A woman with pink hair and an eye mask sleeping soundly in bed at the best temperature for sleep.

© Katarina Radovic / Stocksy United

Keeping Your Room at This Temperature Is the Easy Way to Level up Your Sleep

The thermostat reading matters when it comes to getting quality Zzzs.

By Jessie Van AmburgNovember 10, 2023


I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call myself the Goldilocks of sleep. In order for me to drift off, and actually stay asleep, the conditions have to be just right. My room has to be silent and totally dark, pillows propped up just so, stress levels calmed sufficiently…and I have to be cozy and warm, but not so warm that I can’t have a blanket. 

While some of the above are just my personal idiosyncrasies, I’m not the only one who needs to find the best temperature for sleep in order to properly drift off—one that’s not too hot and not too cold. As it turns out, the ideal temperature for snoozing is an essential component of your sleep health. We chatted with experts to find out why, plus how to maintain your room’s climate for an optimal night of Zzzs.

Why Temperature Matters for Sleep

“Temperature plays a significant role in sleep quality, sleep patterns, sleep stages, and body temperature regulation,” says Shelby Harris, PsyD, a licensed psychologist who is board-certified in behavioral sleep medicine and the director of sleep health at Sleepopolis

Most importantly, temperature is a key part of your circadian rhythm, aka your body’s “internal clock” that governs things like your sleep-wake cycles. Your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, Harris explains—it naturally falls before bed and throughout the night, then starts to rise in the morning. 

Your body’s changing temperature isn’t coincidental—it helps regulate your sleep and wake schedules. The evening dip in body temperature, along with other signals (like darkness once the sun has set), triggers the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps your body know it’s time to snooze, says Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep medicine.

While it’s normal for your body’s temperature to change a little bit over the course of a day, other factors can also impact it, such as exercise, illness, and the temperature in your environment—or inside your bedroom. And the latter has big implications for sleep, Harris says. “If your [body] temperature is too warm, it can disrupt sleep stages and lead to more frequent sleep disruptions, negatively affecting your overall sleep quality,” she says.

What’s the Ideal Sleeping Temperature?

“The optimal temperature range for a great night of sleep for most adults is anywhere between 60–69 degrees Fahrenheit,” Harris says. She notes that most people tend to prefer 67 degrees Fahrenheit for sleeping, “as it supports natural thermoregulation, comfort, and reduces night sweats,” she explains. The National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations are similar, recommending somewhere between 60–67 degrees. 

That said, there’s quite a bit of varying research on the matter, and you might get a different answer depending on who you ask. Breus acknowledges that although there is a range of “ideal” sleep temperatures—which, in his view, can go up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit—it’s important to do what works for you as an individual. Some like it warmer than others, and that’s OK. “It’s all about finding your correct temperature,” he says, whether that’s adding more covers to your side of the bed, turning down the thermostat a notch, or taking an evening bath before hitting the hay. 

Does the Optimal Sleeping Temperature Change with Age? 

Generally, sleep temperature needs tend to be pretty consistent throughout life until you hit age 65. A new study published in Science of the Total Environment found that older adults might actually sleep better in slightly warmer temperatures of 68–77 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There are a few potential reasons why. “As we age, we have less fat on our bodies to insulate us and keep us warm,” Breus says. Harris also explains that your body’s thermoregulation skills—basically, its ability to manage temperature—change with age. Older adults tend to be more vulnerable to the effects of over- or under-heating. Thus, people might need it to be a little warmer in order to feel comfortable sleeping.  

Sleep temperature is also important to think about with infants, due to the increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) associated with overheating. While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t have specific sleep temperature recommendations for babies, the organization recommends making sure that the room feels comfortable for you and that your child isn’t showing signs of overheating like sweating, flushed skin, or a hot chest. There is some evidence that sleeping with a fan on might help reduce the risk of SIDS (although not enough for the AAP to explicitly recommend it), so if that helps make your baby’s room more comfortable, it can’t hurt to switch one on.

How Does Sleep Temperature Affect Exercise?

Sleep temperature has some interesting implications for exercise. “Sleeping in a colder room can increase your sleep quality and quantity, which can better prepare your body for exercise the next day,” Harris says. Indeed, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that exposure to cold while sleeping (with typical bedding and clothing) doesn’t negatively impact your sleep stages, while heat exposure makes you more likely to wake up in the night and decreases how much truly restful sleep you get.

