Picking The Best Temperature For Sleeping: No More Blow Hot, Blow Cold!

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Best Temperature For Sleeping

If sleep is on your mind, know that temperature too can play a big part in how easily you fall asleep and how well you sleep through the night. If you’re too cold, you may wind up waking up often to visit the bathroom. Too hot and you’re likely to sweat and sleep fitfully. Researchers have zeroed in on an ideal range of between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for adults and 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for toddlers and babies. So use bed linen, duvets, the right nightwear, and your thermostat to hit that sweet spot all year round!

Sound sleep can give you that much-needed downtime when the day is done. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. A good mattress, ambient lighting, or the right dinner and bedtime routine are important factors in regulating your body’s circadian rhythms that determine sleep and wakefulness. And so is the right temperature. Researchers have been hunting down the ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep – as it turns out, there is a number you should be gunning for.

Specific Changes In Body Temperature Signal Sleep

Your body goes through a series of highs and lows of temperature in the course of a day. This circadian pattern causes your temperature to peak late afternoon. When you fall asleep, heat is dissipated from the core of your body to the outside. This causes your skin temperature to rise even as your core body temperature dips.1

Your body temperature is at its lowest around 5 am, shortly before you wake from a night’s sleep. This pattern of thermoregulation reveals that sleep is initiated when your body temperature begins its decline for the day, to get to that 5 am low in the 24-hour clock. The decreased heat production and increased loss of heat cool the body down and you begin to feel sleepy. Specifically, about an hour prior to sleep onset is when your body achieves its maximum rate of temperature decline – in other words, you’ll feel sleepy soon after your body experiences a sudden lowering of temperature.2 Researchers have used this information to try and determine the best temperature for the room to help initiate sleep onset.

Don’t Get Too Hot: It Can Cause Wakefulness and Disrupt Your REM And Deep Sleep

If your room is too hot, you may hamper the natural dip in body temperature that should occur at night that signals sleep. This may lead to restlessness at night.3 Interestingly, studies of people with insomnia have even revealed that they often have a higher body temperature than normal and this could be what interferes with their sleep.4

So how can you tell if the room is too warm? It is simple really. If you wake up at night or in the morning from your sleep sweating or if you feel hot and bothered during the night, the room temperature may be too hot.

Higher than optimal room temperatures are also linked to increased wakefulness and causes reduced slow wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.5 Slow wave sleep is the phase that is also called “deep sleep.” REM sleep is a sleep stage needed to help your brain process everything you have experienced during the day. This is critical for helping you form memories. It also helps boost the level of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. In other words, it is a pretty important stage of sleep and missing out on it because your room or bedding is too warm can be detrimental to your well-being overall.6

Too Low A Temperature Could Cause Frequent Rousing For Bathroom Visits

If you keep your room too cold, you may feel the urge to urinate more often. This constant rousing to visit the bathroom can ruin your sleep and leave you feeling drowsy the next day. A phenomenon known as cold-induced diuresis is responsible. It is also what causes you to feel like peeing more in winter. Cold-induced diuresis is basically your body’s way of responding to the low temperatures to avoid hypothermia. It involves constricting blood vessels to slow blood flow to the skin, thus retaining warmth around internal organs. Because your blood pressure rises, the kidneys start to push out excess fluid to cut blood volume and compensate. This leads to higher urine production.7

Finding That Sweet Spot: Around 60°F to 67°F Is Best For Sleep

As per the National Sleep Foundation, you should try and bring down your body temperature and, consequently, of your environment to sleep well. They suggest you try and simulate the environment of a cave – dimly lit, cool, and quiet – for your best shot at sleeping well.8

One study found that lowering skin temperature can help you achieve deeper sleep. It can also reduce how often you wake up at night. For most of us, just having the room at a low enough temperature can achieve this. But for those with chronic sleep disorder and those who have higher body temperatures, sleeping naked may help too. Alternatively, switch to lighter bed linen and nightwear, besides keeping your room cooler.9 But then again, remember the emphasis is on a cool temperature not too cold.

So what is that sweet spot you should be aiming at for a good night’s sleep? According to the experts at the National Sleep Foundation, anywhere between 60°F and 67°F works well for most people.10 Of course, you will need to play around with this a bit to find what is best for you. Use a hot water bottle if you feel cold or wear thicker or thinner nightclothes to help find a mix that is comfortable for you within this range. For babies or little toddlers, a slightly warmer temperature of between 65°F and 70°F is best.11

References   [ + ]

1.Shin, Mirim, Mark Halaki, Paul Swan, Angus H. Ireland, and Chin Moi Chow. “The effects of fabric for sleepwear and bedding on sleep at ambient temperatures of 17 c and 22 c.” Nature and science of sleep 8 (2016): 121.
2.Murphy, Patricia J., and Scott S. Campbell. “Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset?.” Sleep 20, no. 7 (1997): 505-511.
3.Touch. National Sleep Foundation.
4.Getting to the core of insomnia. University of South Australia.
5.Okamoto-Mizuno, Kazue, and Koh Mizuno. “Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm.” Journal of physiological anthropology 31, no. 1 (2012): 14.
6.Sleep Cycles: Everything You Need to Know. National Sleep Foundation.
7.What is Cold Diuresis. Arkansas Urology.
8, 10, 11.The Ideal Temperature for Sleep. National Sleep Foundation.
9.Fronczek, Rolf, Roy JEM Raymann, Sebastiaan Overeem, Nico Romeijn, J. Gert Van Dijk, Gert Jan Lammers, and Eus JW Van Someren. “Manipulation of skin temperature improves nocturnal sleep in narcolepsy.” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 79, no. 12 (2008): 1354-1357.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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