Sleeping With Sunburn: What You Need To Know

Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging when you’re dealing with the pain and discomfort of sunburn.

Sunburn not only causes your skin to feel hot and sensitive, but it can also make it hard to find a comfortable position to go to be in.

However, there are some strategies that can help you get the sleep you need, even when your skin is feeling the after-effects of too much time in the sun.

It’s essential to take care of your sunburned skin before going to bed.

This means applying soothing and moisturizing treatments to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

It’s also important to make adjustments to your sleep environment to minimize further irritation and keep you as comfortable as possible throughout the night.

In this article, we’ll discuss some practical tips for sleeping with sunburn, so you can still get the rest you need even when your skin is itching and burning like crazy.

How to Sleep with Sunburn?

Getting a good night’s sleep with sunburn can be challenging, especially when your skin is sensitive and inflamed.

Here are several strategies to help you sleep comfortably with sunburn.

Choosing the Right Sleep Position

Adjusting your sleep position can help minimize the pressure on sunburned areas, making it easier for you to get some rest:

Elevate the affected area

If your sunburn is on your legs or feet, try propping them up on pillows to reduce swelling and discomfort.

Sleeping on your back with a sunburn


Sleeping on your back is a very common position for a person to sleep in. If you have not been burnt on your back, sleeping on your back is the best way to go. Then you are able to avoid lying on the areas that have been burned.

A person who lies on their back is also able to avoid rubbing against the burn. As such, they will be less prone to blisters forming and will therefore heal better and faster.

Tip: You may find it more difficult to sleep on your back or stomach if you have a sunburn near your face (check out how to help yourself rest easier with a sunburn).

Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your side is also a very common position for a person to sleep in. This is the same as above.

If you have not burnt your side, you should try to sleep on your side. Then you are able to avoid lying on the areas that have been burned.

You will also be able to maximize the air flow that can get to the burnt areas of your body. This is not only great for preventing blisters from forming but it also helps in the healing process.

As long as you are lying on a non-rough surface, you should be able to comfortably sleep this way.

Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach is an odd position to sleep in for many people. If you do have a sunburn, this is not recommended because it will cause the burns to smother and will not allow for any air flow.

Sleeping on your stomach can also cause blisters to form and will increase the risk of infection.

Because of these dangers, sleeping on your stomach with a sunburn is not recommended.

The best way to get some sleep with a sunburn – especially if you don’t want to change positions or sleep upright – is by sleeping on your side with some pillows to prop you up a little bit.

You can just roll from your back to your side if you need to, but try not to rub the rough skin against anything too much.

Disclaimer: The way you sleep with sunburn may not work for everyone. If you are uncomfortable while sleeping, you can always try changing positions or sleeping upright.

Remember that there is no “right” way to sleep with a sunburn, and this information does not replace the advice of a professional.

Wearing Loose Clothing

Choose soft, breathable, and loose-fitting clothes for sleeping to avoid irritation on your sunburned skin:

  • Cotton: Wear clothing made of 100% cotton, as it’s a gentle and breathable fabric that’s kinder to sunburned skin.
  • Avoid tight styles: Steer clear of tight, restrictive clothing that may exacerbate your sunburn pain.
  • Skip elastic bands: Elastic waistbands or cuffs can dig into your skin and cause discomfort. Opt for drawstring closures instead.

Using Soft Bedding

Invest in gentle and soft bedding materials to create a comfortable sleep environment for your sunburned skin:

  • Satin sheets: Satin sheets help reduce friction between your skin and the sheets, providing extra comfort for sunburned skin.
  • Cotton pillowcases: Just like clothing, pillowcases made of 100% cotton are less likely to irritate your skin.
  • Avoid heavy blankets: Heavy blankets can create too much pressure on your sunburn, so choose a lightweight quilt or throw instead.
  • Use extra pillows: Pillows can help you prop up sunburned areas like arms and legs to keep them elevated and alleviate pain.

Soothing Sunburnt Skin before Bed

Getting a good night’s sleep when dealing with sunburn can be a challenge. Below, we will cover some effective methods to soothe sunburnt skin before bed.

