The Best Temperature for Sleep

Getting a good night's rest involves the best temperature for sleep

woman sleeping bundled under covers
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According to the National Sleep Foundation, a general range for the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees. But, the best temperature for sleep differs depending on age and other factors.

Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is a vital aspect of a person’s overall health and wellness. Sleep hygiene—habits that are favorable to sleeping well on a regular basis—is comprised of many different factors.

Some of these include going to sleep and getting up at the same time every night, sleeping on a comfortable mattress, choosing the best pillows and bedding, and creating the right sleep environment, including the best room temperature for sleep.

Why Is Sleep Important?

As stated, sleep is a very important aspect of human health and optimal functioning. But, according to a study published in Science Advances, nearly one-third of adults reported having sleep difficulties. This makes inadequate sleep a vital public health issue.

Too little sleep can result in:

  • development of chronic illnesses, such as obesity and heart disease.
  • a compromised immune system.
  •  disruption in normal cognitive functioning, such as memory and attention.
  •  increasing the risk of psychological issues, such as depression.

Why Is Room Temperature Important?

There are several factors at play when it comes to room temperature and adequate sleep. First off, the body naturally decreases its temperature in the initial sleep induction phase. Keeping the room between 60 to 67 degrees—for adults—can help facilitate this process. 

Taking a hot shower or bath before going to bed can promote the initial sleep phase because the body’s temperature begins to cool off after exposure to the higher bath or shower temperatures.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, thermostat settings far above or below the recommended 60 to 67 degrees may result in restlessness and affect the quality of REM sleep. REM sleep is a distinctive phase of sleep in humans (and other mammals) that is identified by random, rapid eye movements. During this deep sleep stage, a sleeper is difficult to wake. REM is thought to be the stage of sleep during which the brain stores new information into long-term memory, according to the American Psychological Association.

Circadian Rhythms and Body Temperature

Normal waking and sleeping cycles in humans are controlled by circadian rhythms. These are biological processes that tell the body when it’s time to get sleepy.

Circadian rhythms are commonly referred to as the body’s biological clock. Factors that influence the biological clock include hormones such as melatonin, the amount of daylight the eyes are exposed to, and core body temperature, to name a few. As the body begins to get ready for sleep, the blood vessels on the skin dilate, leading to heat loss and a decrease in core body temperature, which is a vital signal for the sleep cycle to start.

Once the core body temperature decreases, it remains low during sleep, then rises again in the morning upon awakening. Lab studies discovered that room temperatures can impact circadian temperature regulation by preventing adequate core body heat reduction. This is one reason poor sleep is associated with sleeping in room temperatures above 67 (for adults). 

Sleep Temperature for Men vs. Women

In general, men tend to maintain a steady body temperature, so keeping the thermostat at one setting usually works well for them. But a woman’s body temperature tends to fluctuate more, especially during pregnancy or menopause, so they may find it a bit more challenging to keep the room at an optimal temperature.

Menopause commonly causes hot flashes, which typically worsen during the sleep hours, causing a woman to feel too hot one minute, then too cold the next.

Sleep Temperature for Babies, Toddlers, and Children

For babies, toddlers, and small children, the National Sleep Foundation recommends a room temperature of between 65 and 70 degrees. To maintain a constant temperature in the child’s room, the crib or bed should be placed away from windows, and direct air from fans should be avoided.

Best Adult Room Temperature

  • 60-67 F

Best Child Room Temperature

  • 65-70 F

Maintaining Room Temperature

Here are some tips from the National Sleep Institute on maintaining the ambient temperature:

  • Avoid heat buildup in the home during the day by closing drapes and blinds to block out the heat from the sun.
  • Open the windows at night after the sun goes down and the outside temperature begins to drop.
  • Ensure a cross breeze by opening windows in adjacent rooms, so that the cool air flow is maximized.
  • Sleep in the lowest level of the house because heat rises.
  • Use fans to help keep air flowing. Place a fan in the window to blow cool air in from the outside.
  • Try using a fan to blow hot air (from inside the room) outside. To do this, close all the windows in the room, except the one with the fan directing the inside hotter air outdoors, and one window nearest the bed. Ensure that there are no gaps around the window. This will pull a stream of cool air in one window while warm air blows out the other one.
  • Wear light pajamas made of a type of breathable material. Some experts even recommend sleeping naked to optimize the body’s ability to lower its core temperature level.
  • Avoid using flannel bedding. select 100 percent cotton sheets for a cooler sleeping environment.
  • Keep a cold pack, a glass of ice water, and/or a spray bottle next to the bed for cooling off during the night.
  • Use layers of light bedding, instead of one heavy blanket or bedspread, to adjust the covers according to fluctuations in body temperature (particularly for women during menopause or pregnancy).
  • Consider using performance bedding that wicks away moisture or cool gel mats for optimal sleeping temperatures.
  • Lower the thermostat at night, keep a ceiling fan on to circulate the air (particularly with high ceilings) and keep the bedroom doors open to optimize a constant room temperature.

In addition to keeping the ambient room temperature within its recommended range settings, the National Sleep Foundation says to consider the bedroom as a cave; make it dark, quiet and cool. If sleep problems persist, an additional recommendation is to place a hot water bottle on the feet or wear socks to promote blood vessel dilatation. This helps the body quickly reach its ideal internal thermostat (core body) temperature.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to comfort, everyone is different, and each person has what they consider an optimal sleeping temperature. Keep in mind, however, that recent scientific research indicates that sleeping in a cool environment can make or break a person’s healthy sleep pattern.  

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