If you’re like most people, the temperature that you set in your room when you sleep is basically for your comfort. Keeping cool makes us feel better. If you were to look into the science of it, however, you would learn that setting the right ambient temperature in your room has much more important effects than just your comfort. Your health can be greatly impacted by how cool or warm your room is while you are sleeping.
The Science of Keeping Cool for Better Sleep
Our body temperature changes to the flow of our natural body rhythms. These rhythms are in turn linked with our sleep patterns. Our circadian rhythms, or sleep / wake cycle, are a 24-hour internal clock that marks physical, mental, and behavioral changes in a cyclical pattern. These rhythms run in the background of our brains and go from sleepiness to alertness and back again at regular intervals within that 24-hour period. They are signaled mainly by light and darkness in the environment.
Most people’s bodies will rise in temperature during the late afternoon and lower in temperature during the early morning, typically two hours before waking up. Between these two high and low temperature points, the body begins to lose heat faster and not produce as much heat as it does earlier in the day. This is the time when sleep usually begins.
Scientific research has been conducted on the relationship between temperature and quality sleep. It has revealed that keeping cool - maintaining a temperature between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius - is the absolute best for quality sleep. This temperature range is comfortable for daytime, but might seem too cold for some people. If the temperature in your room is around 24 degrees or higher, your sleep is likely being disrupted as a result. Likewise, sleeping in temperatures below 12 degrees can also disrupt sleep and cause related health problems.
Health Benefits of Keeping Cool During Sleep
Making the adjustment in room temperature and keeping cool during sleep has health benefits that make the effort worthwhile. Some people may not notice if they are sleeping poorly. We don’t usually focus on the factors in our daily routines or health that will tell us if we are not sleeping well. If you know that you are waking up feeling unrested, however, or you often feel drowsy too early in the day, then it’s quite obvious that you are not getting quality sleep.
First of all, keeping cool helps you sleep better, which in itself will already have a significant positive impact on your health. When you sleep well, you feel more energised and will naturally be more active during the day, even if you don’t sleep longer. Research studies have also shown that:
1. Keeping cool during sleep can lower the risk of developing metabolic diseases and other serious conditions such as diabetes.
2. When you make it a habit to sleep in a cooler room, your body is able to produce more of the good kind of fat while burning off higher numbers of calories during the day.
3. Melatonin, which is a hormone that is released in the body in response to darkness, is an anti-aging hormone. The primary function of melatonin is making you feel sleepy when it’s time to sleep so you can fall asleep naturally, but it also has this wonderful side effect.
4. When it is time for you to sleep - according to your circadian rhythm - your body temperature will begin to drop. As you fall asleep, your body temperature should drop further, which signals the release of growth hormones. If you are too hot, the signal is likely to be interrupted. Even if you are older and no longer growing, these growth hormones are also vital anti-aging hormones. They will not be produced at sufficient levels to keep your body young and strong if your body temperature is too high.
5. Cortisol is the hormone associated with stress and weight gain. When your body is at the ideal temperature for sleep, it produces less cortisol. Keeping cool is therefore directly related to your anxiety levels and natural appetite control.
Do You Have Trouble Sleeping?
As mentioned above, you body’s temperature is internally regulated to a certain degree. Ideally, your body reduces its temperature properly according to your natural rhythms and you get more deep sleep. This slow wave sleep is the best kind - it is responsible for ensuring that you wake up feeling refreshed and re-energised. If you are not keeping cool when you sleep, your body will be too hot and you will not reach this vital stage of deep sleep. You may even experience wakefulness due to being too hot or your room is too humid.
One major reason that causes many people to have trouble falling asleep at night is when the body retains heat. Some people have generally higher body temperatures than normal, and some may not be able to properly cool down as they transition from the wake cycle to the sleep cycle. This often means that they are unable to feel sleepy naturally and can’t get quality sleep.
How to Keep Cool for Better Sleep
Keeping cool to prepare for the best sleep requires some effort to make adjustments to your sleep space. One easy way is to regulate the ambient temperature in your bedroom. You may not want to run your heating and cooling system every day, however. Here are some other good methods for keeping cool at bedtime:
- Use clothing and bedding that have natural wicking and cooling properties to help regulate your core temperature.
- Make sure that your bedroom has proper ventilation so that fresh air can move freely through your room. Without proper ventilation, heat is more easily trapped inside the room, creating a hotspot.
- Invest in a quality cooling pillow or naturally insulating sleep pillow to help keep your head cool. The airflow features of these pillows will draw heat away from your head so that your body’s temperature can regulate more effectively. (There are also many other memory foam pillow benefits that you can explore.)
- Keep a more regular schedule throughout the day for all your general activities as well as your sleeping time. This helps your body to get into a comfortable circadian rhythm so that you can get down to the right temperature to feel sleepy at the right time. An erratic lifestyle with eating, exercising, working and sleeping happening at different times every day will confuse your natural cycles and prevent you from getting quality sleep.
- If you still can’t get your temperature down, try using a gel mat or a cooling mattress topper that you can place under your bed sheet for full-body cooling.