Temperature’s Effect on Sleep


Do you toss and turn at night, experiencing problems falling asleep? Do you fall asleep rather quickly but then waken a few hours later and have trouble falling asleep again? Do you wake in the morning feeling unrested? Do you constantly experience nightmares?

These are all problems that may be affected by the temperature of the room in which you are trying to sleep.

Temperature's Effect on Sleep

Too hot

When you sleep, your body’s temperature drops. A cooler room encourages falling asleep, according to H. Craig Heller, a professor at Stanford University who has studied sleep. He says a room that is too warm can also affect REM sleep, the body’s dream cycle period.

Studies indicate that REM sleep is important for memory function.

Disruptions in the REM cycle also create a feeling of not being rested upon waking, so dreaming is an important part of a healthy night’s sleep.

Creating temperature drop

You can cause your body’s temperature to fall by lowering the temperature of the room. Taking a warm bath an hour to an hour and a half before retiring can also help since the temperature difference helps the body’s temperature fall faster.

This is the same reason reading or watching television may help you fall asleep; you cease physical activity, so the body slows down and the temperature is reduced.

Too cold

The temperature can be too low for sleeping, however. If the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, it may wake you. You need to find the right temperature for your own body’s ideal comfort.


Dr. Heller points out that what is comfortable for one person may not be the same as another. The range he recommends for sleeping is pretty wide: 65-72 degrees.

The biggest problem in finding the right temperature for sleeping seems to be when people share a room. Some partners sleep in separate bedrooms for this very reason.

You may be able to avoid this extreme solution by having extra blankets available, perhaps even heated blankets for one partner.

Dress appropriately for your own temperature control, and experiment until you find the situation that works best for you.