Sleep Sound: Thermoregulation’s Role in Sleep

Sleep is critical to how your body performs. Being tired can affect cognitive ability, energy, and even your mood. However, the type of sleep you get is as important as how much you get. Research suggests that the setting of your thermostat can play a huge role in the quality and type of sleep you’re getting. In general, bedroom temperatures should remain between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for the best sleep. When the temperature creeps out of those ranges, it can reduce the amount of time your body spends in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, getting quality sleep every night has dramatic effects on your overall health. Getting the right kind of sleep can help you get sick less often, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and think more clearly. “Sleep is important as a major component of good health. A lack of sleep, or a poor quality of sleep, can sabotage a person’s health goals and impair their safety. We tend to treat sleep as a health non-entity instead of a vital component to a healthy lifestyle,” says Brendan Duffy, RPSGT of the St. Charles Sleep Disorders Center.

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Internal Thermostat

When you go to sleep, your body sets itself to a specific temperature, lower than where it’s set when you’re awake. If your bedroom is too hot or too cold, your body struggles to reach its ideal sleeping temperature. This mild drop in body temperature is part of what induces sleep. If the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up, according to Ralph Downey III, Ph.D., chief of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University.

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Regulate Your Temperature

There are several ways to help regulate your sleeping temperature when going to bed. The most obvious is to adjust your household climate control to between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. If you have trouble sleeping, you can also try placing a hot water bottle at your feet and wearing socks. This will help dilate your blood vessels, encouraging your internal thermostat to reach a better setting more quickly. In addition to temperature, make sure that your bedroom is dark and quiet and limit the use of digital devices in the bedroom.

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Sleep Varies by Age

How much sleep we need depends on our age. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, school-age children require 9 to 12 hours of sleep, teens need 8 to 10, and most adults need 7 to 8 hours. It’s important to remember that the number of hours of sleep isn’t as important as the quality of sleep. Interestingly, babies and toddlers require a slightly warmer sleep environment—it’s recommended to keep the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees in their rooms.

Sleep Location

How, where, and when you sleep all play crucial roles in the quality of your sleep. For example, recent studies suggest that screen time before bed and the use of screens in bed have a drastic effect on the quality of sleep. Breaking your Instagram habit may be harder than setting your thermostat differently, however. One of the best ways to ensure quality sleep is to help your internal thermostat go into ‘sleep mode’ as quickly as possible. If you feel like you’re still having difficulty sleeping or aren’t getting quality sleep, it may be time to consult your health care provider. 

 

Works Cited

Doheny, Kathleen. “Can’t Sleep? Adjust the Temperature.” WebMD, www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/cant-sleep-adjust-the-temperature#2

“Get Enough Sleep.” Healthfinder.gov, healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationship/get-enough-sleep

“Quotes on the 2009 Sleep in America Poll™.” National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/quotes-the-2009-sleep-america-poll™

Ware, Arista. “Best Temperature for Sleep.” Sleep.Org, 10 Nov. 2014, www.sleep.org/articles/temperature-for-sleep/