The Effect of Temperature on Sleep

Jun 08, 2016
Tagged with: The Effect of Temperature on Sleep

I’m going to point out the obvious. The temperature you sleep in has an effect on the quality of your sleep. Trying to sleep when it is overly hot is not easy. First, you start with your feet out from under the sheets. You start to toss and turn. Eventually, much to your growing frustration, you throw the sheets off altogether. Conversely, trying to sleep in really cold temperature is arguably worse. No one enjoys the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night shivering from the cold.

The question is, what is the perfect sleeping temperature? And further, what are the health implications of going to sleep in different temperatures?

These questions have been the subject of recent studies, the results of which can help us find a better quality of sleep.

In general, science indicates that we benefit from cooler temperatures. In fact falling asleep requires that our body temperature drops. One study in Australia found that people suffering from sleep onset insomnia had a consistently warmer core body temperature before sleeping.

In a Dutch study, participants were given special thermosuits to sleep in which lowered their skin temperature by one degree Celcius. The result was that they were much more likely to sleep through the night with the suit on than without it.

One of the hormones which help to regulate our body clock and induce sleep is melatonin. Our body relies on its release to know when to sleep. Sleeping in temperatures above 70 degrees hinders this release from occurring.

To summarize these studies, our body requires a cooler temperature to not only fall asleep but to stay asleep. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should sleep in extremely cold conditions. Setting the thermostat too cold would result in us waking up shivering. So the key is to make your bedroom cool enough to induce sleep but not so cold that you shiver. A good rule of thumb is 65 degrees.

By doing so you are more likely to fall asleep and to stay asleep through the night. At a time when sleep deprivation is a national epidemic, this is more important than ever.

Author: Nick Hasche