How Temperature Affects Sleep

Posted by Mark Aramli on


You toss and turn. You kick the covers off and then scurry to pull them back up as your teeth begin to chatter. Only to do it again, and again, and again. We’ve all been there. Trying to sleep peacefully when you’re uncomfortable is a losing battle.

How temperature affects sleep

Restlessness and an endless night of tossing and turning is often a result of being too hot or too cold. This is because your body has to work harder to self-regulate when external temperatures aren’t optimal, and ‘working hard’ is diametrically opposed to ‘resting’.

When external temperatures aren’t ideal, your body will switch back and forth between sweating as a cooling mechanism, and shivering as a warming mechanism, except during REM sleep.

During the REM stage, your body’s sweating and shivering mechanisms are impaired, so your body is forced to adjust to whatever the ambient room temperature may be. However, when you come out of this stage, you may be too hot or too cold, depending on your bedroom environment.

It is at this time that you may start sweating or shivering, which can cause you to wake up, disturbing an otherwise healthy sleep cycle. A deficiency in REM sleep can contribute to poor health and weight gain, not to mention make you a groggy mess when you finally open your eyes in the morning. Furthermore, a REM sleep deficiency has also been linked to clumsiness or forgetfulness.

What is the Best Temperature to Sleep in?

Most sources cite the best sleeping temperature as somewhere between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your (or your partner’s) sleeping habits. If you tend to use more blankets or pillows when you sleep, set your thermostat for lower temperatures. If you prefer less blankets, opt for higher room temperatures.

When creating an optimal sleep environment, a good rule of thumb is to create an atmosphere that is cool, dark, and quiet. Your body naturally begins cooling itself when you are trying to fall asleep. Therefore, if you keep the temperature in your bedroom cooler rather than warmer, it will be much easier to get to sleep and avoid restlessness or insomnia.

Researchers recommend lowering your room temperature a mere 2-3 degrees in order to fall asleep more easily. Our body’s core temperature is thought to reach its lowest levels just before you wake up, in the wee morning hours, which is why setting your bedroom thermostat to adjust between nighttime and morning can help you sleep longer, and more deeply.

Tips to Keep Your Body at the Perfect Sleeping Temperature

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that temperature is a bigger player in the role of sleep regulation than first thought, so taking measures to create a comfortable sleeping temperature is important.

A bath right before bedtime could help you slip into sleep faster. When you get out of a hot bath, your body immediately starts working to cool itself down, which is what it wants to do anyway at bedtime. The bath merely helps speed up the process, and it may even help you sleep more soundly.

You can also put your AC on a timer to lower temperatures during the night, and raise it up in the morning to help maintain the perfect sleeping temperature for you.

Try layering your bedding and experimenting with what you wear to sleep. Breathable fabrics are best, while polyesters and synthetics should be avoided. Bamboo and wool fabrics are good for wicking away moisture and keeping temperatures regulated.

Investing in a mattress or bedding that offers heating and cooling components is also a great way to keep your body temperature happy, (despite your partner’s preferred sleeping temperature), and your sleep habits uninterrupted, simplifying your efforts to strike that ‘just right’ balance.

Learn about how BedJet uses circadian sleep rhythm technology to regulate core body temperature.