What's the Best Temperature for Sleep?
Author: Jonathan Warren
We’ve all tossed and turned on a hot summer’s night and shivered on a cold winter’s evening. And so you don’t need us to tell you that temperature plays an enormous role in getting a good night’s sleep! A cool and consistent environment is key to maintaining excellent sleep quality throughout the seasons.
But what is the best temperature for sleep? And how do you achieve it? From optimal temperatures to bedding and seasonal adjustments, we’ve put together all you need to know about the relationship between sleep and temperature.
Science of Sleep Temperature
Our sleep cycle is controlled by something called the “circadian rhythm”: a 24-hour body clock that regulates when we feel awake or sleep by responding to light changes and other environmental factors. And you guessed it, one of those other factors is temperature!
Our core body temperature peaks during the daytime and starts to dip a few hours before we go to sleep, coinciding with the body’s release of the melatonin sleep hormone. As a result, it’s vital that we try to adjust the temperature in our bedroom to work alongside our circadian rhythm patterns for a restful and undisturbed sleep.
This is why it’s so difficult to fall asleep when we’re too hot or cold, and to stay asleep too! We’re particularly sensitive to temperature during the slow-wave and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stages of sleep and so when this is affected, our bodies struggle to regulate themselves and become uncomfortable and restless. So, if you’re wanting to improve your sleep quality, a great place to start is by maintaining the optimal cool sleep temperature in your bedroom.
Optimal Sleep Temperature
In order to best achieve a restorative night's sleep, the ideal room temperature should be between 16-18ºC (60-65ºF). Obviously this is a recommendation and individual sleepers may find they would prefer to set their thermostats to temperatures a little higher or lower than 16-18ºC depending on their personal needs and/or environments.
Typically, however, temperatures above 24ºC and below 12ºC tend to disturb REM sleep, leaving us feeling restless during the night, meaning we find it a lot harder to fall asleep and are more likely to wake up frequently throughout the night.
Bedding and Sleepwear
There’s no two ways about it, quality bedding is a must if you want to maintain an optimal body temperature while you sleep. Not only do they look fantastic, but top quality bedding such as pillows, duvets and sheets are engineered to keep you cool throughout the night. This is due to them being made with temperature regulating materials that help to reduce body heat and sweat wick, leaving you much more comfortable.
This definitely applies to your mattress too! Seeing as your whole body maintains contact with your mattress night after night for years on end, it’s vital you invest in a mattress with temperature regulating technology. Take our Sleep Sanctuary Elite Gel Memory Pocket 3000 mattress. This incredible memory foam mattress features the latest generation of temperature regulating cool gel to ensure you sleep right every night. Keeping you cool in summer and cosy in winter, this intelligently designed mattress adjusts with your body temperature using Gel Support Beads. This tech conducts heat away from your body when you’re too warm and helps you to absorb, store and release heat when you are too cold. Pretty dreamy, right?
When it comes to sleepwear, opt for breathable fabrics that will help you keep and maintain a cool body temperature while you sleep. Do away with polyester and instead look for pyjamas and sleepwear made from cotton, linen or even silk instead. Silk is an especially good choice as it works as a strong temperature regulator, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter!
In warmer weather, there are many steps you can take to make sure you achieve the perfect bedroom temperature for a good sleep. As well as using the temperature regulating bedding mentioned above, you can use a light tog duvet (4.5-7 togs should do the trick) or even just use a light, breathable flat cotton sheet on particularly balmy nights.
In the UK, air conditioning units are in short supply so if you’re not one of the lucky ones and don’t see the need to buy a free-standing unit for a short summer season, why not invest in a fan instead? Low-cost to purchase and run, a fan is a simple solution to circulate cool air on warmer evenings. And believe it or not, but drawing your curtains and closing any blackout blinds to block out the sun’s warmth during the day can keep your bedroom at a cooler temperature for when it’s time to sleep.
Light, breathable clothing in summer is a must and here, less is really more. Choose moisture-wicking materials and at the very least, substitute trousers and long sleeves for shorts and vests if you’re not keen on kipping in your birthday suit!
In the winter, you’ll want to go for a higher tog duvet to keep things cosy – we’d recommend going for a winter duvet tog rating between 10 and 13. You might even want to pop on a pair of socks and stock up on a few extra sheets, throws or comforters too if you get extra chilly come nighttime.
Using heating to get your room to between 16 and 18ºC is the easiest way to warm your room for great sleep. However, with energy bills being so expensive, this may well not be an option for everyone. Instead, save money and energy by closing doors to other less used rooms in the house to keep heat in, install draft excluders and even invest in cosy rugs on hard flooring to trap in warm air and stop it from escaping.
A hot water bottle, electric blanket or fan heater are also fantastic options to help you stay toasty – just make sure to use them in line with their safety instructions. Hot water bottles can be especially dangerous as there is a risk they could burst, so rather than sleeping with them, we would recommend placing them in your bed 10 to 15 minutes before you hunker down to preheat your sleeping spot!
Sleep Hygiene Tips
While maintaining the best temperature for sleep is super important, keeping up with a consistent bedtime routine is just as crucial. Here are our top sleep hygiene tips that’ll have you drifting off with ease night after night.
If you want your circadian rhythm to take care of you, you need to take care of it in return by maintaining a consistent wake and sleep time routine throughout the week. And yes, that means on the weekends too!
Bolster your bedtime routine by incorporating some self-care elements into your evenings. Whether that be meditation, skin care or reading, a calming activity is a wonderful way to wind down and reduce your stress levels before bed.
This isn’t breaking news by any stretch – blue light is the arch enemy of sleep. Implementing a strict tech ban before sleep is a great idea as phones, TVs and tablets are criminals when it comes to spiking brain activity and keeping you from drifting off. To reduce temptation, why not charge your phone away from your bed on the other side of the room?
While it may seem counterintuitive, working out is really conducive for a good and restful sleep. Daytime exercise will reduce stress and tire you out, meaning you’ll be ready to snooze when bedtime rolls around. Just make sure you don’t hit the gym too late, your body needs a good few hours to cool down and regulate your temperature before you sleep.
Searching for more ways to boost your sleep quality?
At Time4Sleep we are all about enhancing your sleep quality. From wondering whether to sleep with a pillow between your legs to understanding what you should drink before bed, our Time4Sleep blog has plenty of hints and tips on how you can get the most restorative sleep possible