What is the Best Temperature for Sleep?
Learn why you should sleep with your bedroom cool and how temperature impacts sleep quality.
Jan 27th, 2021 •
Have you ever been cold as you crawled into bed and piled on the covers only to wake up in the middle of the night sweating? Or maybe you’ve had a fever and found it impossible to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Believe it or not, temperature is one of the most important factors for getting a good night’s sleep.
The best room temperature for sleep is usually between 60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 -19 Celsius) and it can make all the difference for a good night’s sleep.
Our bodies have an internal clock, known as a circadian rhythm, that operates on a 24-hour cycle. Included in that cycle is an internal thermostat that naturally rises and falls as a result of fluctuating hormone levels which trigger these changes in core body temperature. As daylight begins to wane, the body releases a hormone called melatonin which prepares the body for sleep. One of these preparations is a drop in body temperature that occurs roughly 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime. This is the body’s way of slowing down its systems.
The primary reason our core body temperature drops during sleep is that a lower body temperature takes less energy to maintain. As a result, the body can redirect this saved energy for nocturnal jobs, such as the repair and regeneration of cells. However, if you are sick or your environment is too hot or cold, the body has to divert its energy into regulating temperature. This process stimulates the body and can wake you up from even very deep sleep.
Another reason it’s important to stay cool while we sleep is that a cooler sleeping environment helps promote deep sleep. The two deepest stages of sleep, stage three of non-REM sleep and REM sleep, are necessary for all kinds of healthy functioning. There are both physiological processes like tissue repair, and psychological processes such as memory consolidation, that occur during these stages. Sleeping too hot keeps the body from entering deep sleep, causing all kinds of disruption. That’s why finding that ideal temperature for sleep is very important for your wellbeing.
The Best Temperature for Sleep
Although there are occasions you can’t control the temperature of your sleeping environment (say, your AC goes out), it’s healthy sleep hygiene to keep your bedroom cool at night. An internal temperature above 75 degrees or below 54 degrees is considered problematic.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting your thermostat somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15-19 degrees Celsius, for optimal sleeping. Babies and young children need it slightly higher temperature—about 65 to 70 degrees. Sleep experts recommend sleeping naked or with as little clothing as possible but wearing socks. Keeping extremities warm, meaning hands and feet, allows the body to preserve energy and better regulate overall body temperature. Sleeping with socks on or placing a hot water bottle at your feet can help.
Keeping the body cool at night also supports the production of brown fat cells which are key to a healthy metabolism. Brown fat cells, unlike white fat cells that store calories, actually burn fat and help you maintain your weight.
Related: Best cooling mattress
There are, of course, factors other than the thermostat setting, to consider when trying to create the perfect temperature. The type of mattress you sleep on, for example. Memory foam tends to trap heat and sleep hot. If your room temperature is optimal for sleep and you sleep with minimal clothing yet still find yourself waking up hot at night, your mattress might be to blame. If buying a new mattress is out of the option, you can purchase a cooling mattress topper or lightweight sheets, such as bamboo or linen, to help keep you cool.
Another cause of sleeping hot may be hormones. Women going through menopause often experience hot flashes and night sweats as a result of irregular hormone levels. If this is the case for you, consider using a fan, lowering the thermostat even further, or talking with a physician.
Room temperature affects quality of sleep. Research supports an ideal temperature as between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. This range supports a deeper sleep and lets the body do needed repairs. Get additional supports like a cooling mattress if needed and add “sleeping at my ideal temperature” to your list of good hygiene practices.
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