Being in a comfortable environment is vital for healthy sleep. Have you ever had one of those nights when you just can’t fall asleep no matter how much you toss and turn in bed? This struggle often comes as a result of the temperature being too hot or too cold. You may not realize it but the ambient temperature in your bedroom can significantly impact the quality of your sleep.
How Does Temperature Affect Sleep?
The human body relies on circadian rhythms that facilitate the internal biological processes. These processes take place non-stop over a 24-hour period. When your body is getting ready for sleep, its temperature naturally decreases in order to prepare for sleep.
The circadian rhythm that dictates the human sleeping pattern is based on a light-and-dark cycle from the sun. This function is controlled by a part of the hypothalamus region known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. It serves as your ‘body clock’ that takes cues from the immediate environment, as well as personal factors. One of the most common environmental cues is the daylight. As soon as the sun is out, the human body gradually prepares itself for sleep.
The core temperature of the human body is at an average of 37 degrees Celsius. This range can fluctuate within a 2-degree range (up or down). About two hours before bedtime, your body’s core temperature will drop and that coincides with the release of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. As you sleep, your body temperature will continue to drop until it warms up again by the morning.
The human body is designed to regulate its own temperature. By cooling down, it signals your body that it is ready to go to sleep. This also explains why you might experience warm hands and feet at night. This is a result of increased blood flow to the lower extremities in response to the circadian rhythm. However, the increased temperature is not the same for the rest of the body.
Ideal Temperature for Sleep
There are a lot of debates on the ideal temperature for sleep. However, scientific studies show that 18.3 degrees Celsius (give or take a few degrees) is the best temperature to facilitate sleep. Simply put, the ideal temperature for sleep is anything that ranges from 18 to 21 degrees Celsius.
This is the right temperature that is cool but not too cold for your body to go to sleep soundly. This ideal temperature is recommended for adults, though. The best sleep temperature for infants is two degrees warmer. Since infants have smaller bodies (compared to adults), they are more sensitive to the ambient temperature. However, you must refrain from keeping the temperature too high as it can cause their little bodies to overheat. According to experts, infants achieve temperature maturation by 11 weeks. At this point, they are able to maintain a core body temperature.
Although experts have suggested the optimal room temperature for sleeping, it could still vary from one person to another. Every individual has a different tolerance level when it comes to cold and hot temperature.
What Happens if the Temperature is Too High or Too Low?
Why do you have to go to great lengths to ensure that you maintain the ideal temperature in your room during sleep? That’s because temperature that is too high or too low can affect your sleep quality.
If the room is too hot, you become restless. You won’t be able to sleep soundly or your sleep will likely be disrupted in the middle of the night. This feeling of restlessness is a result in drop in slow wave sleep (also known as the REM stage). But it’s not just the heat but also the humidity that can make it difficult to stay comfortable enough to sleep.
On the flip side, keeping your room temperature too low isn’t recommended either. It will cause you to shiver a lot. However, there are studies that show the cold temperature does not affect your sleep cycle as much as heat does. Your body could also alter its cardiac autonomic response when it is too cold.
How to Regulate Temperature
Keeping your room cool at night as you go to sleep is essential so you can doze off much quicker. You can maintain a comfortable sleep environment and within your ideal temperature range when you follow these tips:
- Set your thermostat at home within close range to your ideal sleep temperature. This will help your body to cool down faster so you can fall asleep faster at night.
- Turn on the air conditioner prior to going to bed. Don’t wait until you are already in bed to do this. Give the AC unit enough time to cool the room. That way, you have already achieved the optimal room temperature by the time you come in for sleep.
- Close the blinds and windows. This will help to maintain the temperature inside the room by preventing heat from coming into the room and so that the cool air can’t escape. This will also keep your room dark, which helps to make you fall asleep faster.
- Control the bedroom’s humidity level. Use a dehumidifier so that you can keep your bedroom cool and comfortable.
- Invest in a breathable mattress and bedding. Getting the right mattress and sleeping essentials can reduce sweating at night by facilitating air flow. Thus, you can stay cool and comfortable so your sleep won’t be disrupted.
In addition, you must also avoid caffeine or limit screen time before you go to sleep. Both of these factors can keep your brain stimulated and also disrupt the circadian rhythm of your body. Make sure that you limit the distractions to your body’s natural pattern so you can go to sleep faster.
Keeping your temperature cool before you go to sleep at night is an important step to get quality sleep. It is also important so you can get uninterrupted sleep as you are less likely to wake up in the middle of the night. Given the benefits of sleep quality to your overall health, it is something you need to take seriously (especially those struggling to get adequate hours of sleep at night).
Follow the tips and recommendations above to maintain a comfortable sleeping environment. This will help you get the quality sleep you deserve.