Having trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep? It may not be your mattress, sheets, snoring partner or crying kitties. Your thermostat may be the culprit. For most adults, the best room temperature for sleeping is somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit; a range between 60 and 67 degrees is often cited by experts.
Generally speaking, a warmer body is a more awake body, while a cooler body is a sleepier one. In fact, an inability to “thermoregulate” — basically, when the body isn’t great at releasing heat — is associated with insomnia. Several studies have shown that lowering the body’s temperature using various techniques including a “cooling cap” can help insomniacs fall right to sleep. Your brain loves the cold, which is why it feels so nice to put your head down on a cool pillow.
It’s worth noting that while cool is good, cold is not. If you’re shivering, you won’t sleep deeply. Research indicates that cold feet may keep you awake, and a pair of socks can help regulate body temperature, easing you into sleep. Heating cold feet causes vasodilation — dilation of the blood vessels — which may tell the brain that it’s time for bed. Some research has shown that the more vasodilation in the hands and feet, the easier it is to fall asleep. This may be a scientific validation of the old wives’ tale that a hot water bottle at the foot of your bed helps you sleep.
What about my baby?
While a lower thermostat is better for adults, infants and toddlers need their rooms slightly warmer—between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit is considered ideal. Make sure you keep cribs or beds positioned away from fans and windows so that the temperature the baby feels stays consistent. It’s also important not to over-bundle your infants. Stick with a onesie or swaddle in the winter. Pajamas and a sleep sack work well, too.