Finding the best temperature for sleep can feel a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It’s easy to go back and forth between too hot and too cold. But there really is a sweet spot where your body is comfortably cool and optimized for slumber.
In this article, we’ll look at why our bodies prefer a specific temperature range for the best quality sleep and how that fits in with your energy efficiency plans.
The Best Temperature for Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting your thermostat to 65 degrees F for optimal sleep.1 Of course, no two people have the same physiology and will find even small temperature differences have an effect on their sleep.
In fact, men and women tend to conserve body heat at different rates. When the body is exposed to cold air, it starts directing more blood to your vital organs and away from your hands and feet. This happens for women starting at just below 70 degrees F, and for men at 67 or 68 degrees F.2
So, experimenting between 60 and 70 degrees F for bedtime is a good range.
While the idea of being cozy generally goes hand in hand with being warm, when it comes to sleep this is not actually the case. Of course, you’ll need to be warm enough that your body can relax, but studies show that cooler air temperatures facilitate sleep.3
This is because your body has an internal thermostat based on your circadian rhythm. Your brain tries to adjust to the ideal temperature for sleep every night. It’s easier to hit that number if the room is cooler (between 60 and 70 degrees F). Wander too far beneath or above your body’s natural sleeping temperature and it could wake you up.
Importance of Sleeping at the Right Temperature
Circadian rhythm is a natural cycle telling your body when it’s time to rest and time to be awake. When you wake in the morning, your body temperature rises to make you alert for the day’s tasks. This temperature continues to rise slowly through the day until you head into the evening.
At this point, your body temperature slowly drops to prepare for sleep again. It’s a fascinating natural phenomenon, and one you want to support in order to feel your best.
Disturbing the natural circadian rhythm by having the thermostat either up too high or down too low can interfere with REM sleep, which is vital for activating the parts of our brains that organize information, and help us to think clearly and learn.4 With this in mind, let’s look at how to balance energy bills and REM sleep to give you the ideal and most comfortable range.
Temperature, Sleep, and Energy Efficiency
A reasonable range for house temperatures during the day to both save on your energy bill and keep everyone comfortable in bed is between 68 and 72 degrees F. At night, you could go as low as 60 or 62 degrees F to really earn your energy saver gold star. But if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night a lot, take note of how you feel when you wake up.
Are you too hot and flinging the blankets off? Or are your cold feet sending a signal to your brain that it’s not safe to sleep in these bitterly cold temperatures? Keep track of what seems to be waking you up so you’ll know which direction to nudge the thermostat.
Tips for the Best Sleep
Try setting your thermostat to 65 degrees F before bed. Then try decreasing this by one degree every other night or once a week until you get to between 62 and 60 degrees F. If you find that you’re still sleeping well, congrats! Your body and your energy savings plan are in cahoots.
But if you find that moving the thermostat down means you wake up in the middle of the night, or that you’re having more trouble dozing off in the first place, try these tips before heading for the thermostat.
- Sleep wearing socks and maybe even gloves. Though this might seem funny, it’s a logical first step towards striking the balance between soothing cooled skin and being too warm. Try addressing these problem areas first if you’re too cold.
- If you’re too warm, try sleeping in more breathable fabric such as cotton, sleeping with a lighter blanket, and swapping out your memory foam pillows for down or cotton-stuffed pillows. Even though memory foam is comfortable, it can warm you up a little too much if you tend to sleep warm.
For more ideas on how to save money and energy, see this helpful infographic with 12 tips.