If you live with a partner, then you’ve argued over the bedroom temperature before. Some of us get colder easier than others, but is there a single best temperature for sleeping? Well, it turns out that there is. Not only is there a specific range which our body prefers, but it demands it to sleep.
Why Does The Temperature Matter?
According to research by experts, our body is reluctant to shut off until it reaches a specific temperature range. This research suggests that failing to achieve this range can make it take far longer to fall asleep and will prevent you from getting the deep REM sleep that you need in large enough quantities to feel refreshed the next morning.
When we get nearer to our bedtime, our bodies begin to cool down and the reduction in light stimulates our body to start the production of melatonin which makes us feel tired. In general, our bodies cool down by one to two degrees to get to sleep and therefore a cool environment can facilitate this to ensure we fall asleep quicker and sleep deeper.
What Is The Ideal Temperature For Sleeping?
Studies have shown that the best room temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees. This temperature allows our bodies to stay a little lower than 98.6 degrees, which gives us the optimal nights rest.
Our bodies are designed to sleep outdoors, often in caves or other protected areas, which is why we need to replicate this cave environment to sleep better by minimizing light, sound, and heat.
While there doesn’t appear to be a ‘worst’ temperature, anything outside of this range is going to increase the time that it takes for you to fall asleep and can prevent you from getting as much REM sleep. Of course, once the temperature becomes too high or too low, it can cause shaking or night sweats which can wake you up and prevent you from sleeping.
Getting A Better Night’s Sleep
Setting the thermostat to the right temperature is essential, but if you’re still struggling to sleep quickly and deeply, there are tactics which have been proven to work. Often it can take a few days to get accustomed to a new temperature, mainly if you were used to a very hot or cold temperature before.
Wear Socks To Bed
Wearing a pair of socks to go to sleep might seem odd, especially since many of us will need to decrease our temperature to meet the recommended 60 to 67 degrees which are the optimal temperature for sleep. However, research has shown that keeping our hands and feet warm at night can facilitate longer REM sleep and reduce the amount of time needed to fall to sleep.
Keeping your feet warm will dilate your blood vessels, allowing for higher blood flow and therefore quicker distribution of heat around the body. Presuming that you’re not actively heating one part of your body, it will enable you to reach equilibrium faster which makes it more likely that you’ll be within the recommended range across your body.
If you have no desire to wear socks to sleep, you can also use an extra blanket for your feet and lower legs, or a hot water bottle. Keeping your hands warm can also help, but most of us would be reluctant to the idea of wearing gloves to sleep!
Take a Hot Bath
It might seem counterintuitive to take a hot bath right before you sleep, mainly because the recommended room temperature is far below what many of us set our thermostats to. However, not only does a hot bath allow your muscle to relax and cause blood vessel dilation, but once you leave the tub there is a massive loss of heat throughout your body.
Overall, once you leave a hot bath, your body temperature will be lower than it was before you entered the bath. To emphasise this benefit, you can towel off quickly and then stay naked until right before you go to sleep.
What To Do If You Feel Hot At Night
For some of us, even 60 degrees can be sweltering, especially once you add in the warmth from your mattress, bedclothes and any sheets that you use. Overheating at night is particularly common for overweight people because of the extra fat acts as insulation.
Spread Your Limbs Out
The position that you sleep in can have a significant impact not only on your body but also your internal temperature. Keeping your limbs by your side or curling up in the fetal position will prevent air flow around your body and insulates more of that heat in between your limbs.
To reduce your body temperature and keep yourself cool at night you should spread out as much as possible, allowing greater air flow and reducing skin to skin contact. To achieve this, it’s wise to sleep flat on your back in the recommended position.
Choose The Right Mattress
The type of mattress that you use can have a severe effect on how warm you feel at night. Specific materials not only hold more heat than others, but the flexibility of the surface can sometimes promote heat gain.
For hot sleepers, foam mattresses are the worst, particularly memory foam which contours to your body and therefore maximises the amount of contact between your body and the surface. This contact allows for higher heat transfer and also prevents air from flowing around your body where it can draw heat away from you.
On the other hand, the best mattress materials for ‘hot sleepers’ are those with limited flexibility and low heat conductivity like spring or coil mattresses and latex. Latex conducts very little heat and because it is dotted with holes and allows for incredible air circulation which causes the mattress to breathe and never get hot.
Similarly, spring and coil mattresses are firm, and you can’t sink into them which prevents excess heat accumulation. They also have upper cotton layers rather than foam, and there is plenty of space between all of the coils for air to circulate, whereas foam mattresses are dense and thick, retaining the heat and causing you to feel hot.