Sleep requires complete comfort. If you aren’t comfortable, you’re going to be tossing and turning all night. Think about how you feel trying to sleep as a passenger on a long road trip or on an overnight flight. You might doze off for an hour or two, but do you really feel rested when all is said and done?
Temperature is one of many important factors in crafting an ideal sleep environment. If your room is too hot or too cold, you can expect to have some trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
When you perfectly prepare your room and dial in the temperature just right, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get snoozing.
How Does Temperature Affect Sleep?
Your body has a natural clock, called its circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm tells your body what to do and when to do it. Sleep is the primary process tethered to the circadian rhythm. Your body uses light cues to determine how sleepy or how alert it should be at any given time.
During the day, your circadian rhythm encourages your body to stay awake. At night time, it promotes the release of a sleep hormone called melatonin that naturally induces a relaxed state.
The circadian rhythm also works with the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. As a part of slowing you down for the night, your body will naturally release a little bit of heat. Your body temperature is slightly lower at night than it is throughout the day.
When your circadian rhythm sends the message to your body, your blood vessels start to expand. The effect is more noticeable in your hands and your feet. You might notice that your fingers and toes feel a little bit warmer when you’re sleepy because a tiny amount of body heat is escaping.
When your body is done shedding that small amount of heat, it enters an ideal state for sleep. The temperature of your sleeping environment should complement your body’s efforts to keep itself at an ideal sleep temperature.
In layman’s terms, the inside of your body and the outside of your body need to reach functional harmony that creates a perfectly soothed zen state. When you reach that state, everything feels good and sleeping is easy.
Sleeping When You’re Too Hot
Think about trying to sleep in the summer. You might sweat and feel gross. You toss and turn, kicking off blankets and trying to strategically place fans in your room. You keep a glass of ice water on your nightstand. The first thing you want to do when you wake up in the morning is take a refreshing cold shower. You’re not alone.
A massive study found that the majority of people have trouble sleeping in the warmer months. Your body is undertaking additional effort to cool itself down. Being surrounded by a warmer temperature isn’t helping. A warm room directly works against what your body is trying to do.
As a direct result of a higher temperature, you’re more likely to feel restless. You may wake up intermittently and disrupt your sleep cycle, leading to a decrease of valuable REM sleep your body needs to fully recharge and restore.
Sleeping When You’re Too Cold
Cold temperatures indoors or not being protected from the elements can negatively impact your sleep. If you’re shivering, you’re going to find it difficult to relax. If you’re just a bit too cold for your liking, this could be enough to disrupt your sleep patterns.
Although we sleep better in cooler temperatures, if the temperature is a bit too cold, your body may believe it needs to work to warm up.
What Is the Perfect Temperature for Sleep?
The perfect temperature for sleep may vary from person to person. Sleep experts recommend temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re too cold at 60 degrees, increase the temperature until you find your perfect sweet spot.
If you’re using comfortable blankets and warm sleepwear that helps you retain your body temperature, a temperature on the lower end of the spectrum may be better than a temperature on the higher end of the spectrum.
Is Sleep Temperature Different for Babies?
Babies should generally sleep at temperatures closer to 67 degrees. When babies get too warm, the risk for SIDS increases. Since it isn’t safe to give babies blankets or padded bedding, they need a secure sleep sack or swaddle to keep them warm and help them retain their body temperature while they’re sleeping.
Your baby can wear sleep mittens to prevent them from scratching themselves in their sleep and to keep their hands warm, but your baby shouldn’t wear a hat to bed. The body sweats from the head to release excess heat, and if your baby is wearing a hat, the body can’t use it’s natural mechanisms to keep itself cool.
Throughout the night, periodically check your baby to make sure they aren’t too warm or too cold. The back of the neck and the belly are ideal spots for checking your baby’s temperature.
How To Prepare Your Room for Sleep
Temperature is an important factor in determining the quality of your sleep, but it’s certainly not the only factor. If the temperature is great but your bed is uncomfortable and your room is full of distractions, your sleep quality will suffer. Set the stage for perfect sleep every night.
Set Your Thermostat
At night, your thermostat or air conditioner should be set to your preferred temperature in the 60 to 67 degree range. If your air conditioner or thermostat has a timer, you can automate this setting. You can even set the temperature to something slightly warmer an hour before you intend to wake up. It’s a little easier to get out from under the covers when it’s less chilly.
Use a Fan (If Necessary)
Fans can help, but be mindful of how they actually work. Fans don’t actually reduce the temperature of a room. Instead, they force air to circulate around the room. This can make you feel cooler while eliminating the stuffy feeling that still air sometimes creates.
In addition to promoting air circulation, fans are a gentle source of white noise. If your house feels too quiet and it creeps you out a little bit, white noise can help to fill the room with a pleasant lull that won’t distract you.
Some people find that the white noise from fans can even help to counteract or prevent tinnitus (i.e. ear ringing) they sometimes experience when they lay down to sleep in a quiet environment.
Make Your Bed Comfortable
If you feel like your bed retains heat or makes you sweat at night, there are easy ways to counteract the problem. Lightweight cotton or linen bedding is breathable and soft. You’ll feel less stuffy under the covers if you choose something lighter.
Some mattress toppers are made of special foams or gels that make your bed more comfortable while helping to manage the temperature of your mattress. These toppers are made of materials that promote air circulation. The cold air of your room can flow through the topper, keeping the heat from building up.
You should also be using the right pillow for your sleeping position. While big, fluffy pillows are great for relaxation, most people find that they don’t provide adequate support at bedtime. Back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and side sleepers each have their necks and spines in different position. Choose a pillow appropriate for your sleep posture, or if necessary, work to change your sleep posture to a position that’s more suited to your long term comfort.
Phones, TVs, laptops, tablets, eReaders, and handheld gaming systems are often bed companions. People like to scroll or watch things before they go to bed.
There’s two major problems with this. The first is that these activities command your attention and stimulate your mind, which can cause you to reach a higher state of alertness when you should actually be winding down.
The second problem is blue light. Your body’s circadian rhythm can detect light levels and light exposure. Electronics emit blue light, which could disrupt the messaging of your circadian rhythm and prevent it from relaying important sleep messages to your body.
There are apps and settings on many devices that place an orange-tinted overlay over the device’s screen, ultimately reducing the amount of blue light that passes through. There are also glasses designed to help filter blue light from reaching your brain. These things may have some positive effects, but they’re not completely effective at eliminating the problem.
As such, it’s best to keep away from electronics an hour or so before bed. You can use blue light protection at night time to minimize your exposure, but the ideal solution would be keeping all electronics away from your sleep space.
Keeping Cool and Comfy in Bed With the Sleep Pod
The perfect bedtime garment should help you retain your body’s ideal temperature throughout the night. That’s what the Sleep Pod does.
The Sleep Pod is a lightweight, breathable, stretchy cocoon that you can crawl right into at bedtime. It provides gentle calming pressure that feels like a hug. The Sleep Pod keeps you snug inside while you sleep, and many people find that this sensation reduces feelings of restlessness, discomfort, or stress.
The Sleep Pod has a small opening at the bottom that you can use to pop one foot out. This can help with temperature regulation if you feel a little too warm within the pod.
If you want a little more foot freedom, the Sleep Pod Move allows you to slip both feet out. You can roll up the bottom and walk across the room to turn off your alarm or go to the bathroom. You’ll be comfortable, but mobile at a moment’s notice.
Best of all, you’ll stay cozy and cool all night long.