What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep?

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorJune 18, 2024
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Woman sleeping at night

Do you often go to bed feeling physically and mentally tired, but struggle to fall asleep, spending most of the night tossing and turning? The temperature in your bedroom could be to blame. A room that’s too hot or cold can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to grogginess in the morning.

So, what’s the best temperature for sleep? HVAC.com provides the answer and shares helpful tips to ensure your bedroom is the ideal temperature and humidity level to ensure a good night’s sleep.

The Ideal Temperature for Sleeping

While online recommendations vary, the consensus is that the ideal sleep temperature should generally be a few degrees cooler than the indoor daytime temperature. For most people, the ideal temperature for sleep is about 65 to 68 Fahrenheit with covers on, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Sleep Foundation, meanwhile, recommends a temperature of about 65º F, while the National Sleep Foundation suggests setting the thermostat between 60 to 67.

If these sleep temperatures seem a bit chilly and you prefer a warmer bedroom at night, start by adjusting the thermostat 2-3 degrees.

How Does Humidity Affect Sleep?

Indoor humidity levels can also play a role in how well you sleep. The ideal humidity level in a bedroom for optimal sleep is generally between 30 and 50%, depending on the season. According to the National Sleep Foundation, maintaining this range promotes a comfortable sleep environment by preventing dryness during the winter or excessive dampness during the warmer months.

High humidity levels in the bedroom, especially above 60%, can cause discomfort during sleep due to increased moisture in the air, which may contribute to difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, and a feeling of stickiness on the skin. Meanwhile, lower humidity in the winter, typically below 30%, can disrupt sleep by causing dryness in nasal passages and the throat, leading to discomfort and potentially increased snoring.

Why the Right Sleep Temperature Matters

Your bedroom’s temperature plays a significant role in how well you sleep at night. According to medical studies, a room that’s slightly cool at night helps facilitate the natural drop in core body temperature that occurs during sleep.

This drop in body temperature is essential for entering and maintaining deep sleep stages, including REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is crucial for cognitive function, memory consolidation, and overall restorative sleep.

Sleeping in a bedroom with a temperature between 70 to 75 or higher can prevent you from achieving this deeper, more restorative sleep, according to studies published in 2024. Instead, you may only reach lighter stages of sleep, causing frequent wake ups in the middle of the night and tiredness in the morning.

Using Your Thermostat and HVAC System to Achieve a Better Night’s Sleep

Install a Programmable or Smart Thermostat

If you forget to adjust the temperature before you go to sleep – or don’t want to walk downstairs right before bed – consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat. These thermostats allow you to pre-set the ideal temperatures in your home based on the time and day.

For example, you can adjust the temperature to 72 degrees during the day and have it automatically drop to 65 between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. while you’re asleep.

Use Dehumidifiers and Humidifiers

A sticky bedroom during the summer can make it incredibly uncomfortable and difficult to fall asleep. Air conditioners pull excess moisture from the air to keep relative humidity levels under 50%; however, older and inefficient units can struggle to keep up.

You can place a portable dehumidifier in your bedroom to lower humidity levels, or spend a little extra and install a whole-house dehumidifier which provides coverage for the entire home.

Subsequently, during the winter, indoor humidity levels often fall below 30%. This can cause poor sleep due to increased nasal congestion, dry throat, and irritated respiratory passages, making it harder to breathe comfortably throughout the night. Portable and whole-house humidifiers are available to add needed moisture to the air for a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Upgrade Your HVAC System

If your bedroom is uncomfortable to sleep in despite your best efforts, consider upgrading your HVAC system. Once heating and cooling systems surpass 10 years, they often struggle to provide effective heating, cooling, and humidity control, making it difficult to get comfortable and sleep sound at night.

Other Tips to Achieve a Good Night’s Sleep

Other simple tips to help improve your comfort levels at night include:

  • Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Consider using blackout shades or blinds to prevent light from getting in.
  • Turn off noisy distractions such as TVs, smartphones, and radios. Although it may be comforting to fall asleep to your favorite show or movie, sleeping with the TV on can overstimulate your brain, reduce how much sleep you get, and suppress melatonin production, leading to poor sleep quality and potential health issues. Instead, wear ear plugs, or run a fan or sound machine that creates white noise.
  • Use supportive and comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Set a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends.
  • Create a bedtime routine. This may include taking a warm bath and reading for a half hour before you turn off the lights.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours before going to bed and limit caffeine starting in the afternoon.
  • Wear light clothing.
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