We all know the feeling – the temperature and humidity in our room are too high, we’re feeling the night sweats coming in, and the general discomfort we feel prevents us from falling asleep. The opposite also happens quite frequently – often, during the winter, we find ourselves unable to fall asleep because we’re too cold. That leaves us with the question – what temperature is just right for sleep?
Luckily, there is a general recommendation as to what temperature we should aim for in our bedrooms. In our article, we’ll delve into how temperature affects our sleep, discuss the optimal bedroom temperature for falling asleep, and give you some tips about how you can optimise your bedroom temperature.
Without further ado, let’s see exactly how the temperature in our bedroom impacts our quality of sleep.
Why Does The Room Temperature Matter When We Sleep?
It’s common for our body temperature to fluctuate throughout the day, especially when we’re doing certain activities like taking a shower or working out. Before we go to bed, our overall temperature decreases, signalling to our bodies that it’s time for sleep. During this stage when our body is preparing for sleep, we experience an increase of the hormone melatonin – the so-called sleep hormone that’s responsible for putting us in a state of sleepiness. The temperature continues to go down once we doze off. Only when we wake up does it slowly start getting back to its normal numbers. Another interesting phenomenon that occurs during this stage is that our body starts dispersing heat away from our core to our extremities, which explains why some people feel that their hands and legs are getting warmer before they go to bed.
If you’re familiar with sleep cycles, you’ll know that our optimal body temperature is the hardest to maintain during the REM phase of our sleep. Since REM sleep is so crucial for our overall sleep quality, it’s important to encourage a sleeping environment that will facilitate this phase of our sleep.
So, what does this fluctuation in temperature have to do with the temperature of the room we’re sleeping in? It turns out, the temperature in our room has a direct impact on our body’s ability to reach its optimal sleeping temperature. It’s important to have a steady room temperature that’s catered to be optimal for our internal thermoregulation so that our sleep remains undisturbed throughout the night.
If our bedroom temperature goes in either extreme – if it’s either too hot or too cold – we’ll be more prone to waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back asleep. The same applies if the humidity levels in our bedroom are higher than usual.
The way our bodies react to overly cold and overly hot sleeping environments differs; for instance, being exposed to cold tends to impact the later stages of REM that tend to last longer than the initial REM stages. In that way, cold exposure might be slightly more damaging for our sleep hygiene than sleeping in a room that’s too hot. As we mentioned earlier, the direct impact on REM sleep can seriously impact our sleep quality, so it’s crucial that we optimise our room temperature before going to bed.
Lastly, what does science have to say about room temperature and quality of sleep? According to this study, the thermal environment we sleep in is one of the most important factors that affect our sleep. The study also supports the claim that room temperature that hasn’t been optimised tends to lead to sleep disruptions such as waking up in the middle of the night.
Now that we saw exactly how the temperature in our room can impact our sleep quality, let’s find out what room temperature is recommended for our bedrooms.
What Is the Optimal Sleeping Temperature?
Setting a precise temperature number we should aim for isn’t an easy task. After all, we’re all different and have different sleeping preferences – some of us are hot sleepers, while others need a couple of blankets at night to feel warm. However, scientists have come to an agreement regarding what temperature we should aim for in our bedrooms – science says that the optimal temperature for sleeping is somewhere between 18 and 19 degrees Celsius. You might be wondering how scientists have come to that exact number. A couple of factors come into play when determining our optimal sleeping temperature, such as the way our temperature shifts from morning to night-time.
Having this number in mind, you should ideally set the temperature to what feels right and natural for your body. Like we said earlier, there are many different types of sleepers, so if this temperature number feels a little low or too high, then by all means go with what feels intuitive for you.
If, however, you’ve found yourself unable to fall asleep or you’ve been waking up at odd hours recently and you can’t pinpoint exactly why this happens, then you might want to look at the temperature in your room and see if it needs to be slightly shifted. Give the general recommendation of 18-19 degrees Celsius a go and see if you notice any improvement in your sleeping hygiene. If the answer is no, then you might want to look at other factors that play a role in how you’re sleeping and what kind of sleep quality you’re nurturing, such as the lightness in your room or your bedtime habits.
What About Babies?
We looked at the general recommendation for room temperature while sleeping, but what about babies? After all, babies require more sleep than adults and they need special environmental conditions for optimal growth.
In general, the recommendation for a baby’s sleeping environment doesn’t differ a lot from the one catered for adults. It’s recommended that you increase the room temperature for a couple of degrees – for instance, if you have your thermostat set at 18 degrees Celsius for your bedroom, set it to 20 or 21 degrees Celsius for your baby’s room. That should make them sufficiently comfortable without overheating during the night.
Overheating is a serious issue when it comes to infants, but there are several things you can do to prevent this from happening, such as investing in a breathable crib mattress, a breathable blanket, and light clothing made of comfortable materials like linen and cotton. Apart from the room temperature, you should also consider the light in your infant’s room – make sure that it’s dark so that your baby’s sleeping quality is optimal.
Tips for Keeping Your Sleeping Temperature Cool During the Summer
If you live in an area where you experience long, hot, and humid summers, then you might struggle with keeping your room temperature cool at night. Apart from increased temperature levels, you’re also experiencing the effects of high humidity which further hinders your ability to have quality sleep. In order to help you keep your sleeping temperature optimal in a hot climate, we have included some tips that will aid you in the summertime. These tips will also help immensely if you’re a hot sleeper who struggles to keep the heat at bay.
