Research

Cold or Warm: What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep?

Written by Asia Mayfield

A cold winter night, a warm bed piled high with blankets. These are the images that often come up when people talk about a good night’s sleep.

But what role does temperature have in the quality of our sleep? Does it matter if you’re hot or cold? According to research, the answer is clear- yes. The temperature of your environment affects the quality of your sleep.

 

How it works

When you go to sleep, your body loses heat, and your core temperature drops. This cool-down process continues throughout the night. It’s the subtle drop in body temperature that helps induce sleep.

“As we sleep, our body acclimates to the room temperature,” Michael Decker, Ph.D., spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told the Huffington Post.

“If we lower our body temperature a little bit in a cooler room, we tend to sleep better.”

Studies show that the ideal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Rooms that are too cold or too hot are more challenging to achieve quality rest. For instance, a 2017 study found that people are more likely to experience sleep disturbance during warmer months.

“Our analysis of historical data demonstrates a robust link between atypical nightly temperatures and insufficient sleep that is largest during the summer,” the researchers wrote.

“These findings correspond to a growing literature on the close ties between temperature, climate, and human health and well-being. (1)”

 

Too Hot

If you’re too hot, you may have trouble staying asleep. Participants in the 2017 study reported restlessness and interrupted sleep when they were overly warm.

 

Here are a few ways you can keep your room cool:

  • Run the air conditioner
  • Use a bedroom fan
  • Sleep naked or in light clothing
  • Use a thin sheet for a blanket
  • Open a window

 

Too Cold

If you’re too cold, you may be able to stay asleep, but you could face other health problems. A 2012 study examining subjects who slept partially nude with no bedding found that “cold exposure affects cardiac autonomic response during sleep without affecting sleep stages and subjective sensations. (2)”

 

Image source: Pixabay

References:

  1. Obradovich, Nick et al. “Nighttime temperature and human sleep loss in a changing climate.” Science advances vol. 3,5 e1601555. 26 May. 2017
  2. Okamoto-Mizuno, Kazue, and Koh Mizuno. “Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm.” Journal of physiological anthropology vol. 31,1 14. 31 May. 2012

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Asia Mayfield

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