Have you ever tried falling asleep without a fan or air conditioning on a hot summer night? It can be challenging, and if you succeed, you might wake up multiple times throughout the night. Not surprisingly then, most people name cold room temperature one of the most important factors in getting a good night's sleep. Read ahead to learn about temperature and its influence on sleep. We will also discuss tips and tricks to make your room as comfortable as possible to help you drift off, even during hot summer nights!
How Does Body Temperature Change During Sleep?
Your body undergoes many changes as it gets ready for sleep. Your heart rate and your breathing slow down, and your muscles relax. Your core temperature also lowers, and you react differently to environmental changes, like increases or drops in temperature.
Core body temperature changes throughout a 24-hour cycle. As the body gets ready for sleep, it drops its core temperature by about one to two degrees. Your body temperature stays low all night and hits its lowest in the early morning.
Inversely, about two hours before you wake up, the body increases its core temperature again to get ready for the morning. In other words, cold temperature signals it is time for sleep while warm temperature says it is time to wake up. This might explain why you struggle to fall asleep on hot summer nights.
Did you know that your body temperature affects your sleep? 🤔🌡️— DSruptive (@DsruptiveSweden) January 19, 2022
Our body temperature starts to drop about two hours before we go to sleep😴, with the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. The best way to find your best bedtime is to collect the data. 📈📲 pic.twitter.com/oW1bIPH45z
How Temperature Affects Sleep
The first reason warm temperatures make it hard to sleep is restlessness. A hot room is uncomfortable, and you are more likely to toss and turn. You can also sweat a lot, which makes you dehydrated. In turn, dehydration makes it hard to regulate internal temperature, and your body struggles to cool down.
Second, as mentioned above, your internal temperature will drop a few degrees when it is time to go to sleep. At the same time, your body releases melatonin, a hormone that causes sleepiness. If your body struggles to cool down, it could interfere with melatonin production, giving you trouble falling asleep.
Third, sleeping in a warm room decreases your sleep efficiency, a measure of sleep quality. It compares the amount of time you spend in bed to the amount of time you sleep. If your room temperature is high, your sleep efficiency is more likely to decrease, and you will spend a lot more time awake.
Finally, room temperature has an impact on sleep stages. For your sleep to be restorative, you must spend a certain amount of time in slow-wave and REM sleep. When you are too hot, your sleep pattern changes, and the time spent in slow-wave and REM sleep decreases. When this happens, you wake up tired and with the feeling of having had very little sleep.
Multiple studies have now confirmed the relationship between sleep and temperature. For example, a review of 750,000 sleep surveys found a strong association between high nighttime temperatures and lack of sleep. They also observed that participants experienced the most severe sleep disruptions during summertime when temperatures were at the highest. Finally, they found that individuals with lower incomes were the most likely to suffer from sleep disturbances. They explained this by saying that lower-income individuals often cannot afford air conditioning or other means to cool down their bedroom.
What Is the Best Temperature for Sleep?
Before diving into this subject, you need to know that ideal sleeping temperature can change throughout life. Factors like age and weight can influence the way you react to room temperatures. For example, menopausal women often suffer from hot flashes, which can be very intense and uncomfortable. As a result, they might prefer sleeping in a room that could be considered too cold by many of us.
Age can also influence your ability to regulate your internal temperature. Studies show that elderly people are more prone to suffering from hot weather because their body does not respond efficiently to changes in temperature.
That being said, most people have their best sleep when the room temperature is anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
What About Babies?
Babies have a harder time regulating their internal temperature. This means that they struggle to stay warm when the room is cold. Since you are not supposed to give your infant any blankets due to the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), they might benefit from a warmer room. Experts agree that the ideal temperature for a baby's room is 69 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although a warmer room is generally better for your baby, you also have to avoid overly hot temperatures because they are another risk factor for SIDS. If you fear your baby will get cold, you can use a sleeping sack. Unlike blankets, they are safe for infant use.
The best way to check your baby's temperature is to touch their neck or stomach. If they feel cold, you might want to use a warmer sleeping sack or pajama. If they feel sweaty and hot, you can remove some layers.
Tips To Sleep Comfortably in Your Bedroom
The first thing you want to do is keep your bedroom temperature stable and cold at night. The easiest way to do this is by using air conditioning, but not everyone has access to this option.
Luckily, there are things you can do to keep your bedroom cool. If you know it is going to be a warm day, keep your bedroom blinds closed. It will prevent the sun from shining into your bedroom and will keep the heat out. You can also open your windows at night when the air is usually colder. If you live in a two-story home, it can be a good idea to move your sleeping space to the first floor. Bedrooms on the second floor are usually warmer because the heat goes up.
Hot temperatures are one thing, but humidity can really make it worse. If you wish, you can invest in a good dehumidifier to make your room more comfortable at night. This option is often cheaper than purchasing an air conditioner and is worth considering.
Hot weather is usually not a problem during winter, but you should turn down the thermostat a few degrees at night. It will keep your room cool, and it will save you some utility money!
Bedding is another thing that can make all the difference in being comfortable at night. If you tend to get chilly, you can purchase a weighted blanket to prevent you from tossing and turning. Weighted blankets are best for cold winter nights, but they can also be used in the summer if you have air conditioning.
You should also avoid sleeping in synthetic fabrics in the summer because they tend to trap heat and moisture. On warm nights, you want to avoid using a lot of blankets. A light sheet should be enough.
Finally, some mattresses are made especially for hot weather, and they can help you be more comfortable in the summer. For example, some are made with cooling gel memory foam. It absorbs and then releases the heat coming off your body and prevents you from overheating. Latex mattresses are also very breathable and prevent you from being a sweaty mess, even during hot summer nights!
Other Sleeping Tips
In addition to creating a good bedroom environment, there are other things you can do to ensure good sleep. Although it might seem counterintuitive, you should try taking a warm bath or shower a few hours before going to sleep. It will trigger a cool-down mechanism and help you fall asleep faster. Another way to induce this natural cool-down effect is to exercise a few hours before bed.
You also want to stay away from caffeine in the late afternoon and the evening. Caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep, so it is best to stick with decaffeinated coffee if you must drink one later in the day.
Consider using a white noise machine to block out all disturbing noises. It can be helpful to prevent you from waking up when others around you are loud. Finally, keep your room as dark as possible as light can disrupt the quantity and the quality of sleep you get. It can be helpful to get a good blackout roller shade, like the Kyle and Bryce Blackout Roller Shades. They are made from the best material to help you achieve a full blackening effect in your room.
A few hours before going to bed, your body cools down and produces melatonin to help you fall asleep. Several things can disturb this mechanism, like warm room temperatures. Therefore, it is best to keep your room between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure you can sleep soundly. To keep your room comfortable, you can also close your curtains during hot summer days, install a dehumidifier in your room, and take a hot shower one or two hours before bed.