Who likes to turn their room into an ice cave before bedtime? Me too. But as it turns out, us crank-the-AC sleepers are onto something when it comes to finding the best temperature for catching Z's.
Your body temperature naturally drops to prepare for sleep, and many experts say you should keep your thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit to help facilitate this decrease. But Chris Winter, MD, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, tells Health that he thinks 65 degrees is ideal. "That doesn't mean 66 or 67 is terrible, but a cooler environment usually lends itself to a better quality of sleep," Dr. Winter tells Health.
By helping the body lower its core temperature, you'll generally fall asleep faster. But that isn't the case for everyone. Some people say they have an easier time falling asleep when the temperature in their bedroom is in the 70s, Dr. Winter says. "But if I were to measure the quality of their sleep in that warmer environment versus a cooler one, I would bet it would be better in the cooler environment."
This may have to do with your body's circadian rhythms, also know as your biological clock. Circadian rhythms are biological processes that repeat every day—such as the dip in core temperature at bedtime and then the temperature rise that happens as you wake up. Studies have shown that warm sleeping environments can interfere with circadian temperature regulation by preventing the body from reducing its internal thermostat, leading to poor sleep.
That doesn't mean you have to shiver under the covers all night. Dr. Winter suggests keeping the thermostat low but layering on extra blankets if falling asleep in a cool room isn't comfortable for you. Blankets are easy to push off in the middle of the night if you do get warm, he says, so you can continue to sleep through the night soundly without waking.
If your room doesn't feel cool enough at bedtime, Dr. Winter recommends investing in cooling bedding, such as PeachSkinSheets Night Sweats Sheet Set ($80; amazon.com) or the Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow ($169; amazon.com). Or try putting some pillow cases in the freezer and popping one on your pillow each night before bed. "If you keep your head cool, your body often follows suit," he says.
The National Sleep Foundation also recommends keeping a cold pack or a glass of ice water next to your bed for cooling off during the night, in addition to wearing light, breathable-fabric pajamas (or sleeping naked), and using fans to help keep air flowing even when the air conditioning is on.
Whatever you need to do to get your bedroom temperature in the 60s, Dr. Winter says it's worth it because it's a game-changer when it comes to sleep quality: "If somebody said to me, 'I have a friend who doesn't sleep well. You know nothing about them. What one suggestion would you make that you think odds are would have the most impact on their sleep?' I would say temperature."