How to Sleep with Sunburn in 5 Easy Ways

Sunburns are quite common, especially among those who work outside or during the summer months. If left untreated, the consequences can be serious. It has been identified that sunburn can alter DNA and lead to the vigorous death of the charred skin part.

That’s why it’s important to know how to sleep with sunburn so that we can stay prepared. 

The redness and inflammation that characterizes sunburn are painful and often result in distressed sleep, which in turn affects the quality of life. However, if treated in time and with caution, it’s possible to reduce its severity.

In this article, we will learn how to sleep with sunburn and also look at some quick ways to deal with it. 

How to Sleep with Sunburn
How to Sleep with Sunburn?

How to Sleep with Sunburn (5 Easy Tricks Revealed)

Sleeping with sunburnt skin is painful. Apart from the fact that the skin is red and swollen, it’s also sore and tender to touch. Under such circumstances, sleeping on the sheets causes friction on the skin and can worsen the condition. Thus a lot of precaution is required to ensure that the damaged skin is not disturbed further. 

But if we master the art of how to sleep with sunburn, then we can very easily tackle most of the issues. Here, I have tried to explain some of the methods that worked for me in the past. Let’s start!

Wear Protective Clothes and Use Sunscreen

It’s said prevention is better than cure, and that applies to sunburn too. Thus, wearing protective clothes and sunscreen is essential to protect you against the harsh sun rays; however, even if you do get sunburnt, applying aloe vera gel, over-the-counter medication, coupled with some other effective cures, can resolve your problem.

How to sleep with sunburn on the back?
How to sleep with sunburn on the back?

It’s absolutely essential to avoid any sort of friction while sleeping. However, it must be borne in mind that there is no immediate remedy for sunburn, and it takes time. 

Use Moisturizer/Aloe Vera on Your Skin

There might be redness and discomfort on your shoulder due to the sunburn. In that case, use aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce the swelling and redness. You can also try a light layer of moisturizer or aloe vera on your skin before your sleep.

Finally, position yourself in a way so that the affected parts do not get rubbed, thereby increasing the pain.  

Try Soaking Your Feet in Cold Water

Sunburnt feet can lead to increased discomfort and skin irritation. One of the best things to do before going to bed is soak your feet in cold water. You can use other household ingredients to help with the swelling, like baking soda or apple cider vinegar.

How to sleep with sunburn on your legs?
How to sleep with sunburn on your legs?

After 10 minutes, pat it dry and apply a thin layer of moisturizer. It’s also important to avoid any sort of friction while you sleep to expedite the healing process. Finally, avoid popping the blisters that might occur on your feet.

Try to Keep Your Body Temperature Cool

Besides the general tips for treating sunburn, you need to keep your body temperature cooler to cure faster from a bad burn. A cool body will also relax your arms, improve your sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster. The cooler temperatures will reduce inflammation and redness and also make your skin less itchy.

How to sleep with sunburn on arms?
How to sleep with sunburn on arms?

It’s essential to monitor the temperature of your mattress as it will be directly touching your arms. So, if your mattress traps heat, it’s advisable to use gel padding or a layer of cooling sheet to protect your arms. 

Avoid Friction & Lie On Your Stomach

Similar to your arms and feet, your sunburnt neck too requires care to heal quickly. Thus, for starters, you need to avoid any sort of friction and lie on your stomach for a few days should the need be.

Additionally, you need to moisturize the affected area with aloe vera gel to get some relief. It’s advisable to keep the area hydrated which might otherwise lead to itching and peeling of the skin. 

How do I know if my sunburn is mild or severe?

There are some tell-tale signs that will help you identify the level of your sunburn. You need to monitor your skin condition to make the call.

Mild Sunburn

If you have a mild sunburn, you will experience the following symptoms: 

  • The skin is hot to touch.
  • Red and tender looking skin.
  • Skin feels dehydrated.
  • Rubbing is painful.
  • Appearance of blisters.
  • Peeling of skin on healing.

Thankfully, most of these symptoms can be home-treated. Over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen, aloe lotions, and drinking enough fluid can solve most of these issues. 

Severe Sunburn

However, in case of a serious level of sunburn, the situation may require an advanced treatment level. 

The signs are as follows: 

  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Chills.
  • Fever.
  • Accelerated pulse and breathing.
  • Extreme dehydration.
  • Consciousness loss.
  • Severe blistering.
  • Sore and tender skin.

Severe sunburn can also lead to sunstroke and heat exhaustion, and both of these are medical emergencies. In such cases seeing a doctor is highly recommended. 

Why does sunburn hurt at night?

Sunburn does not start to hurt immediately. It takes a 4-5 hours window for the sunburn to develop and start hurting. The pain reaches its peak in 24 hours. Thus, owing to the timeline, it seems that the sunburn hurts more during the night.

Besides, while sleeping, people move and turn on the bed during the course of the night. This causes the skin to rub, press, and twist on the sheet, causing more pain to the already sensitive, sore, and tender skin. This leads to enhanced pain at night. 

What is the fastest way to get rid of a sunburn?

There are a few home-based remedies that will help you to get rid of sunburn, if not immediately but fast:

What is the fastest way to get rid of a sunburn
What is the fastest way to get rid of a sunburn?
  • Taking a cool shower: Make sure the temperature of the water is low and apply moisturizer right after you are done. 
  • Use Aloe: Pure aloe gel contains cooling and soothing elements; thus, applying it to affected skin can get you immediate relief. 
  • Ice compress: Use an ice pack on the skin directly. Or you can dab a wet (water or milk) washcloth on your skin. According to dermatologists, the vitamins and antioxidants in milk heal the skin. 
  • Drink water: According to AAD, sunburn extracts fluid from the skin; thus, an effective easy way to combat the problem is by drinking as much liquid as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does ice help sunburn?

Yes. An ice pack or even a cool, wet washcloth helps to reduce pain and skin inflammation. 

How long does sunburn on your neck last?

This depends on the level of sunburn. If it’s a mild sunburn, it lasts for 2-3 days. Moderation takes more time, up to 5 days. A severe level of sunburn will require a considerable amount of time to cure.

Does shaving cream help sunburn?

Shaving cream does help soothe the burn to some extent; however, it should not be a go-to option. There are many other ingredients in shaving cream that might worsen the condition. 

Does milk help sunburn?

Yup, it does. Milk contains lactic acids, which function as a mild exfoliate and removes the layer of dead skin from the top of the burn. This results in reduced inflammation. 

Does a wet towel help sunburn?

Water is the most immediate remedy to burnt skin. A cool, wet towel provides the required relief from pulsating heat. 

Does Aloe actually help sunburns?

Indeed. Aloe vera helps to reduce pain, redness, and inflammation. It also boosts collagen production, which expedites the healing process.  


Be it for prolonged sunbathing or working in the heat for long, sunburns are common and can happen to anyone. However, if left untreated, it can get severe and might cause serious damage to your skin.

Thankfully, there are multiple effective household processes to learn how to sleep with sunburn and that you can follow to reduce the effects of sunburn.

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