On the flip side, exercising too close to bedtime raises your core body temperature, which might make it harder to sleep properly, Harris says. That’s why Breus typically recommends people finish up more strenuous workouts within two to three hours of bedtime. (Restorative yoga is another story, but maybe save a HIIT workout for the morning.)

A man sleeping soundly in bed at the best temperature for sleep.

skaman306 / Moment via Getty Images

What Happens if Your Bedroom Is Too Warm or Too Cold? 

In short, when your room is too hot or too chilly, you just don’t sleep as well. “Sleeping in a room that is too cold or too warm can disrupt your sleep quality and quantity by leading to frequent nighttime awakenings, night sweats, discomfort, and difficulty falling asleep,” Harris says. 

Disrupted sleep is particularly a problem when it’s too hot. One small 2019 study tracked how people slept during the summer and observed that overall, participants found it difficult to fall asleep, didn’t snooze as well, and even had reduced appetites when it was hot (particularly when temperatures were in the 90s and over). 

Part of this is because when the ambient temperature outside is warm, it’s harder for your body temperature to decrease in order to make sleep happen. There are also the obvious consequences of sleeping when it’s too warm, like getting overheated and sweating, which could make you wake up or toss and turn.

On the flip side, going to sleep in a room that’s too cold—under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, says Breus—may have consequences as well. "When bedroom temperature is too cold, it can worsen sleep quality and make it harder to fall asleep," Harris says. 

Tips for Maintaining an Optimal Sleeping Temperature

Want to maintain the best temperature for sleep as possible, but aren’t sure where to begin? Here are a few tips to help send you into dreamland:

1. Control Your Room Temperature 

The ideal way to regulate the sleep temperature in your room, of course, is to set the number you want on a thermostat or air conditioning unit. But if you have limited control over your bedroom temperature (say your landlord sets the heat, or you don’t have AC), Harris recommends setting up fans to stay comfortable and keep the air moving.

2. Prioritize the Right Bedding 

Harris says appropriate bedding is key to managing a comfortable sleep temperature. If you tend to overheat at night, or if you’re prepping for sleeping during the summer, make sure to get sheets and bedding made out of lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton, bamboo, or linen. In the winter, add blanket layers or switch up the fabrics (maybe flannel instead of linen if it’s really cold in your room).

3. Invest in a Cooling Bed Topper 

If you’re a hot sleeper, Breus recommends checking out cooling technologies like bed toppers that can help you better regulate your temperature. He says these can be especially beneficial for those going through menopause who often deal with night sweats and hot flashes that impact their ability to sleep. Some bed toppers use heat-absorbing elements like graphite or gel to keep you cool, while others employ sweat-wicking materials and designs—but ultimately, the best option for you will largely depend on your personal preferences and sleep behaviors.

4. Rethink Your PJs

What you wear to bed also plays a role in your sleep temperature. Bundling up might make you overheat, while too skimpy of a layer can make things too chilly. “Choose loose-fitting, breathable clothing to help you stay comfortable and regulate your temperature throughout the night,” Harris recommends. Think: a cotton T-shirt and loose shorts or pants. 

5. Try a Warm Bath Before Bed

Breus says some of his patients report sleeping better if they take a warm shower or bath before bed. There’s some research to back this up: A 2019 review and meta-analysis found that taking a warm bath or shower one to two hours before bed helped improve sleep quality and sleep efficiency. Another study of older adults (average age of 72) found that people who bathed before bedtime fell asleep faster than people who didn’t. 

Why does this work? Basically, hot water helps activate your body’s temperature regulation system, forcing it to remove excess body heat to help you cool down. Timing a hot bath with your body’s natural cool-down process for sleeping may help you drift off more easily—and stay asleep, according to researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.

The Takeaway

Generally, keeping your bedroom cooler is a great way to support a better night’s rest (and thus, better prepare your body for tomorrow’s workout). For most people, the best temperature for sleep falls between 60–68 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, if you prefer a warmer sleeping environment, it’s totally OK to follow your personal preferences. Controlling your room temperature as best as possible, investing in the right bedding, and making purposeful pajama choices can help you maintain an ideal sleeping temperature, too.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.


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