Cool Temperature Room MAKES You Sleep Better
As great as technology is, it has bombarded us with endless opinions, ‘facts’, and options when it comes to addressing our sleep. I’ll admit to being guilty of this myself, reading the ‘5 best ways to …’ or ‘3 home items that are killing you!’. These headlines grab our attention and suck us into the Clickbate wars.
But with all this information out there, how do we decipher fact from fiction, and make a true plan to help improve our sleep.
Here’s what I’ve spent the past 12 hours doing for you….
I’ve read through close to 50 online articles, Facebook posts, Instagram stories, Pinterest posts and distilled the common themes that are being shared.
I then jumped on Pubmed and combed through HUNDREDS of articles to figure out what is real, what’s BS, and what general patterns you should be doing to help you get a better night’s sleep.
Here’s my takeaway: Cool Temperature Room MAKES You Sleep Better
You’ll Fall Asleep Faster
You may have heard that our body temperature drops 1-2 degrees while we sleep. This drop in temperature helps facilitate us getting to sleep.1 Secondly, new research demonstrates that temperature manipulation, meaning a cooler ambient temperature, moves us into REM sleep when the ‘thermoregulatory defense is minimized’2. Fancy talk for when the room is already chilly, the body can get to sleep and into REM easier.
Also, sleepwear matters. According to Shin et al. Sleepwear played a contributory role to sleep outcomes and participants slept better at 17°C than at 22°C. Here in the states that’s 62.6*F, and they suggest wool over cotton to help get to sleep faster.3
You’ll Lose Weight
You heard me right! This study took its participants and had them live in a controlled environment for 4 months. Each month the temperature during sleep was altered. After a month of exposure to mild cold, the participants had a 42% increase in brown fat volume and a 10% increase in fat metabolic activity. These alterations returned to near baseline during the following month of neutral temperature, and then were completely reversed during the final month of warm exposure. All the changes occurred independently of seasonal changes.4
Holy cow! What this means is that the body begins to burn fat while in a cooler room, AND it helps better regulate sugar metabolism. On the flip side, when exposed to a warmer room the exact opposite happened.
You’ll Look and Feel Younger
When we sleep in a cooler room, our body releases MORE melatonin. Melatonin plays a critical role in sleep, obviously, but it also acts as a powerful antioxidant. Melatonin is hugely effective in reducing oxidative stress in a number of ways. Direct detoxification of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and indirectly stimulating antioxidant enzymes while suppressing the activity of pro-oxidant enzymes.5 That got really heady, I know. Basically high levels of melatonin clean up damage done to the body through the day, AND it triggers other other antioxidants to get to work. If that wasn’t enough, it doesn’t allow other damaging agents from turning on. I mean, that’s a lot for one little hormone to do.6
The best ways to increase melatonin are to sleep in a DARK ROOM. Meaning zero, or as close to it, light. No TVs, street lights, WIFI routers, etc. A sleep mask is a GREAT option here. Secondly, a warm environment will increase melatonin BUT decrease where it attaches in the body. But a cool environment enhances those receptors.
So, a cool and dark room is going to increase your melatonin levels AND their receptors in the body.7
You’ll Get a Better Night Sleep
Research shows that our circadian clock is temperature dependent.8 When we can maintain our sleep environment around 62*, our bodies will get into a natural rhythm of sleepiness. The best pattern I’ve come across through this research is to keep your bedroom around 62*, but the other parts of the home at a more comfortable temperature, 68-72*. Move into the bedroom ~60 minutes prior to bedtime with minimal light. As bedtime rolls around, put on a sleep mask or turn off all lights. This pattern, over time, will improve melatonin levels, and normalize your internal sleep clock.
And like was mentioned above, having a cooler room leaves less work for the body to do. It doesn’t have to expend extra effort to lower your body temperature and maintain it. Less work equals more energy.
Bad News For Sleep Apnea
Untreated patients with obstructive sleep apnea sleep longer, have better sleep efficiency, and are more alert in the morning after a night’s sleep at 16°C room temperature compared with 24°C, but obstructive sleep apnea is more severe at 16°C and 20°C compared with 24°C.9 So, although sleeping at a lower temperature improves the quality of sleep for snorers / sleep apnea, it will actually make their apnea worse.
To conclude, it can be hard to decipher truth from fact when searching online for help. The Society is here to do that leg work for you, so you can get the information you need to make smart choices relative to your health.
Dr. Rich Baez, D.C., B.S.