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Can’t Sleep? Why Temperature Might Be To Blame

Sleep is one of the most important functions your body performs to keep itself healthy. That’s why having good sleep hygiene is crucial to a good night’s rest. Temperature is an important part of that good hygiene. H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University says, “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperaturethe temperature your brain is trying to achievegoes down. Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too cold or too hot, the body struggles to achieve that set point.

This mild drop in body temperature is what actually induces sleep. That’s why it’s easier to fall asleep in a room that’s a bit cooler. But if it becomes uncomfortably cold, you are more likely to wake up. The comfort level of your bedroom temperature also affects the quality of REM, or rapid eye movement sleep, the stage in which you dream.

Different people have different levels of comfort. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all magic number. Pay attention to your own comfort levels and adjust the temperature as needed. You should also pay attention to your surroundings for temperature cues. Memory foam pillows might feel good because they mold to your body shape, but they can make you too hot. Cold feet can also be disruptive to sleep. Try a pair of socks at night.

Heat can also have some pretty powerful effects on our sleep cycle. Even if you aren’t feeling anxious, sudden hot temperatures can actually cause your body to think you’re anxious. If your body temperature rises to about 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit for even half an hour, you can experience changes like increased heart rate, increased respiration, dehydration, a reduction in bodily fluids and a drop in blood pressure.

Heat puts the body in a naturally anxious state. If you’re too hot, you may find that your dreams become more vivid or uneasy during sleep.

While you can’t prevent seasonal changes, you can do your best to find the ideal temperature for your bedroom and stick with it for a better night’s rest.