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What is the Best Temperature for Sleeping?

Malena Piper

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Did you know there really is a “best” room temperature when you’re trying to get a good night’s rest? One study in 2012 found temperature is one of the most important elements when trying to attain quality sleep. If your room is too hot or too cold when you go to bed, it could disrupt your sleep or cause health problems.

Body temperature is tied to your circadian rhythm; the natural inner process regulating your sleep schedule. Your temperature varies slightly throughout the day, then instinctively lowers by 1 to 2 degrees when you fall asleep. Keeping a slightly cooler room aids in this process by allowing your body to release heat and stay cool. Here we will discuss not only what the ideal sleeping temperature is, but also ways to reach it.

Ideal Sleeping Temperature

While opinion slightly varies, most scientists agree the ideal sleeping temperature for adults is around 65°F (18.3°C). (However, recommendations range from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.)

You’ll want to raise the room temperature by a few degrees for infants, though, as they cannot regulate their temperature as easily as adults. Babies also do not sleep with as many covers to prevent SIDS, meaning they require a slightly warmer room. At the same time, overheating in babies can happen easily if a room is too hot, and could potentially cause SIDS. The recommended room temperature for babies is 68° to 72°F (20° to 22.2°C).

Why Room Temperature During Sleep Matters

Heat impacts sleep more than cooler temperatures since excessive heat prevents the normal decrease in body temperature during sleep, which is essential to the sleep cycle. During the first stage of sleep, the body temperature lowers by one or two degrees, and sleeping in a cooler room facilitates that drop. That sad, a too-cold room can still hurt sleep, and even impact heart health, because your heart must work harder to keep you warm. Not to mention, being too cold can also increase the chance of blood clots.

During sleep, the body cools itself by expanding the blood vessels. Sleep is also a restorative time where your blood pressure goes down, and the body repairs your heart and muscles. As sleep is both mentally and physically restoring, it’s important to consider all factors—including room temperature—when optimizing your sleep cycle.

Too Hot

A too-hot room has been shown to cause a lack of REM and deep sleep, the most restorative parts of sleep. A too-warm room can prevent the body from reducing its internal thermostat as you rest. If the body isn’t able to cool down properly, REM sleep may be interrupted.

Why is REM so important? Lack of REM sleep has been linked to multiple health issues, including the following:

  • higher risk of obesity
  • depression
  • cardiovascular disease

You are most likely to have sleep issues caused by heat during the summer. A study using data from 765,000 survey respondents found it is most difficult to regulate body temperature during sleep in the summer. Difficulty regulating temperature could mean you are more likely to suffer a lack of sleep; potentially causing health issues during the hotter months.

Too Cold

Aside from waking up to pull blankets over yourself, a too-cold room isn’t likely to disturb your sleep cycle much. However, it may cause other health issues. If you are too cold when you sleep, your body’s regulating functions may change, which could affect your heart’s health. Heart problems can cause other related issues, such as sleep apnea. As a result, we still do not recommend sleeping in a room with a temperature below 60°F.

How To Reach The Perfect Room Temperature

While simply raising or lowering the air conditioning is the easiest way to regulate your room temperature, it is not always an option. If you do have air conditioning, keep the thermostat slightly warmer during the day (around 70-72°F), then lower it by a few degrees before you go to sleep at night. Lowering the heat slightly allows your sleep cycle to stay on track by helping your body to naturally cool down at night. Below, we explore ways to regulate your temperature during sleep, whether you have access to AC or not.

To Cool Down

Sleep is often the most irregular during summer months due to heat. This will especially be true for those living in warmer climates. There are many available options to regulate temperature when it’s hot out. Below, we have listed a few easy ways to keep your room nice and cool.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is the easiest way to keep your room perfectly cool. It is simple to adjust the room’s temperature to a specific setting, making air conditioning more exact than other methods. In most cases, just use the “down” arrow until you have reached the appropriate temperature to keep your room comfortable.

