Chill Down at Night to Sleep Well

by Blake Herzog

If you’ve been getting more and better sleep lately, it could have more than a little to do with the weather.

One of the standard sleep hygiene tips experts give us — the recommendation to keep your bedroom cool at night — is typically easier to accomplish during winter.

The ideal room temperature can vary from person to person, but most experts put it somewhere in the 60s, while some studies suggest slightly warmer temps may be more beneficial for children and older adults.

Our body temperature usually decreases by about two degrees at night, a process that coincides with the release of higher amounts of melatonin to induce the fatigue and grogginess that leads to restful slumber.

Sleeping in a cooler room accelerates this process and increases the time you spend in REM (rapid eye movement) slumber, during which your body’s ability to control its interior temperature diminishes.

This time of year you may be more concerned about keeping your home’s ambient temperature out of the 50s, though cooler temperatures are believed to be less damaging to sleep quality, up to a point. A good rule of thumb is if you’re shivering, you should turn up the thermostat.

And if you love to take warm showers and baths before bedtime you won’t have to give those up; they help draw your body’s internal heat out through your skin’s surface once you get out, lowering your core temperature.

More sleep pointers

Room temperature is just one of the factors sleep specialists home in on when it comes to creating an environment that promotes slumber. Other pieces of the puzzle include:

  • Keeping bedrooms dark and quiet by using curtains, blinds and blackout curtains and keeping noise to a minimum, unless you find a white noise machine helps to mask other distracting sounds.
  • Maintain consistent sleep and wake times throughout the week and on weekends.
  • Keep electronic screens and other devices out of the bedroom.
  • Get an adequate amount of exercise during the day.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals during the last couple of hours before bedtime.