If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you’ve probably tried the obvious tricks – a pitch-black room, limiting water intake, and not eating too close to bedtime.
But experts say there’s one crucial thing that most people overlook: the temperature of your bedroom.
Neurologist and sleep expert Dr Chris Winter told DailyMail.com that keeping your room cool at night ‘makes a big difference.’
The Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 degrees celsius) to help the body drift off to sleep faster. For comparison, the average home is typically between 75-80F (24-27C).
You may have even noticed when you wake up in the morning that your feet are poking out from under the covers. This is your body naturally trying to regulate temperature.
The Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit to help the body drift off to sleep faster
About a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep – at least seven hours a night – according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A lack of sleep has consistently been linked to chronic health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression.
Turning down your bedroom temperature could help reduce those risks.
‘I think a lot of people will surprise themselves if they keep their work environment or living environment relatively warmer during the day and then cooler at night…it makes a big difference,’ Dr Winter said.
In a 2021 report by OnePoll, 31 percent of surveyed Americans reported being too hot or too cold was the main reason they didn’t get enough sleep.
Sleep is regulated by the circadian rhythm, which is comprised of the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. It acts as the body’s internal clock, getting cues from the environment to regulate vital functions, like body temperature.
Neurologist and sleep expert Dr Chris Winter recommended using temperature-controlled mattresses and cool pillows to lower bedroom temperatures at night
Right before you fall asleep, your body temperature drops, signaling that it’s time for bed.
‘The place where your temperature is dropping the fastest is usually when people fall asleep,’ Dr Winter said. ‘If you’re kind of a night owl, your temperatures might stay a little bit higher longer. If you’re more of a morning person, your temperatures might fall a little earlier.
Supporting that with a colder bedroom does tend to help with sleep.’
Keeping the bedroom cold helps keep that temperature cooler, which allows you to drift off to sleep easier.
However, warmer temperatures are more likely to keep you up longer by causing restlessness. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the body naturally stops controlling behaviors like sweating and shivering. Excessively hot spaces, therefore, lead to less time spent in REM sleep.
Too little REM sleep could lead to forgetfulness and make it harder to get up in the morning.
Data from United Health Foundation showed about a third of adults fail to get at least seven hours of sleep a night until they are 65 years old. From there, the levels drop to 26 percent — but this is still more than a quarter of older adults getting less than seven hours a night
The same dataset showed men are more likely to get insufficient sleep compared to women
A study in the journal Environmental Research, for example, found that a bedroom that’s too warm impacted the body’s temperature regulation, causing fatigue.
Turning down your thermostat has a host of health benefits.
A study in the journal Diabetes found that sleeping in a 66 degree room increases metabolism. This is because that temperature increases brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue, which is a specific type of fat activated in response to cold temperatures. It helps produce heat and maintain body temperature, in turn helping you burn calories.
This could also help alleviate stress. Though anxiety could keep you from drifting off, one physical sign of stress is elevated body temperature, so a cool room can combat that.
Additionally, a 2018 study in the journal Molecules found that lower temperatures could stimulate melatonin production, a hormone directly linked to sleep.
‘We live our lives at 73 degrees or 68 degrees, whatever we have our thermostat set at, and it doesn’t change,’ Dr Winter said. ‘You can really manipulate and improve people’s sleep by manipulating temperature.’
The Sleep Foundation recommends keeping the ambient room temperature between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cooler temperatures could help the millions of Americans who don’t get enough sleep catch some extra z’s.
The CDC also says that 8.4 percent of US adults take pills to fall asleep, more than double the amount who took them 10 years prior.
Similar to warm temperatures, these could rob the body of REM sleep.
The agency also recommended all Americans should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Children aged six to 12 years need nine to 12 hours a night, while teenagers should get eight to ten hours.
If you’re used to keeping your bedroom at a specific temperature, Dr Winter suggested gradually turning down the AC. For example, if you keep it at 70 degrees, try 67 for a few days.
Some mattresses and mattress pads also have adjustable settings. However, you don’t even need to go out any buy anything new to cool the room down.
Dr Winter recommended sticking extra pillow cases in the freezer until it’s time for bed to keep your head cooler. ‘If you can keep your head cool, the rest of your body feels a lot cooler too,’ he said.
I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody who did these things who didn’t think it was really helpful.’