Whether you're in the midst of a heatwave or in the middle of winter, it's hard to fall asleep when the temperature isn't right. You can try turning the AC up or blasting a fan straight at your face, but trying to sleep with sweaty sheets is near impossible. Conversely, if your toes are frozen and no number of blankets can stop you from shivering, it's unlikely you're going to get a great night's sleep.
So what's the best temperature for sleep? It's cooler than you might think. There's a science behind how the temperature of our bedrooms can promote healthy sleep hygiene, and being at your best temperature not only helps you wind down well but also allows your body to rest and recover.
To find out the ideal temperature and why it matters, we've spoken to a few sleep experts and medical practitioners. They've given me some professional advice on the proper temperature and how to keep it regulated all night long.
As a hot sleeper myself, I've also gone into detail on the best temperature-regulating sleep products like the best mattress for hot sleepers. Tried and tested by us, learning a little about how your bedding could be ruining your sleep can get you back to sleeping soundly.
The best temperature for sleep
After speaking to a range of sleep experts, I've concluded that the best temperature for sleep is 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18°C). While this will of course vary from person to person, it's a good average. You should aim to set your thermostat somewhere between 60 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (15-24°C).
As Dr Chris Winter, MD explains, 'nighttime temperatures should be cooler than what you prefer during the day. If you normally keep your temperature at 75°F during the day, try dropping it down to 65°F at night for a week to see how it impacts your sleep'.
Victoria Cedeno, Brand Specialist at Zinus, agrees that 'keeping your room on the cool side, between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, will promote better sleep'. She adds that this is because when 'you prepare for sleep, your metabolism naturally begins to slow down, and in doing so, your core temperature drops'.
As part of your sleep cycle, Dr Chris Winter explains that 'your body temperature is constantly changing throughout the day. It will routinely peak in the mid to late afternoon, drop to its coolest point around 5 am, and then begin climbing again. This cycle repeats over and over and will correspond with light levels and circadian rhythm.'
Dr. Chris Winter is currently the owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine Clinic and CNSM Consulting, and was formerly the medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, which he established in 2004. Dr. Winter is not only an active participant in patient care but a dynamic speaker and researcher on the science of sleep.
Dr. Winter’s current research focuses on sleep and athletic performance. He has served as a consultant for several MLB teams, NBA/WNBA teams, the NHL, and the NFL.
Dr. Winter regularly appears on Fox News as a sleep and neurology expert and regularly answers readers’ questions about sleep. He contributes to several publications and has written two acclaimed books, The Sleep Solution and The Rested Child.
Brand Specialist at Zinus, Victoria is perfectly placed to comment on all things home and sleep. From the latest trends to top tips for encouraging good sleep health, the South Korean brand is already well-established in the USA and is looking to make its mark on the UK and EU market.
Why the right temperature matters
When your body temperature is not at this optimum level, it will affect sleep. Dr Winter says that 'most people won't sleep well when it's hot, as changes in temperatures will trigger changes in sleep patterns and quality. Hotter temperatures can decrease the amount of 'slow wave' sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during the night, also known as deep sleep. Deep sleep is critical to wellbeing because it’s the most restorative and restful part of the night and is what helps people wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.'
Hafiz Shariff, sleep expert and founder of Owl + Lark further explains the benefits of setting your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit:
Promote comfort: Keeping your temperature regulated, will create a more comfortable sleeping environment. 'It can also help to prevent excessive sweating, hot flashes, and general discomfort that can disturb sleep,' adds Shariff.
Support melatonin release: Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Cooler, ideal sleep temperatures 'stimulate the release of melatonin, which signals to the body that it is time to sleep'.
Overall enhance sleep quality: With fewer sleep disturbances, being at the best temperature for sleep can 'increase the chances of entering and staying in the important REM and deep sleep stages, resulting in a better quality of sleep.
Sleep expert and founder of Owl + Lark Hafiz Shariff has extensively researched human circadian rhythms and coined the term 'circadian fitness'. Shariff has been featured in publications such as Stylist, the Evening Standard, and the Metro.
How to keep an ideal temperature
The first is to exercise at least an hour before bed. Dr Winter advises that you should end any exercise before you decide to settle down for sleep as any 'physical activity can be stimulating and make it harder for you to fall asleep'.
