Control over the thermostat can be a great divider in many homes.
With couples, it is not uncommon for one partner to sleep cold, while the other wakes up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat.
However, before you begin having heated debates (pun intended) with your significant other, consider that the temperature setting in your bedroom is not the real problem.
Why Temperature Variations Occur
First, temperature fluctuations during sleep are a pretty regular occurrence. In reality, the body’s temperature is never genuinely stable, even during wake time.
What we consider “normal” temperature, 98.6 degrees, is the average of the typical temperature range for the body when it is functioning correctly. Over every 24 hours, the body sees minor temperature variations from this mean in line with the body’s internal clock.
Adjusting the body’s core temperature is one way the circadian rhythm controls the sleep/wake cycle amongst a host of other bodily functions. Hence, it is no surprise that the body’s temperature can vary significantly during sleep.
Anything that throws off this intricate system can leave you feeling too cold or too hot during sleep.
Temperature disparities during sleep may stem from biochemical roots like:
How to Regulate Your Body Temperature During Sleep
Whether the temperature is rising or approaching the colder winter months, you don’t have to leave your body temperature during sleep to the elements. With a few optimizations to your sleeping environment, you can help keep your body temperature balanced through the night.
However, the steps to take to regulate your body temperature during sleep does depend on whether you are feeling too hot or cold.
Regulating Your Body Temperature when Sleeping too Cold
When it comes to temperature issues with sleep, most of the complaints will come from people having a hard time dealing with the heat.
In reality, multiple research studies recommend sleeping in cooler environments, and they can help aid sleep onset and promote smoother sleep. Plus, being too cold is rarely ever a problem, and is often a far easier problem to fix.
However, sometimes, when the body’s thermoregulation is impaired, it does flip to this side of things, leaving you shivering through the night.
While being too cold will often not interrupt your sleep, it can make falling asleep in the first place significantly harder. And the discomfort doesn’t help either. However, the good news is that you can often fix this issue with a few easy steps.
Check the Thermostat
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep experts agree that the optimal room temperature for sleep is around the 65-degree mark. However, we posit that individual differences can have a big say in where you should place your thermostat’s dial.
Cold tolerance varies from one individual to another. What one person considers bearable may be akin to sleeping in an icebox for you.
Hence, while the recommended 65°F range may be the perfect setup for most people, don’t be afraid to throw in a few extra degrees if this standard feels too cold.
Check for open windows. Outside temperatures can drop significantly during the night, creating an influx of cold air into your bedroom.
Be careful not to let loose and set the temperature a tad too high. While the perfect temperature for you may vary from the mean, in general, your body has to cool down for you to sleep properly.
Your body temperature ties in directly to the circadian rhythm, which directs a host of bodily functions, including sleepiness. When your body’s core temperature drops, this system slows down your metabolism and stimulates the release of melatonin, a neurotransmitter critical to sleep onset and quality of sleep.
Sleeping with the temperature too high can make it significantly harder to stay asleep during the night.
Load up on Covers
If the thermostat is not getting the job done, another effective solution to feeling too cold is to bundle up with blankets. This option can also be an excellent solution for cold sleepers who share their bedroom with a partner.
For people who often sleep cold, the right fluffy covers should end all worries. You can use multiple sheets if necessary, adjusting the setup to match your specific situation.
Check for Fever and other Ailments
If you are feeling notably colder than usual, and can’t seem to get comfy even with the thermostat set right and multiple blankets layered on your frame, the problem may stem from a deeper issue.
Fever is a common offender.
Check your temperature to ascertain if you have a fever and consider visiting the doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Excessive cold during sleep, especially in your extremities, may also stem from circulatory issues. For people with decreased vascular function, the lack of adequate blood flow to the limbs and other extremities can lead to them feeling excessively cold.
Consuming a large meal or alcohol before bed can also lead to temporary vascular problems.
Both food and alcohol can place tasking demands on your digestive system. Since this system is one of the most energy-intensive in the body, it can draw blood away from the skin’s surface to function correctly.
Vascular issues are a common occurrence amongst the elderly, but can also stem from inflammatory conditions and diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
Liaise with your healthcare practitioner to figure out effective measures to improve your circulation and the best course of treatment for underlying conditions.
