With the hottest months of the year upon us, we want to keep cool, but also keep our power bill in check. Are you the type that turns the thermostat up before bed to save a few bucks? That bit of frugality may impact how well we’re resting, says new science. As it turns out, our bodies have an optimal sleeping temperature, and it’s pretty chilly.
According to Dr. Christopher Winter, the Medical Director at Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, our bedroom temperatures should register between 60 to 67 degrees for optimal shuteye. If we drift above 75 degrees or below 54 degrees, our sleep can suffer.
Why? It has to do with how our body temperature changes throughout the day. We may think our internal temps is fairly static, but not so. Over a 24 hour period, the temperature of our bodies naturally peak and decline. Our body temperatures are at their highest in the early afternoon and reach their lowest around 5 a.m. When falling asleep, our bodies naturally cool off. So, getting and keeping our bodies at lower temperatures faster promotes deeper sleep.
And we all know that better sleep equals better health. For all the cold-sleepers out there, this is great news. For those of us who enjoy a heap of toasty blankets, not so much. But keep calm and read on – research shows that sleeping in cooler temperatures will pay off big time.
Here is a short list of the ways sleeping in a cool room can benefit our overall health, and some suggestions for how to cool down easily come bedtime.
1. Sleep Will Come Easier – Remember how we mentioned our bodies’ changing internal temperature? This fact is key here. When we settle down in our nice, cool bedroom for the evening, our bodies can get to that optimal decreased temperature with more ease. And this signals our bodies that it’s time to rest.
If your sleeping conditions are too hot or too cold, your body will have a more difficult time moderating its internal thermostat. The result is that you may find yourself tossing and turning for a period of time before sleep sets in. Furthermore, when our bodies can’t achieve effective temperature regulation, we won’t reach deep sleep. In a cool room, we hit the target temperature mark our bodies aim for faster, and we find ourselves in deep sleep faster, too.
2. You’ll Maximize the Beauty Part of Your Rest – Read as: sleeping in cooler rooms can keep you looking younger. How? It all comes down to the hormone melatonin.
According to doctors, sleeping in a room warmer than 70 degrees will inhibit your body from cooling down naturally, as it does through sleep and the related release of melatonin. Melatonin is one of our most powerful anti-aging hormones, and it is released in response to darkness and a lower body temperature.
As our bodies cool off even more during the night, we pump out elevated levels of growth hormone – another crucial anti-aging hormone. With greater amounts of Melatonin and growth hormone surging through your sleeping body, you will look, and even feel, younger in the morning.
3. Your Risk of Metabolic Disease will Decrease – Recent studies have shown that lowering your thermostat before bed can help lower your risk of certain metabolic diseases, like diabetes.
In one study, researchers compared the caloric expenditures and blood sugar/insulin levels of test subjects sleeping at 75 degrees versus 66 degrees. After four months of monitoring the sleepers, scientists concluded that those sleeping in the 66-degree room experienced more metabolic advantages than their warmer counterparts. For instance, after periods of sleeping in a colder environment, the amount of “brown fat” (or good fat) of test subjects nearly doubled.
Relatedly, colder-sleepers burned more calories throughout their day than warmer-sleepers. These two findings work in conjunction to point to a lessening of the risk of diabetes and other types of metabolic conditions over time.
4. Sleeping Naked Will Help You Stay Cool and Reduce Stress – Good news! Sleeping in our birthday suits is one cool way to cool our body temperatures down at night. By sleeping naked, your body temperature will naturally drop, and give your body a kick-start to nighttime temperature regulation.
Consider this other positive effect. When you sleep nude, you sleep cooler. And when you sleep cooler, your body produces less cortisol throughout the night. A naturally occurring hormone, Cortisol is associated with weight gain and (you guessed it) stress. Not only will sleeping naked keep your cortisol levels down low, it will also lead to more moderate appetites and anxiety the next day. I call that a win-win.
5. Sleeping Naked With Someone Else Will Help, Too – Even better news! Sleeping nude with someone else comes with a slew of other health benefits. According to research, couples that sleep naked together experience more contented relationships than those that hit the hay in full pajamas. Why?
Here, it comes down to skin-to-skin contact. When we sleep naked with our partners, we can touch their skin more freely, and our bodies respond in kind by producing a healthful hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is associated with bonding and sexual responsiveness, but it also improves our individual health and psyche. Oxytocin combats stress and depression and lowers blood pressure. If that’s not (another) good reason to sleep naked with your partner, I don’t know what is.