Use a Fan

Fans offer a much more affordable option to stay cool than air conditioning, and will still help to chill your room during hot weather. For the best position, place the fan toward the bed with the windows shut. Facing the fan this way allows you to fall asleep to a relaxing, gentle breeze. For an especially hot room, try putting a bowl of ice in front of your fan. The fan will blow the chilled air from the ice bowl in your direction while you rest and ease night sweats.

Use Lightweight Fabrics

While they may be suitable for the colder months, warmer bedding such as insulated comforters could overheat your body during the summer. To prevent overheating, opt for lightweight blankets, duvets and comforters; use cotton or Tencel sheets; and look for thread counts within the 300 range. If you have trouble staying cool while trying to sleep, wearing lightweight clothes (like cotton) to bed may help as well.

To Stay Warm

Staying warm enough throughout the night will help you stay comfortable, and it can also benefit your health. There are multiple ways to keep warm if you have a too-cold room when a heater isn’t available. To learn more about how to easily stay warm throughout the night, keep reading below.

Keep Your Feet Warm

Heat escapes through the extremities during the first stages of sleep; therefore, simply wearing warm socks to bed will help keep your entire body warmer throughout the night. As an alternative, you can place a hot water bottle at your feet to keep your toes toasty. Keeping your feet warm is a good solution for those who may like the chill air of a cooler room, but still need to keep their body temperature higher.

Use Heavier Bedding and Pajamas

Another way to stay warm is to pair your comforter and sheets with extra cozy blankets. Thicker fabrics like wool or flannel retain the most heat. Plus, the layers of blankets themselves create additional insulation, helping to trap heat. You can even use a heated blanket for additional warmth.

If you wake up cold during the night, we also suggest wearing warmer clothes to bed. Wool socks are both comfortable and well-insulated, and heavyweight socks made for skiing or hiking can also keep your feet warm. For pajamas, flannel is often readily available and will help to keep your body temperature up, but at that same time, is also a very breathable fabric so you won’t feel overheated.

FAQs

Why do my hands and feet get warmer when I sleep?

When your internal temperature starts to lower at night, body heat escapes through your extremities to cool your core temperature, and as a result, your hands and feet feel warmer.

As you progress further into sleep, your hands and feet will return to a more normal temperature. However, they may still feel slightly cooler since your overall core temperature is lowered.

Is my mattress making me hot?

Some mattresses do retain heat and cause night sweats, however, some people are just prone to sleeping hot. To tell if your mattress is causing your overheating, look at its materials.

Memory foam is known to absorb heat because it’s denser and made with synthetic materials. (However, you can find cooling memory foam mattresses with gel infusions and plant-based foams if you’re interested in one of these beds.) Natural latex mattresses are breathable; but synthetic latex beds, like memory foam, are hot. Mattresses with springs, such as hybrids and innersprings, allow for plenty of airflow since they have an open coil system.

If your bed is causing night sweats, but buying a new mattress isn’t an option, look at mattress toppers. Many newer ones, such as gel foam toppers, are designed to keep sleepers cool.

I still can’t sleep, what should I do?

Some ways to improve your sleep include avoiding bright or blue light before bed, exercising during the day, and eliminating caffeine at night. If these or other basic sleep remedies still do not help, you may have an underlying sleep issue on your hands. In this case, we recommend talking through your concerns and symptoms with a sleep specialist.

Could sleeping in the heat be causing me stress?

The easy answer is yes! Studies have shown sleeping in a too-hot environment can increase levels of the hormone cortisol the next morning, which causes stress. To avoid this, pay attention to the temperature of your room when you are falling asleep. If you feel hot, it might be time to turn the air conditioning down or grab a fan.

How does my circadian rhythm affect me?

Your circadian rhythm is tied to your sleep cycle and helps to dictate when you sleep. Due to this, disruptions to your circadian rhythm, such as those caused by heat, can lead to health problems such as weight gain, slower thinking, and increased impulsivity.

Conclusion

Setting your thermostat to the best temperature for sleep, around 60 to 67 degrees, is important for both your quality of rest and physical well-being. If you sleep in a room that is either too hot or too cold, it could disrupt your REM sleep or cause health problems. By finding the best temperature for your sleep, you can ensure that you get the most out of a good night’s rest.

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