Invest in a Cooling Mattress
One of the easiest ways to help prevent overheating at night if you live in a hot area is to invest in a cooling mattress that will aid your overall breathability. Here are some of our top recommendations for a cooling mattress that will help you narrow down your search if you’re trying to find a new, breathable mattress.
The Silentnight Eco Comfort Breathe is one of the most renowned mattresses in terms of breathability. Made of eco comfort fibres, it will prevent those pesky night sweats. Additionally, it’s quite supportive since it helps with spinal alignment and it provides medium firmness that’s suitable for front and side sleepers.
The Jay-Be Comfort Mattress is another outstanding choice if you’re a hot sleeper. Not only will it provide amazing temperature regulation thanks to its breathable e-fibre layers, it also helps cradle your body and provide even weight distribution, resulting in outstanding comfort and support.
If you’re looking to invest in a breathable crib mattress, look no further than the Blue Mare Cot Mattress. Its breathability can be attributed to the breathable fabric that will help obtain an optimal temperature for your baby. In addition, it will provide sufficient support for your baby and aid in development. The mattress complies with every health and safety regulation and its foam is antimony-free.
This tip also applies to the type of clothing you’re wearing to bed, what kind of blankets and sheets you’re using, and what kind of pillow you’ve invested in. When shopping for bedding, always look for breathability and temperature regulation. In terms of clothing, wear light clothing to bed, preferably one made of soft and breathable materials.
Prepare Your Room for Sleeping
There are several steps you can take throughout the day that will help optimise your room temperature for when you’re finally ready to jump into bed. One of these steps is to close down all your blinds and curtains during the day to prevent heat from penetrating from outside. This applies especially to those who have south facing windows. By doing this a couple of hours before you go to bed, you’ll help lower the temperature of your room. If you don’t like sitting in the dark for too long, then you might want to close them only during specific parts of the day, when it’s warmest, for example from 2 to 5 pm.
Sleep at the Lower Levels of Your Home
While moving downstairs for the summer isn’t so practical, you always have the option of sleeping on the lower levels of your house, assuming you live in a two-story house. The lower levels are known for being naturally cooler, so you will be much more comfortable at night.
Use a Fan or Open a Window
If you notice that your room starts getting stuffy, try opening a window for some fresh air, or turning on the fan. If you find yourself awake in the middle of the night due to overheating, you can always keep the fan on during the night.
The general rule of thumb is – the lower your bed is to the ground, the cooler you’ll be at night. If you have the option to buy a new bed, or you’re looking for a new bed frame, invest in one that’s lower to the floor, like a futon bed.
What If My Room Is Too Cold?
You know how to handle increased room temperatures, but what happens if your room is too cold? Here are some tips that will help.
Keep a Hot Water Bottle Nearby
Hot water bottles are essential if you struggle to warm up at night. Try placing one near the feet, since they contain blood vessels that can help with temperature regulation.
Invest in a Heated Blanket
Another easy way to warm up at night is to invest in a heated blanket. Nowadays, heated blankets are extremely safe to use and quite affordable, and they provide sufficient warmth and comfort whenever it’s necessary.
Wear Thick Socks
Not all of us can sleep with our socks on, but wearing thick socks to bed will massively help increase blood circulation.
General Tips for Keeping Your Sleeping Temperature Optimal
Try to Follow a Consistent Sleeping Schedule
While following a consistent sleeping schedule might not be an intuitive solution for optimising your sleeping temperature, it will help stabilise your circadian rhythm (body clock) immensely, which, in turn, will help lower your body temperature when you need to start getting ready for bed.
Avoid Caffeine and Sugary Foods Before Bed
Consuming foods high in sugar, as well as drinking copious amounts of coffee prior to going to bed can significantly increase your body temperature and keep you up for longer than you had anticipated. In order to avoid this, try having your last cup of coffee or tea in the early afternoon, and, if you ever need a midnight snack, try to keep it low in sugar.
Take a Bath or a Shower
Lastly, we have some good news for those who prefer showering at night. Warm showers and baths have a cooling effect on our bodies that can help us fall asleep faster and improve our overall quality of sleep. So, next time you find yourself tossing and turning at night unable to fall asleep, have a quick shower or a relaxing bath.
Is Your Temperature Higher When You Wake Up?
Yes, our body temperature decreases throughout the night and slowly starts getting higher once we wake up.
What Is the Ideal Room Temperature for Sleeping?
The ideal room temperature for sleeping is estimated to be somewhere around 18 to 19 degrees Celsius.
Can You Get Sick from Sleeping in a Hot Room?
Sleeping in a hot room can indirectly cause us to get sick. Some of the side-effects that can occur if we sleep in an overly hot room is that our sleep is disrupted, and poor sleep quality has been associated with a low immune system.
The Bottom Line
We hope you found our article on what temperature is just right for sleep useful for improving your overall sleeping environment in your bedroom.
The scientific consensus is that the optimal sleeping temperature is from 18 to 19 degrees Celsius. For babies, the room should be slightly warmer, so aim at 20 or 21 degrees. There are several things you can do to increase the temperature regulation of your room and your body, such as taking warm showers or baths at night, avoiding food that’s rich in sugar and caffeine a few hours before going to bed, and trying to maintain a consistent sleeping schedule.
Okamoto-Mizuno K, Mizuno K. Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. J Physiol Anthropol. 2012;31(1):14. Published 2012 May 31. doi:10.1186/1880-6805-31-14