Skip Your Warm Shower
Warm showers are great for sleep. They can help you relax, help you fall asleep faster, and significantly improve your sleep quality.
However, many of these potential benefits of warm showers stem from the fact that they help your body cool down faster and lower its core temperature. Our circulatory system has an opposite reaction to heat.
When you expose the skin to warm water, your internal temperature drops to compensate for the external heat, while your core body temperature rises when the body is exposed to cold.
Hence, if you often sleep cold, you should consider removing warm showers from your nighttime routine. Opt instead to bath with water at room temperature or a bit more chilled.
While it is counterintuitive, the colder your bath water, the more cold-resistant you become afterward.
However, you should avoid showering with water that is too cold at night. Cold showers, especially ice-cold ones, activates the neuroendocrine system and triggers our fight-or-flight response.
Other aftereffects of this reaction include elevated cortisol levels (stress hormone), a consequent increase in alertness, reduced sleepiness, and a potential delay in sleep onset.
Regulating Your Body Temperature when Sleeping too Hot
Overheating is a more common problem sleepers face during sleep. Coincidentally, this is also a more crucial issue, as sleeping too hot can significantly impair your sleep.
Your body temperature keys into your circadian rhythm, and cooler temperatures promote better sleep. Hence, in addition to the inconvenience of waking up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat, higher body temperatures can also impact your sleep quality and how rested you feel afterward.
Some steps you can take to avoid running hot during the night include:
Get Your Place Temperature Right
Any hack or tricks you implement to help bring your core body temperature down will be futile if the room is too hot in the first place. Start here.
If you consistently wake up at night from overheating, you should set your thermostat to the recommended 65 degrees, or even a tad bit lower if you can take it. Turn on the air conditioning, throw a window open, whatever you, get your room as cool as you can before sleep for the best results.
Keep some blankets at hand in case the temperature turns out to be too cold the first few times, and you wake up shivering. You can also take the heat up a few notches if the recommended setting always feels unbearable.
Optimize Your Mattress
Next to the temperature of your bedroom, another crucial factor is the temperature regulatory properties of your mattress.
The type of mattress you use can be the difference between comfortable sleep and waking up drenched in sweat.
Older memory foam mattresses are some of the worst offenders in this category. If you have a memory foam mattress that has served you for the past ten years, you may be due for an upgrade.
These old memory foam mattresses are notorious for sleeping hot. The dense foam, combined with its conforming properties, traps warmth around your frame and restricts airflow, which often leads to overheating.
Opt instead for newer foam mattresses like the Purple Mattress, that incorporate the latest advances in technology that help to eliminate the heat-trapping properties of traditional memory foam.
Alternatively, you can opt for replacement options that feature other materials like coils and latex and pack proprietary cooling systems to ensure the best possible experience.
Is a new mattress looking like an excessive cash commitment right now? You can optimize your existing bed by adding a temperature-regulating topper. Wool toppers and gel-infused memory foam toppers offer some of the best options.
You can also try some Bed Cooling Systems , if money is NOT your first concern.
Choose Breathable Beddings
Despite your other efforts to keep your body temperature down, if you pick the wrong bedding, you will have to deal with nighttime sweats.
The wrong sheets and blankets cannot effectively conduct heat and wick moisture from the body. Less-breathable materials like polyester and lycra can trap in body heat, creating or exacerbating existing overheating problems.
A good rule of thumb is to opt for natural fibers like linen, cotton, or wool. Natural fibers tend to provide more moisture-wicking properties and are often less likely to trap in heat.
Take Warm Baths Before Bed
Taking warm baths can help you cool down and put you in a relaxed state, ready for heat-free sleep.
The systems responsible for cooling and warming up the body respond to external stimuli by creating the opposite effect on the inside to balance things. This is why we sweat to cool the body down in hot environments, and warm showers make the body cool down rapidly.
You can use this natural system to your advantage, increasing your chance of falling asleep quicker, sleeping better, and staying cool through the night.
Don’t Workout Before Bed
While working out during the day can significantly improve your sleep quality at night, vigorous exercise just before bed can have the opposite effect.
Exercise can increase alertness and elevate the body’s core temperature—two occurrences that can make it significantly harder for you to fall asleep and stay cool during sleep.
Also Read: Pros and Cons of Exercising Before Bed