Another tip is to take a warm shower at night. 'It might sound counterintuitive, but it can actually help you get more sound sleep,' explains Winter, 'the warm water raises your core temperature, but it will drop when you get out because the ambient air is cooler than the hot water you bathed in.' The decrease in body temperature helps you feel tired and get to sleep a little easier.
An obvious tip, but one easy to forget, is to programme your thermostat on a timer. Setting the temperature to the mid-60s at night and 'scheduling it to warm up in the morning before your alarm goes off can help you sleep better and wake up easier'.
Finally, he suggests investing in products that regulate your temperature. 'There are tons of products like cooling sheets, breathable pillows, and mattress toppers that can help you sleep more comfortably'.
The best temperature regulating sleep products
To help you stay cool on hot nights and warm in the winter, these three sleep products are great at regulating your temperature. Tried and tested by us, cooling bed sheets are the simplest way to ensure you stay feeling fresh throughout the night. However, if you're really suffering from overheating at night, it's worth investing in the best cooling mattress, or a cooling mattress topper if your current bed is in good condition.
Best cooling bed sheets
Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
Material: Bamboo lyocell
OEKO-TEK certified: Yes
+ Naturally cool to the touch
+ Stylish sateen finish
- Silky look isn't for everyone
These bamboo sheets are amazing at keeping you cool at night. Made from CleanBamboo fabric the ettitude bed sheets are the best cooling sheets I've reviewed, and I reach for them in summer the most. Bamboo is naturally cooling, temperature regulating, and moisture-wicking for sweat-free comfortable sleep.
Best cooling mattress
Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king
Depth: 6", 8", 10" or 12"
+ Cooling gel is effective for hot sleepers
+ Supportive for back and side sleepers
- Weak edge support
The Zinus cooling gel memory foam mattress is great at keeping sleepers cool and comfortable all night long. We loved how the gel layer offers support for back pain and overall temperature regulation. Most memory foam mattresses sleep hot. With depth four options, this is a great cooling mattress for hot sleepers in need of a quick, inexpensive replacement.
Our Zinus cooling gel memory foam mattress review has more details.
Best cooling mattress protector
Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king
Material: TENCEL™ lyocell + Mica nylon blend shell, CLIMA fiber blend fill
+ Cool to the touch
+ Sustainable fabrics
- Spot clean only
This cooling mattress protector helped my bed feel cool during the summer months. The cold-to-the-touch material made my sleep surface feel fresh all night long. It's also sustainably made, with CLIMA filler material and a eucalyptus-based Tencel Lyocell cover, which is a naturally cooling material. If you're not in need of a new mattress or sheets, I suggest adding this one to your bed for a quick fix.
Is it better to sleep hot or cold?
It's always better to sleep cooler than warmer. Experts advise that a cooler temperature will help you sleep better. When your body prepares itself for sleep, it will naturally cool down. Warmer temperatures are associated with being awake and will therefore prevent you from falling asleep quicker. Temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit will disrupt sleep.
Should you sleep with a window open?
While cracking a window open at night when you're too hot may seem like a good idea, leaving a window open while you sleep can negatively impact your health. Experts suggest that an open window can dry out nasal cavities and allow germs and bacteria to enter your bedroom. This can overwhelm an immune system and make you ill.
Leaving the window open as you sleep could also make your room too cold. Temperatures below 54 degrees Fahrenheit could cause you to lay awake at night by being too cold, resulting in restless, uncomfortable sleep.
We all know how good it feels to get a great night's sleep, but the benefits go beyond being less tired. Restorative slumber is essential for health and well-being, so as the hot weather arrives, it's important to keep your temperature regulated as much as possible. Set your AC, buy some fresh bedding, or invest in a cooling mattress and sleep sweat-free.
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Louise is your eCommerce Editor and sleep specialist to help you wind down well. A connoisseur of the mattress world, Louise previously covered sleep and wellness (as well as the occasional organizational buy) at Real Homes, and has tried, tested, and reviewed some of the buys for your bedroom. With an MA in International Journalism and PR experience, Louise brings bags of bedding expertise and enjoys nothing more than helping readers find solutions and products that best suit their sleep needs.
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