Using Topical Treatments

Applying the right topical treatments can help reduce inflammation, ease pain, and provide a soothing effect on your sunburnt skin. Some options include:

  • Aloe Vera Gel: Known for its cooling and soothing properties, aloe vera can help moisturize your skin and promote healing. Apply a thin layer on the affected area before bedtime.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream: Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can provide temporary relief from itching and inflammation. Apply as directed on the package.

Applying Cold Compresses

Cold compresses can help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort caused by sunburn. To make a cold compress:

  1. Fill a plastic bag with ice or use a bag of frozen vegetables.
  2. Wrap the bag in a soft cloth or towel.
  3. Gently press the cold compress against the sunburnt skin for 10-15 minutes.

Take breaks between applications, but you can use cold compresses several times before bedtime to help soothe your sunburnt skin.

Staying Hydrated

Sunburn can leave your skin feeling dehydrated and parched. Drinking plenty of fluids and moisturizing your skin can help combat this:

  • Drink water: Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and before bedtime.
  • Moisturize your skin: Apply a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer to the affected area after your shower or bath and before bedtime to help restore your skin’s moisture balance.

With these tips, you’ll be better prepared to soothe your sunburnt skin and get the rest you need for the night.

Understanding Sunburn

Sunburn occurs when the skin is overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or other sources like tanning beds.

UV radiation causes damage to the skin cells, resulting in inflammation, redness, and pain.

There are two types of UV radiation that cause sunburn, UVA and UVB.

UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause premature aging, while UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburn and skin cancer.

Both types of rays are harmful and require adequate protection.

The intensity of sunburn varies depending on factors such as skin type, duration of exposure, and the amount of UV radiation.

Those with fair skin, for example, are more susceptible to sunburn compared to those with darker skin tones.

Remember that even on cloudy days, UV radiation can penetrate through the clouds and cause sunburn.

Some common symptoms of sunburn include:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Warm and tender skin
  • Blistering
  • Peeling of the skin
  • Headaches, fever, and chills in severe cases

Sunburn can have potentially long-lasting effects.

In extreme cases, it may lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or an increased risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Therefore, taking precautions to prevent sunburn and seeking prompt treatment when it occurs is essential.

Preventing Sunburn

Preventing sunburn is crucial to avoid discomfort and potential long-term effects on your skin.

Taking the proper precautions can help prevent sunburns and allow for a more restful sleep.

Follow these tips to minimize the risk of sunburn.


Applying Sunscreen:

  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Apply it generously 15-20 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.

Protective Clothing:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible.
  • Some clothing materials block out more UV rays than others. Choose tightly woven fabrics to block more sunlight.
  • Opt for wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.

Seek Shade:

  • Avoid direct sun exposure during peak hours (10 am to 4 pm).
  • Utilize shade from trees, umbrellas, and awnings when available.

Keep an eye on the time

Sunburns are usually caused by either long exposure to the sun or heat and humidity. By being aware of how long you have been in these conditions, you might be able to avoid sunburns in the future.

For example, if it’s 90 degrees on a sunny day, then you should not stay out for more than one hour at a time. If it is humid outside, then you can stay out for two hours at most.

Following these steps can help you minimize sun exposure and reduce the risk of sunburn, making it easier to sleep comfortably at night.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Sunburn is often a minor issue that can be managed with home remedies. However, there are cases when medical attention should be sought.

It is crucial to identify the symptoms indicating the need for professional care. These include:

  • Severe sunburn covering a large area of the body
  • Intense pain and discomfort
  • High fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Signs of infection, such as pus or increased redness

It is essential to closely monitor your sunburn and seek medical help if your condition worsens or if you have any concerns.

Keep in mind that prompt medical attention can prevent complications and promote a quicker recovery.


In conclusion, sleeping with sunburn can be a challenging experience, but with the right preparation and care, it can be more comfortable.

By taking the necessary precautions, such as staying hydrated, properly treating your sunburn, and creating a conducive sleep environment, you can ensure a better night’s sleep.

When dealing with sunburn, prevention is always better than treatment.

Ensure you use sun protection such as sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses while outdoors, especially during peak sun hours.

While relief measures for sunburn cannot completely remove the discomfort, they do help alleviate some of the pain experienced.

Remember, always consult a healthcare professional for severe sunburns or if you experience any complications.

Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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