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Ideal Sleep Conditions

How to Sleep Better: Finding Your Ideal Sleeping Temperature

A sufficient amount of sleep is essential for a person’s health and wellbeing. The standard guideline is to aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, but the actual amount of sleep needed for each person can vary. Experiencing a chronic lack of sleep though can negatively impact learning, memory, metabolism, weight control, mood, cardiovascular health, the body’s immune system, and more. While there are many adjustments people can make to sleep better, from avoiding caffeine before bed to maintaining a regular sleep routine, one of the easiest ways to sleep better can be as simple as finding your ideal sleeping temperature.

Ideal Sleeping Temperature Varies with the Individual

In general, women tend to prefer warmer room temperatures than men -- both while active and while sleeping – due to differences in metabolism. If you’re living on your own, it can be quick and easy to find the best sleeping temperature for you, but it’s more difficult with multiple people in a household. Because the ideal sleeping temperature varies with the individual, there isn't one universal setting you can use to keep your room comfortable. You may need to try several different settings to find a temperature that works for everyone.

Body Temperature Changes while You Sleep

Have you ever gone to sleep entirely comfortable but woke up shivering? As you sleep, the temperature of your body actually lowers, especially during REM sleep. Your body temperature can drop around two degrees, depending on how deep you are sleeping. Because of this, a temperature that you fall asleep with can become uncomfortably cold throughout the night or once you wake up. Using layers of clothing and blankets can make it easier to adjust your temperature throughout the night if needed.

Better Managing Your Temperature for Sleeping

Here are some quick tips to help you find the best temperature for sleeping:

  • Adjust your room temperature. Pay close attention to the thermostat or place a temperature sensor in your bedroom -- your bedroom may be a little colder or warmer than the rest of the house. You can begin by setting your thermostat to between 60 to 67 degrees, depending on whether you generally like it warmer or hotter. These are considered to be the best sleeping temperatures for most people, though of course outliers also exist. If your room needs to be a different temperature than the rest of the home, you can consider using space heaters, turning on fans, or simply closing the air vents in your bedroom.
  • Get the right blankets. Different types of bed quilts or blankets have different insulating properties. Cotton blankets are excellent if you tend to get hot quickly, because they circulate air better and are generally lighter to help you stay cooler. Fleece, down, or wool blankets tend to be better for staying warm because the spaces in between the fibers trap warm air. Pay attention to how comfortable you feel in the mornings. If you're waking up hot and sweaty every night, you may want to switch to a lightweight cotton quilt or just use a bedsheet without additional blankets. If you're consistently waking up cold, you might benefit from a thicker, down-stuffed blanket. Blankets are especially useful for managing temperature because they can be set aside if you get too warm throughout the night as a quick way to adjust your body temperature.
  • Crack open a window. In the more temperate months -- when the temperatures outside are around 60 to 67 degrees -- you may actually want to turn off any heating or cooling and just open a window. Not only will this help regulate the temperature within your room, but it will also provide fresh air. If you are prone to allergies though, it may be best to keep the windows closed to avoid nasal congestion or eye irritation, which can also cause issues for sleeping.
  • Add some heat. In the colder months, there are a variety of ways to add heat that don't require you to turn up the furnace. Hot water bottles, space heaters, and heated blankets can keep you warm when you lay down in bed and then be either adjusted or removed throughout the night. Just don't fall asleep with anything on that actively uses electricity.
  • Wear the right sleeping clothes. Just as with blankets, the type of clothes you wear matters for sleeping -- and it's more about the material than it is about the build. Synthetic blends, wool, and flannel are all going to capture and retain heat more than cotton and other lightweight, natural materials, so you need to plan accordingly to stay warmer or cooler at night.
  • Invest in a quality mattress. Finally, one of the most universal sleeping tips is to get a new mattress. If you're tossing and turning from getting too warm or cold, a new mattress can help. Today there are many mattresses that can help regulate and stabilize sleeping temperatures, including memory foam mattresses and cooling gel mattresses.

Once you've found your perfect sleep temperature you'll be able to fall asleep faster as well as stay asleep better throughout the night. Just remember that the ideal sleeping temperature varies from person to person, so you’ll likely have to do some experimentation at first before you can find out what works best. And if you find that you still can't sleep well through the night, you may want to invest in a sleep study at your local clinic.

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