The Hot vs. Cold Debate: Finding Your Ideal Sleep Temperature

The Hot Cold Debate Kate Moss

Written by Emily Barasch

            Is feeling a touch chilly more conducive to good sleep than a tad warm?—this is an age-old question debated by sleep experts to temperature-preference-differing couples to medical researchers interested in weight loss. And the answer: It’s not so simple.

            Common wisdom has it that being slightly cold is preferable. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, for one, recommends envisioning your bedroom as a cave: silent, lights off, and cold. Research has further shown that a dip in your body’s core temperature triggers a sleep ready message.

Those with chronic difficulty falling asleep are said to have higher-than-normal activity in their frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for planning, organizing, and logical reasoning, which causes the head to remain heated. So it’s no surprise many insomniacs have even discovered the virtues of wearing a cooling cap to bed.

And with recent studies have shown that sleeping in the cold—around 66 degrees—can have calorie-burning and metabolism-boosting effects, it seems pretty obvious to turn those thermostats down. Yet if it’s too cold, it can have a real impact on staying asleep, a problem often just as bothersome as not being able to falling asleep. Otherwise put, if you’re shivering while asleep, your rest won’t exactly be fitful or long.

Professor of biology at Stanford University, H. Craig Heller takes an approach so obvious, it almost sounds novel: Set a temperature that works tailor-made to your comfort level. He believes being as comfortable as possible positively impacts the quality of REM sleep—our deepest, dreamiest sleep.

The bottom line: Keep your head a little cool and your body a little warmer—might we suggest some pajamas to help?