Best Temperature For Sleep, Effects of Temperature on Sleep

Tony Roy is among the 30% of American adults who suffer from insomnia. “I can fall asleep, but I wake up in three to four hours,” says Roy, a 51-year-old philosophy professor at California State University San Bernardino. When he sought help from the nearby Sleep Disorders Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center, he received advice that never crossed his mind: Watch your bedroom temperature closely.

For years, Roy followed his energetic wife’s advice to lower the thermostat temperature. “It was pretty cold in our house,” he says. “We used to sleep with the thermostat set to about 60. I used a lot of blankets.”

Not enough, it turned out. On the first night, Roy followed his doctor’s advice to raise his temperature to a more comfortable 68 degrees, and he slept much better at night. “I was able to fall asleep again when I woke up,” he says.

How air temperature affects your sleep

Experts agree that the temperature of your sleeping area and how comfortable you feel in it affects how well and how long you sleep. Why? “When you go to bed, your body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to reach — drops,” says H. Craig Heller, Ph.D., professor of biology at Stanford University, who wrote a chapter on temperature. and sleep behind a medical textbook. “Think of it as an internal thermostat.” If it is too cold, as in Roy’s case, or too hot, the body tries to reach that set point.

This slight drop in body temperature induces sleep. Typically, says Heller, “if you’re in a cooler [rather than too-warm] room, it’s easier to do.” But if the room gets too hot or cold, you’re more likely to wake up, says Ralph Downey III, Ph.D., head of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University and one of the specialists treating Roy.

He explains that the comfortable temperature level in your bedroom also specifically affects the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage at which you dream.

What is the best temperature for sleeping?

According to Downey and Heller, it’s difficult to recommend a specific range because what’s comfortable for one person isn’t suitable for another (explaining how Roy’s wife slept blissfully in a cool 60-degree room). While the typical recommendation is to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, Heller advises setting the temperature to a comfortable level, whatever that means to the sleeper.

Roy plans to keep a close eye on the thermostat, even if the heating bills are a little higher.

There are other strategies for creating ideal sleep conditions. Experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, for example, advise treating the bedroom as a cave: it should be cool, quiet, and dark. (Bats follow this logic and are champion sleepers, sleeping 16 hours a day.) Be wary of memory foam pillows, which are soft to the touch because they fit your body exactly but can make you feel too hot. . And put socks on your feet, as cold feet, in particular, can make it hard to sleep.

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