Getting a good night's rest is one of the most important things you can do for your body and overall health. Many people have difficulty sleeping—roughly 33% of adults don't get enough sleep.
If you aren't getting enough sleep, you can improve your sleep quality through several lifestyle changes—and the temperature of your bedroom is a good place to start.
Sleeping in a cooler environment can affect your sleep in different ways. Find out more about the benefits of sleep, why you should sleep in a cool environment, and how you can stay cool at night.
What Are the Benefits of Sleep?
There are several health benefits associated with sleeping well each night. For instance, sleep can:
- Lower your risk of health problems (like diabetes and heart disease)
- Reduce stress
- Improve your mood
- Allow you to think more clearly
- Allow you to perform better in school and at work
- Prevent you from getting sick
- Boost muscle mass and cell repair
The amount of sleep each person needs depends on different factors. But most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each day. Getting enough sleep is just as important as the quality of sleep you get too—and keeping cool can be a step toward a better quality of sleep.
Why Does Being Cool Help You Sleep?
Your body temperature can change sleep quality by affecting your circadian rhythms (your biological clock). Circadian rhythms are biological processes that repeat every day, such as the dip in core temperature at bedtime and the temperature rise that happens as you wake up.
Researchers found that people had poorer quality sleep in warm sleeping environments. They hypothesized that those environments can prevent people's bodies from reducing their internal temperature, interfering with circadian temperature regulation and leading to poor sleep.
However, that does not mean you need to feel cold while in bed. Being warm can improve your sleep, too. Scientists found that having warmed skin can help people fall asleep faster and enter the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage of sleep.
It can also help your body cool by making your veins dilate; being warm when you fall asleep can help give you the benefits of having a cool sleeping area, too. As such, the key to good sleep could be feeling warm while the air around you is cool.
What Is the Best Temperature for Sleeping?
Chris Winter, MD, sleep specialist and president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, told Health that 65 degrees may be ideal. "That doesn't mean 66 or 67 is terrible, but a cooler environment usually lends itself to a better quality of sleep," said Dr. Winter.
By helping the body lower its core temperature, you'll have a better quality of sleep. But that isn't the case for everyone. Some people say they have an easier time falling asleep when the temperature in their bedroom is in the 70s, said Dr. Winter.
"But if I were to measure the quality of their sleep in that warmer environment versus a cooler one, I would bet it would be better in the cooler environment," said Dr. Winter.
How Can You Stay Cool While Sleeping?
Sleeping at 65 degrees is an easy method to directly change the temperature of your room. This can be as simple as changing your air conditioner settings or investing in fans.
However, if falling asleep in a cool room isn't comfortable for you, Dr. Winter suggested keeping the thermostat low but layering on extra blankets. Blankets are easy to push off in the middle of the night if you do get warm, said Dr. Winter, so you can continue to sleep through the night soundly without waking.
Use Special Bedding
If you cannot change your room temperature or it is still too hot, Dr. Winter recommended investing in cooling bedding, a cooling mattress pad, or cooling pillows.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to not buy special bedding, you could also try putting your pillowcases in the freezer. Then, take one out and use it on your pillow each night before bed. "If you keep your head cool, your body often follows suit," said Dr. Winter.
Cool Your Body Temperature
Besides your bedding and room temperature, you could also cool your body. You could do this with:
- A cold pack
- A glass of ice water next to your bed
- Wearing light, breathable-fabric pajamas (or sleeping naked)
- Using fans to help keep air flowing even when the air conditioning is on
Dr. Winter noted that changing your bedroom temperature is worth doing because it dramatically improves your sleep quality: "If somebody said to me, 'I have a friend who doesn't sleep well. You know nothing about them. What one suggestion would you make that you think odds are would have the most impact on their sleep?' I would say temperature."
How Else Can You Get Better Sleep?
Having good sleep hygiene may look different for each person. Other than keeping your bedroom at a cool temperature, here are some other tips for getting better sleep:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time
- Get rid of any distractions (like noises, bright lights, or TVs)
- Get enough sunlight during the day
- If you are lying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing
Additionally, here are some things to avoid before you go to bed:
- Watching TV
- Using an electronic device (computer, phone, tv, etc.)
- Large meals and beverages
A Quick Review
If you want good quality sleep—which is beneficial to your health in several ways—your best bet is to keep your room cool (around 65 degrees) to support your circadian cycle. Other than the thermostat, you can also use cooling bedding, turn on the fan, and drink cold water to get a better night's sleep.
You can also try to avoid things like watching TV, consuming caffeine, or exercising before bed. If you're still having difficulty sleeping after making these changes, talk to a healthcare provider so they can help determine the cause of your sleep problems.
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sleep.
MedlinePlus. Healthy sleep.
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Get enough sleep.
Obradovich N, Migliorini R, Mednick SC, Fowler JH. Nighttime temperature and human sleep loss in a changing climate. Sci Adv. 2017;3(5):e1601555. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1601555
Harding EC, Franks NP, Wisden W. The temperature dependence of sleep. Front Neurosci. 2019;13:336. doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.00336