High temperature can disturb sleep. Under ideal conditions, body temperature starts to drop a few degrees about one to two hours before bed — and continues to drop during sleep, according to Leslie Swanson, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory.
This internal cooling effect helps us reach the deep, restorative stage of sleep known as slow-wave sleep.
But “when the ambient temperature outside is high, it prevents our body temperature from rapidly dropping,” Swanson said. Not only does this make falling asleep more difficult, it can also cause you to wake up more often during the night.
While it can be difficult to fall asleep when you and your bedroom are hot, there are things you can do to sleep more soundly.
Do your best to cool the room
“We tend to sleep more soundly in a cool room,” said Philip Gehrman, a clinical psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania Sleep Center. He even noted that “some people, when summer comes around and they turn on the air conditioner, they sleep better because they keep the room cooler than they did in spring or autumn.”
Keep the room ventilated
If you don’t have air conditioning, use a fan to help circulate the air in the room. Increasing airflow across the body’s surface area helps to offload heat, said Justin Fiala, an expert in pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at Northwestern Medicine.
If you are unable to lower the temperature in the room, your body will resort to another method to cool itself down, namely, sweating. Keep some water beside your bed to ensure you replenish the fluid you are losing.
Use light bedding
The best way to help your body regulate its temperature is to use a light sheet or summer comforter, Fiala said. Make sure you can move easily under it, such as sticking one leg out if you need to cool down.
Avoid taking a cold shower before bed
Cold water will help your body cool down, but it’s unlikely to help with quality sleep. Cold water can be a shock to the body, which can keep you awake longer.
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