The right room temperature is one of the most important factors for getting a good night’s sleep. There are few things more uncomfortable and frustrating than fighting to stay asleep during the hot summer nights and waking up in a sweaty, tangled mess of sheets … except for maybe tossing and turning and shivering, fighting to stay warm during the dead of winter.
There’s also your own personal body temperature to consider: some people run really hot at night while others just can’t seem to get warm enough, which can make falling asleep difficult no matter what the temperature is outside.
Read on to learn more about the best temperature for a good night’s sleep, and how you can optimize your bedroom accordingly.
When it comes to sleep, it’s usually best to keep your room on the cooler side. So for most people, the best temperature for sleeping will fall somewhere between 65 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18 - 21 degrees Celsius). This temperature range is more than just comfortable - as it turns out, your body is scientifically inclined to sleep better here!
Here’s why? Your sleep cycle is determined by your circadian rhythms, which you can think of as your body’s internal “clock.” Over a twenty-four-hour period, your body responds to the light (or lack thereof) to determine the time of the day and signal when it’s time to wake and time to sleep. In response, your body starts making some changes a couple of hours before bedtime to ready yourself for sleep, including lowering your core body temperature.
As night falls and we approach bedtime, our body responds by releasing certain hormones that make us relaxed and sleepy. At the same time, our core body temperature also decreases slightly, and both signal that it’s time for bed.
If something interferes with that natural temperature decrease - like, say, a stuffy, hot room - it can make it harder to fall asleep. Even more, a room that is too hot or too cold can also disrupt our natural sleep cycles and lead to lower quality sleep. In other words, even if you get all the hours of sleep you need, you could still wake up feeling tired.
So for the best night’s sleep, you want your room temperature to also tend towards the cooler side!
To minimize discomfort and improve your sleep quality, optimizing your bedroom temperature is the first step. Here’s how.
These are going to be some of the best tools you have for efficiently lowering your bedroom’s temperature to make it optimal for sleep. Setting your air conditioner to around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take a few degrees depending on your comfort level), can keep your room nice and cool even during the hotter summer nights.
A fan is also a nice tool to have since it can move air around and improve air circulation, keeping your room cool and at an optimum comfort level.
On the flip side, you might have to keep a thermostat going during the winter months or if you’re living in a colder climate in order to stay comfortable throughout the night. Remember, you don’t want it to get too hot at night, since that can also lead to a night of tossing and turning. For the best results, turn down your heater a couple of hours before going to bed so that it’s warm but not too stuffy.
During the daytime, you should keep your windows closed and blinds drawn to minimize sun exposure that could raise the temperature. But once nighttime falls, you might benefit from letting in that cool breeze to keep the room cooler. If it’s safe to do, let in some of that fresh cool air at night to minimize stuffiness and lower the temperature.
If you’re tired of kicking off your sheets and flipping your pillow over to the cool side again and again, your bedding itself might be the problem. Take a look at your bed sheets, blankets, and pillowcases: certain fabrics like jersey and silk can quickly trap heat in your bed, leading to hot, sweaty, uncomfortable nights. On the other hand, sleeping well in colder climates may require a warmer fabric.
The right bedding for you will depend on your own personal comfort levels, and you may need to change them depending on the seasons. For hot sleepers, choose a more breathable natural fabric like a crisp Percale Cotton bed set. For staying comfy during the cold winter months, consider a warmer fabric like Cotton Flannel. You might also consider using temperature-regulating bedding like comforters, throw blankets, and pillowsthat are made with specialized fabrics and fiberfill that regulate both heat and moisture throughout the night.
Like your sheets, pillowcases, and comforters, your sleepwear can also help you regulate your body temperature. Experiment with your bedclothes to see what works best for you - some people find themselves more comfortable with less clothing, while others prefer to be wearing a full PJ set to help keep them comfortable. Stick with natural fibers here as well to remain cool throughout the night.
If you’ve done everything else and still are having a hard time reaching that optimal sleeping temperature, it might be worth taking a look at your mattress itself. Some common mattress materials like memory foam can trap the heat in your bed, making you run uncomfortably hot while you’re trying to get your quality sleep hours in.
Consider buying a cooling mattress instead. These mattresses are constructed with specialized cooling materials like gels and fabric to keep your temperature down.
While it may sound counterintuitive, a warm bath is a great way to naturally lower your body temperature right before it’s time to go to sleep. Studieshave shown that a nice warm bath can improve your sleep quality and help you get to sleep faster! This is likely because the increase in temperature encourages your body to release heat through your hands and feet, which can then cause your core temperature to cool down and get your body prepared for a good night’s sleep.
If you work out later in the day and tend towards sleeping hot, you would probably benefit from rescheduling your gym sesh. Vigorous exercises like cardio, weightlifting, and high-intensity workouts can all raise your body temperature, making it harder to cool down in time for bed. If you do want to work out at night, you can opt for more low-intensity workouts like yoga. Be sure to give yourself at least an hour between your exercise and bedtime to allow yourself to cool down properly.
It might be tempting to reach for a nightcap before you hit the hay, but it might not be the best idea when you’re trying to optimize your body temperature for sleeping. Alcohol can temporarily cause your skin to flush and make you feel hot, which isn’t conducive to a good night’s rest.
There’s a good reason that your mom used to give you a glass of warm milk before bedtime! According to The Sleep Foundation, warm milk has tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages the release of some of your “sleep hormones” like melatonin.
Some teas, like chamomile and lavender, can also promote relaxation and help you fall asleep quicker.
An ice-cold glass of water is a surefire way to quickly cool you down, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night feeling overheated. For the best results, put your cold water in an insulated container so that it can stay nice and cool throughout the night.
Changing your sleep environment is one of the first things you should do when you find that you have a hard time falling and staying asleep. Adjust that thermostat, crack a window, and enjoy the benefits of a cooler night’s sleep.