Are you somebody who can’t fall asleep if your bedroom is too hot? Science suggests that you’re not alone – in fact if this sounds like you, you’re likely sleeping the “right” way. So, what is the best temperature to help you fall asleep? Cooler is better, say the scientific studies. Read on to find out why.
What does temperature have to do with sleep?
First of all, your body naturally operates on a sleep-wake cycle called the circadian rhythm; this rhythm is responsible for making you alert during the day and sleepy at night. One function of the circadian rhythm is to tell your brain to produce melatonin – a hormone that makes you sleepy – when it gets dark outside, and to stop producing melatonin when the sun comes up.
Another function of this natural sleep-wake cycle is to regulate your body’s temperature throughout the day. Your circadian rhythm tells your body to heat up (by less than two degrees) during the day and cool down again a couple of hours before bedtime. This is why it’s best to go to sleep in a cool environment – because this will naturally signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
What is the best temperature for sleep?
According to sleep studies, the temperature which makes it easiest for our bodies to fall asleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18.3 degrees Celsius. However, setting your thermostat anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) will work just fine.
How does heat impact your ability to fall asleep?
First of all, when your room is too hot, your body may think that it’s still daytime. In this case, your brain may stop producing melatonin, and therefore, you won’t get sleepy. Besides, even if you fall asleep, you may wake up in the middle of the night.
Studies have shown that hot bedroom temperatures can affect different stages of sleep, as well. Your body goes through stages of light sleep, deep and heavy sleep, and REM sleep (which is where dreaming occurs). When your room is too hot, your deep/heavy sleep stages – which are the most restorative to your brain and body – won’t be as long or effective. In this case, you may wake up in the morning feeling drowsy.
Also, hot temperatures may lessen the time your body spends in REM sleep. This could also make you feel drowsy the next day. Furthermore, REM sleep helps aid in brain function and repair our immune systems; getting less REM sleep due to high temperatures could lower your immune systems or impact functions such as memory and learning.
How should you maintain an optimal sleeping temperature?
First, of course, set your thermostat somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit a few hours before you go to bed (to give your environment time to reach an optimal temperature by the time your head hits the pillow). Likewise, there are a few more important steps to take to maximize sleep quality.
- Save vigorous exercise for earlier in the day, not in the evening. When you perform vigorous cardio exercise, you increase your heart rate, which heightens body temperature. This, of course, signals your body to become more alert, which is the opposite of what you want right before bed. Light exercise such as walking is okay in the evening, but try not to raise your heart rate too much.
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed. This may sound counterintuitive; however, think about how the air feels after stepping out of a hot shower. It usually feels colder than it did before you got in, right? Enjoying hot baths or showers before bed can make your surroundings feel colder, helping you fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Use breathable cotton linens and sleepwear. Wearing and sleeping on cotton will allow airflow to ventilate more easily, meaning that your body won’t get overheated at night.
- If you live in a two-story home, sleep downstairs during the summer. Heat rises, which means that your upstairs bedroom may become unbearably hot when it’s sweltering during the day.
- Finally, keep the blinds closed in your bedroom all day. Letting sunlight in will heat your bedroom, which is the opposite of what you want – so keep it nice and dark in there if you are not around!
AC not keeping up with your ideal temperatures? Action Cooling and Heating of Central Florida can help get your unit running optimally through maintenance, replacement, or simply installing a better thermostat. Call today!