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sleep tips

Temperature and Sleep: What You can do to Keep Comfortable at Night


Young man in white nightwear sits up sweating in bed with grey linens and pillows

Are you looking for a better night of sleep? Aren’t we all! A big part of this is temperature. It isn’t just the temperature you keep your room at, although that’s certainly a big part of it. For many people, especially those who “sleep hot,” the key is thermoregulation. Thermoregulation is a process that allows your body to maintain its core internal temperature, all day and night. It is no surprise that this optimal body temperature correlates with overall sleep quality. It’s important to understand how thermoregulation works, and what to do if you believe you need a little help doing so, in order to achieve a better night’s sleep. Then, you can decide how to achieve the right body temperature for you.

What is a Normal Body Temperature while Sleeping?

A cooler core body temperature is associated with sleep. Conversely, a warmer core temperature is associated with a faster heart rate and being more awake. Think about how awake you feel during exercising, and it starts to make sense. To know whether your temperature is affecting your sleep, you must first know if yours is normal or not. Your hypothalamus regulates body temperature between 96.8 and 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit over each 24 hour cycle. During a normal circadian rhythm, sleep occurs when your core temperature is dropping towards the lower number.

It is somewhat interesting to note that this only applies to non-REM sleep. The longer the non-REM sleep episode, the more the temperature falls. In REM sleep, when your brain is active, your body temperature rises again.

What Is the Best External Temperature for Falling Asleep?

Scientists and researchers have said that the ideal temperature for falling asleep is in the mid-60 degrees, anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. You should find the temperature that works best for you that is cool enough to help you fall asleep without waking up a few hours later freezing, without being too warm to cause you to wake up from sweating. If you’re like many people, the thought of turning your AC down that low is simply not an option. Your next, and typically best, option is to reduce your external temperature through other means.

These Include:

  1. Use bedding and linens that are seasonally appropriate.
  2. Opt for more breathable fibers, like cotton or linen, instead of synthetics, like polyester, when choosing pajamas.
  3. A warm bath helps cool down your body temperature, so try taking a bath one hour before bed to be cool right in time.

What Are the Best Mattresses for Hot Sleepers?

Beyond just being uncomfortable, sleeping hot leads to less restful sleep and may cause you to wake up during the night, interrupting your sleep cycles. If you are wearing cool pajamas and turning down your AC and nothing is doing the trick, the issue very well may be with your mattress itself. You see, different mattresses types trap heat more than others. If you’re interested in a cooling mattress, read our best cooling mattresses article and consider the following:

Look into your firmness options

The softer the mattress, the more it retains heat because it contours more to your body. As you to sink deeper into the mattress, it envelops your body and traps heat. A firm mattress keeps you above the surface, where it is the coolest.

Stay active

Your body has a lot of energy to burn. It’s a fairly complex natural system, but essentially if you aren’t burning much during the day, you’ll be hotter at night. Regular exercise aids with this issue by helping you to expend that excess energy during the day and leaving you with less at night. This will lead to more restful, cooler sleep.

Be sure to check the mattress’s materials

The actual type of mattress has a lot to do with how cool you stay at night as well. Mattresses that contain a large portion of foam are designed to conform to your body, so, as mentioned above, they trap heat. The same goes for latex mattresses. Look instead for innerspring mattresses, particularly those that were designed with temperature regulation in mind. For instance, the Simmons Beautyrest Lena Luxury Firm Mattress has a comfort layer with a channeled surface designed to increase air flow, coupled with soft an open cell foam that provides a pressure relieving yet cool surface. Additional comfort foams and AirCool foams are added to take pressure off of your shoulders and hips. There are other mattress options similar to this, both from Simmons as well as other mattress manufacturers, like Serta iComfort.

Restlessness and an endless night of tossing and turning is many times the result of being either too hot. Your body has to work very hard in order to self-regulate when external temperatures aren’t optimal, and this hard work makes is difficult to rest at the same time! When external temperatures aren’t ideal, your body will switch back and forth between sweating as a cooling mechanism, and shivering as a warming mechanism. It’s easy to see why this would affect your sleep, making it nearly impossible to stay asleep long enough to reach both Deep Sleep and REM.

It is so important to give your body everything it needs in order to sleep well. For everyone, this means a supportive and high-quality mattress, as well as breathable sheets and pillows. Others may have more individual needs, like a specific type of firm, innerspring mattress or even an extra cooling pad. You can get all of these items, as well as advice on all sleep products from a Sleep Expert at City Mattress!