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The Best Temperature for Sleeping

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

how temperature affects sleep

Story at-a-glance -

  • Your body temperature cycles along with your sleep-wake rhythm, decreasing at night while you’re asleep and increasing during the day
  • Heat combined with high levels of humidity may be bad for sleep, as humid heat exposure suppresses the decrease in core body temperature that normally occurs with sleep
  • Cold exposure primarily affects the later sleep segment, when REM sleep occurs; however, cold is unlikely to have as great an effect as heat in real-life situations, as most people use sleepwear or bedding to offset cold temperatures at night
  • Increases in nighttime temperatures increased self-reported nights of insufficient sleep
  • Raising your skin temperature promotes the onset of sleep, so taking a hot shower before bed or wearing socks to sleep can be beneficial
  • Sleeping in a cool room for four weeks doubled the volume of brown fat in one study, improving insulin sensitivity at the same time

If you've ever woken up because you're too hot or cold, you know that temperature extremes can significantly affect your sleep quality. But even subtle differences in temperature can influence your sleep, for better or worse. Your body temperature cycles along with your sleep-wake rhythm, decreasing at night while you're asleep and increasing during the day.

You're most likely to sleep when your core body temperature decreases and unlikely to sleep while it's on the rise. Further, after you fall asleep, your core body temperature will decrease even more, but your peripheral skin temperature, which plays a role in maintaining your body's core temperature by adjusting blood flow to your skin, remains high.

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