But does a cold room result in better sleep along with additional health benefits? Science suggests that playing with the thermostat, and your bedding, can actually make a big difference.
In fact, there’s lots of evidence supporting the claim that a cooler room equates to better sleep. The science behind cold temperatures and better sleep is straightforward. Throughout the day, your body temperature instinctively rises and falls. When you begin to fall asleep, your body naturally cools off. If you are able to speed up the cooling off process, and reach a lower body temperature sooner, it will become easier to fall asleep.
Multiple studies back this claim, including one from the Center for Chronobiology in Switzerland which shows that a drop in your core temperature triggers your body to begin preparing for sleep. Dr. Francesco Celi, chair of Virginia Commonwealth University’s division of endocrinology and metabolism, also found that even a small reduction in bedroom temperature affects melatonin production, a chemical that helps you fall asleep.
But is a colder room also a healthier room? New studies suggest that a cool room could induce calorie-burn by increasing your stores of brown fat. Although brown fat doesn’t sound healthy, it actually helps your body burn calories and dispose of excess blood sugar. In fact, Dr. Celi found that healthy men who spent a month sleeping in a 66 degree room increased their stores of metabolically active brown fat. By burning more calories and increasing your body’s amount of brown fat, you can actually lessen your risk of metabolic disease.
A cooler room can also help you stay looking and feeling younger. Natasha Turner, a renowned naturopathic doctor says that sleeping in conditions above 70 degrees will inhibit your body from cooling down naturally. When your body doesn’t cool down naturally, it won’t release melatonin or produce elevated levels of growth hormone; both of which are crucial to helping you look, and feel younger.
These studies make it seem pretty clear; If you want a better and healthier night of sleep, you should turn down the thermostat. Unfortunately, it isn’t so straightforward.
In Celi’s brown fat experiment, the men slept under thin sheets and were prone to shivering. All that shivering might be beneficial to the production of brown fat, but it’s not going to help you get a great night’s sleep.
A full, uninterrupted night of sleep is more important to your health than excess production of brown fat. The trick is to keep your room cool so you fall sleep easier, but not so cold where you wake up frequently during the night. What experts suggest, is to focus on your body temperature as opposed to the room’s temperature. The most important thing to do is keep your skin temperature “comfortable”. Most sleepers can relate to having to push the covers off in order to fall asleep, only to pull them back on after waking up during the middle of the night shivering. As a result, you need to focus on your bedding and its impact on your body temperature.
Outlast Technologies LLC, an expert in temperature regulating phase change materials, performed several tests on sleeping comfort and the sleeping climate. They found that temperature is not the only indicator in creating a comfortable sleeping environment. Another important key to sleep comfort is efficiently managing moisture.
If you are having trouble staying cool and comfortable during sleep, look at your bedding. You should be sleeping on bedding that stays cool and manages moisture. The great thing about temperature regulating bedding is it’s designed to keep you the perfect temperature so you don’t become too hot or too cold during sleep.
All of this information can be a lot to digest but here’s the bottom line. A cold room can be healthier, but you should go beyond turning down the thermostat. Keep your room cool, while also keeping your skin the “perfect temperature” with the right bedding. In addition to setting your thermostat somewhere around 65 degrees, you must also layer your bed with bedding designed to regulate your body temperature (and your partner’s) so your sleep is uninterrupted.