I’m hot but she’s not – and neither of us can sleep!
What keeps you up at night? Stress? Lumpy mattress? Sick child? You might be surprised to learn that temperature is often the single biggest defining factor between a good night’s sleep and one that leaves you grumpy and tired the next day. Every night across this great nation, the “I’m hot, she’s not” syndrome is robbing Americans of sleep.
Sleeping too hot leads to sweaty sheets. Sleeping too cold leaves you shivering. Neither is a pretty – or comfortable – way to spend the night.
Experts agree the temperature of your sleeping area (micro-climate) and how comfortable you feel in it affect both the quality and the quantity of your sleep. Why? “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down,” says H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, quoted in WebMD. “Think of it as your internal thermostat. If it’s too cold or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point.”
We believe that sleep is a right, not a privilege. What’s more, we also believe that all this struggling over temperature throughout the night is a needless waste of time – sleep is too important to play games. If you’re playing hide and seek with sleep it’s time to get serious about your sleep health.
Is sleeping in a cold bedroom better for you?
When your body overheats or is chilled, it works hard to regulate the temperature to ensure your organs continue working and you stay alive (in extreme circumstances). But if it can’t control your temperature internally, it moves to more aggressive tactics, like making you sweat or shiver or increasing (or decreasing) your heart rate. If you’re asleep when your thermostat soars, you’re in for a restless night and a not so great morning as you toss and turn to cool down. If your thermostat dips low, your sleep will be fine – as long as you have enough blankets to keep your micro-climate neutral. Trouble is, our perception of temperature is as unique as our fingerprints – two people in the same bed can feel very different about the micro-climate.
But does heat really affect sleep that much? Ask any insomniac if they prefer a cool or hot pillow. Research shows that when we’re asleep, our brain craves the cold. A study from the University of Pittsburg found that a cooling cap can help people with sleep problems sleep better.
During the course of a normal day, your body temperature rises and falls slightly. This pattern is tied to your sleep cycle. As you become drowsy, your temperature goes down, reaching its lowest level around 5:00 am. As your body prepares for you to wake up, it begins to climb again. If your bedroom is too warm, your body will struggle to maintain those natural temperature variances. In fact, studies indicate that some forms of insomnia are associated with an improper regulation in body temperature. Of course each of us has a slightly different optimal temperature for sleep, so experiment with keeping your room cool and find what makes you most comfortable.
Achieving temperature neutrality during sleep
If the temperature in your bedroom is keeping you awake at night, try these tips to reclaim your right to a healthy night’s sleep.
- Investigate your mattress. Just like your running shoes are performance gear for working out, your mattressis performance gear for sleep. If you’re sleeping on an older mattress, you might be missing out on newly developed cooling mattress technologies.
- Look closely at your sheets, pillows and blankets. Breathable, soft bedding will make your great mattress even better. Learn how to find the best sheets for your bed.
- Rethink your sleepwear. Thick, fleece pajamas may be cozy while watching Netflix but they’ll cause overheating throughout the night. Breathable is important here too – or just go naked. There’s solid science behind sleeping in the buff.
- Cool down before bedtime. Exercise can help you sleep better, but a strenuous workout right before bed raises your core body temperature. Solve the problem by working out in the morning or afternoon. If you enjoy a hot bath, shower or sauna before, ensure your body has time to self-regulate temperature before bedtime.
- Turn the thermostat down. But not too far. The ideal bedroom temperature varies from person to person, but sleep researchers agree that temperatures outside of 54-75F (12-23C) negatively impact your sleep.
A too-warm or too-chilly room means you’re more likely wake up throughout the night as your body struggles to maintain temperature neutrality. A supportive mattress that’s designed to regulate temperature, as well as the right sheets, pillows and blankets for your bed can all help improve your chances of healthy, temperature-regulated sleep.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- What’s the best lighting for your bedroom?
- Clutter and sleep make terrible bed partners
- Where to put your bed for the best night’s sleep