cooling sheets made with natural silver technology

Looking at the weave of sheets can be another indicator of how they will regulate temperature. Percale sheets are better for keeping you cool at night.  

Percale

Percale sheets use a tight and flat weave that results in a cool and crisp feeling sheet. You may think that a tight weave indicates that it will keep you warm, but percale is actually the preferred weave for helping your body stay cool at night. Percale sheets are made from thinner yarn, which results in a more lightweight and breathable final product. 

Sateen

Sateen sheets have a heavier feel to them because they are woven with thicker yarn. A heavier sheet means it will also lay closer to your skin, making it harder for your body heat to escape. 

Other Ways to Stay Cool at Night

Environment

Keep the blinds or curtains closed during the day to prevent sunlight from heating up your bedroom. This is a time-old trick that hotter countries have been using for decades. If you live in a hot climate or it's simply a hot, sunny day, keeping sunlight out can make a big difference for your room temperature. 

Take a shower before you get into bed

Showering before bed will lower your body temperature, meaning you're bringing less heat into bed with you from the get go. A cold shower works best, but a brief warm shower will work too. (When you hop out of a warm shower, the air around you will immediately feel cooler than the water you were just in, this will leave you feeling relatively colder. As long as the shower isn't too hot or for too long, showering in warm water will still have the cooling effect.

Check your sleeping attire

Sleeping naked is actually the ideal state for staying cool at night because your body is free to self-regulate its temperature. If sleeping naked isn't your cup of tea, wear loose pajamas. Pajamas that hug your body closely will trap your own body heat and actually make you hotter. Pajamas that are made of cotton are the best for sleeping because cotton is breathable and also able to absorb any moisture that may occur.  

Avoid food and exercise a few hours before bed

Intense exercise and consuming big meals raise your internal temperature. Try to schedule your workout for earlier in the day to allow your body to return to its resting temperature before having to fall asleep. Having a hearty meal may seem like something that would help you sleep well at night, but it can actually have the opposite effect; digestion is a busy process for our bodies and can raise our temperature because our stomach needs to work hard to digest our food. 

We hope these tips were helpful! Stay cool!~

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/what-happens-body-during-sleep

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29558391/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/natasha-turner-nd/sleeping-naked_b_3381630.html

https://www.tuck.com/sleeping-naked-good/

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