Everyone occasionally has the experience of trying to sleep when it is too hot and humid and feeling uncomfortable and restless because of it. We all understand, at least intuitively, that temperature is essential to sleep, but recent scientific research has revealed just how significant it is. It dictates how fast you fall asleep and shapes the overall sleeping experience throughout the night.
How Temperature Affects Sleep
Your body cools down as a natural process of preparing to sleep. This is a process that you can accelerate by taking a warm shower or bath just prior to going to bed, and the ambient temperature plays a role as well. The warmer the room, the longer this cooling-down period takes.
Even after reaching the necessary core temperature for sleeping, the ambient temperature continues to be a factor. One reason for this is that your core temp is not static throughout the night. In fact, it continues to drop by as much as two degrees Fahrenheit before reaching its lowest point in the early morning. If your core temp is suboptimal, it has a negative effect on the various sleep stages. It lessens the time you remain in a stage and, in particular, the crucial REM sleep stage. Too high a temperature also negatively affects the recovery of your immune system and other processes and makes you prone to waking up prematurely.
The Best AC Temperature for Sleep
Core temperature varies from one person to the next, which means that there is no one AC temperature setting that will be ideal for everyone. The National Sleep Foundation recommends an optimal range to promote sleep, which is between 60 degrees and 67 degrees. Be mindful that this recommendation is for adults. For infants, for instance, the general recommendation is between 67 degrees and 69 degrees.
Department of Energy Recommendation
Through its Energy Star savings program, the U.S. Department of Energy created quite the stir online when it recently recommended that Americans set their AC temperature to 78 degrees while awake and 82 degrees while asleep. These temperatures, in its estimation, strike the ideal balance between comfort and energy efficiency. But it is important to note that the focus here is energy savings. The assessment is also based on ideal conditions, such as optimal ceiling fan coverage, and the DOE qualified its statement with the advice that you should get as close to that mark as is comfortable.
Finding Your Ideal Sleep Temperature
Determining your optimal sleep temperature is going to take some trial and error. Begin with the highest temperature you find comfortable. Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist referenced on WebMD, advises going as high as 75° F. You may also want to consider investing in a sleep monitor, which will provide you with a detailed report on how deeply you are sleeping at a particular temperature.
Optimal Relative Humidity
RH is the measure of moisture in the air at a particular temperature. The optimal RH for sleeping is between 30 percent and 50 percent, with most people being comfortable closer to the higher end of that range. An optimal RH will also make you feel more comfortable at a higher ambient temperature.
Other Factors to Consider
Your ideal sleep temperature will change over time. The fat layer under your skin thins with age, so your ideal temperature range at 50 years old, for instance, will likely be narrower than it was at 30. It would help if you also were mindful of the bedding and bedwear you use. If you prefer heavy bedding and pajamas, then your ideal ambient temperature will likely be lower.
Consider installing a ceiling fan in your bedroom. A ceiling fan helps to distribute the cooled air more evenly throughout the room. It would help if you also considered a smart thermostat. While you may need 60 degrees to fall asleep, you can have the thermostat increase the temperature to 70 degrees or higher two hours or so after bedtime. Doing so will not negatively affect your sleep, but it will save you a considerable amount in cooling costs.
Your Local HVAC Experts in Portland
Climate Control, located in Portland, OR has more than 30 years of experience installing, maintaining, and repairing central air conditioning systems, heat pumps, and ductless mini splits. Our company also provides a full range of services for furnaces and other heating equipment, air purifiers, and smart thermostats. Call Climate Control today or contact us online if you’d like to schedule an appointment or have any questions about the products and services we offer.