The Perfect Temperature for Sleeping
Your brain and body temperature
Your brain regulates your core temperature throughout the day and night—a process known as thermoregulation—in order to keep your core temperature at roughly 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. So why do you sweat when you sleep? When your core temperature gets too high, the brain signals your body to sweat, which creates a cooling sensation as the perspiration evaporates from your skin. When your core temperature drops too low, your brain induces shivers—the rapid expansion and contraction of your muscles generates heat. During sleep, of course, excessive shivering or sweating may cause you to wake up.
Your body temperature varies by a degree or two over the course of 24 hours. The brain signals a slight rise in core temperature shortly before you rise each morning and induces a lowering of core temperature about 60 to 90 minutes before you fall asleep. As you snooze, your core temperature drops while you sleep, reaching its lowest point around 5 a.m.
Keep cool to be comfortable
The most restful and comfortable sleep occurs when your sleeping environment mirrors the changes in your core temperature. Lowering the heat or boosting the air conditioning right before bedtime is a great way to mimic your body’s natural drop in temperature. Most experts suggest that the ideal sleeping temperature is in the mid-60s—but the degree of comfortable coolness varies by individual.
Other ways to stay cool while sleeping
- Slow down before bed: Avoid large meals and physical exertion right before bedtime. Digestion and exercise both raise core temperature.
- Take a warm shower or bath before bed: The warm water causes your brain to start the body’s cooling process, inducing sleep.
- Dress lightly: Wear fewer layers. Choose breathable cotton pajamas or fabrics that wick moisture away from the body.
- Promote airflow: Make your room cooler by opening windows. Use fans to bring air inside on cool nights and expel hot air out when a room is stuffy.
- Choose the right mattress and bedding: The materials in your mattress can leave you feeling clammy or uncomfortable. Cotton sheets and an assortment of comforters or blankets gives you the ability to add or shed layers as needed.
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