It's easy to know when you feel too warm or too cold at night, but what does science say about the ideal temperature for our bodies while we sleep? Is there an optimal setting on your thermostat for the best sleeping conditions?
A small adjustment to your overnight household temp or even just the temp of your bed could significantly improve your quality of sleep. In fact, changes in temperature are one of your brain's biological queues to know its bedtime.
To enjoy a deeper, healthier, and more satisfying sleep experience let’s take a look at a few key considerations.
Spoiler alert: It's not just about your body temperature; it's the temperature your brain is trying to achieve for better sleep!
What Is The Best Bedroom Temperature For Sleeping?
The ideal temperature for your bedroom is agreed to be between 60° F (15° C) and 67° F (19° C). It does vary within that range from person-to-person. Also, infants and the elderly both have a slightly warmer ideal range between 65° F (18° C) and 70° F (21° C).
The Light Side, The Dark Side, and the Circadian Rhythm
These particular ranges exist because as you fall to sleep, the core temperature of your body drops slightly in order to slow your respiratory rate and your heart rate. Daylight (or the lack thereof) is the primary driving force that helps regulate your Circadian Rhythm, which is a fancy term for your twenty-four-hour wake/sleep cycle. This cycle also includes the release of the sleep hormone melatonin in addition to several other factors, including the maintenance of your body temperature.
Sleeping with the temperature in the range mentioned above helps facilitate your body's nighttime thermoregulation. This regulation, in turn, results in that deeper and more restorative sleep that is essential to good health.
Is It Better To Sleep In The Cold Or Warm?
It is better to sleep in a slightly cooler bed or room, which helps the natural drop in your body temperature as you fall asleep.
The drop in body temperature is a result of our Circadian Rhythm as well. Our coldest body temperature during the night is roughly two hours before waking, and it rises gradually after that.
A Quick Fact:
REM cycles occur when you are sleeping deepest and also when you are experiencing dreams. The typical person experiences several distinct REM cycles throughout the night with the last two occurring during the same time frame where your body is at its coldest.
Is It Healthy To Sleep In A Cold Room?
Yes, in general, it is healthier for you to sleep in a slightly chillier room. You may be concerned about waking up shivering, but a colder room actually equates to deeper sleep. You may be surprised how much better you sleep if you regulate the temperature between 60° F (15° C) and 67° F (19° C).
Sleep and Your Overall Health: Chilly Room Logic
Sleep deprivation can be a cause of a massive list of health issues, including:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- interruptions in cognitive functions (such as memory, reasoning, and attention)
You could go so far as to say it is not only healthy but healthier to sleep in a slightly chillier room.
The issue of sleeping in a colder room does bring up another question we should consider, though:
What Temperature Is Too Cold For Sleep?
Any temperature below 54° F (12° C) is disruptive to our sleep. Not only does it cause discomfort that can wake you up from deep sleep but also interferes with the optimal sleeping temperature our bodies require.
Keep in mind also that a lot of heat escapes our bodies through our heads and feet. Wearing socks to bed can be an excellent way to fend of the dreaded feeling of waking up with cold toes.
What About Too Warm?
It might be useful to mention that as much as a room that is too cold is not suitable for our sleep cycles, a room that is too warm will also disrupt your sleep and cause issues. Any temperatures above 72° F (22° C) will have a similar impact on your sleep as sleeping in a temperature which is too cold will.
How Can I Lower My Body Temperature While Sleeping?
If lowering the entire temperature of your home is impractical, it may make more sense to lower the temperature in just your bed. Using no blankets may not be the best option considering a cover helps provide an intuitive sense of protection and comfort. However, using fewer blankets can aid in lowering your body temperature. A weighted blanket made from a thin material can serve as the best of both worlds.
Your Bed 2.0: Tech and Gadgets
Alternatively, there are some very clever gadgets designed to help maintain the best temperature for sleeping. A few of these are actual mats or pads such as the Chilipad which circulates warm or cold water through small tubes in a comfortable pad that you sleep on during the night.
Something else we all can relate to is those times during the night where we wake up with our pillow feeling like it is way too warm. Flipping it over can provide temporary relief, but waking up multiple times a night to do this can be an annoying interruption to our sleep that can add up over time. A solution to that issue could be to use a pillow specifically designed to stay cooler as you sleep, such as the Moona Smart Pillow.
Why Does Being Cold Make You Sleepy?
While you sleep your heart rate and breathing slow down as your body cools. If the temperature of your body is gently and gradually lowered to the temperature which is best for sleep, you will naturally begin to feel sleepy as your processes begin to slow down in the same way they do while you are asleep. You can sort of look at it as a very healthy and natural micro-hypothermia! (Don't worry. Perfectly safe!)
Think about it this way: When our bodies cool down, they are preparing for sleep. This effect actually begins to happen in the late afternoon. When the temperature of our bodies rises in the morning, our brain is signaling us to move into a state of wakeful alertness.
Don't Be Shocked
Conversely, if you experience a quick gust of cold air on your face such as opening your car window while driving on a cold day, it can actually serve as a shock which speeds up both your heart rate and breathing. This type of cold has the opposite impact as gentle and gradual cooling does.
Why Does Being Warm Make You Sleepy?
Ironically, as your body temperature rises, your internal temperature begins to drop to compensate for the change. This change is what will cause the sleepy feeling you experience. Your body and brain know that cold means sleep, and if your body is over-correcting due to warm external conditions, you will naturally begin to feel that slump. Hot beverages or a warm bath or shower can also cause this same effect.
Warmth can be an excellent way to help you feel sleepy, but it's not the best for keeping you asleep. Which is why taking time to make sure you are within that perfect sleeping temperature range is one of your most crucial bedtime resources.
Don't cut out the warm milk; just don't rely on it for a healthy, full night's rest!
Falling asleep and staying asleep are both critical factors in your health. Quality sleep has many components such as the amount of disruptive or jarring noise you can hear while sleeping, or how much light is in your sleeping environment. Just as important as these factors are the temperature of your bed or your room.
Keeping your bed at an optimal temperature can help give your nightly recharge an extra boost, and you will wake up more refreshed. You will be more capable of tackling the day and better equipped to avoid the harmful health consequences of low-quality sleep.
Sleep well, and sleep cooler!
( Specifically 60° F (15° C) and 67° F (19° C) )