Set Your Thermostat to This for Best Sleep

A study finds that older adults had the best sleep in 70 to 74-degree bedrooms
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2023 8:30 AM CDT
Best Temperature for Sleep? Try 70 to 74 Degrees
Study reveals the optimal temperatures for good sleep among seniors.   (Getty / IPGGutenbergUKLtd)

Bedrooms that are too hot or too cold disrupt sleep, a new study has found, and now we know what temperature is considered "just right." According to the Washington Post, new research revealed that seniors experienced optimal sleep when temperatures fell within 70 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit. The study, led by Amir Baniassadi at Harvard Medical School and the Marcus Institute for Aging Research, tracked 50 participants ages 65 and up in the Boston area over 12 months. "We selected older adults because they typically experience poor sleep more than younger populations," Baniassadi said. "Their physiology is more sensitive to temperature changes, and they suffer the most in heat waves."

The researchers installed sensors in the participants' bedrooms to track nightly temperatures and provided them with special finger rings to monitor sleep patterns. Restful sleep dropped as indoor temperatures exceeded 77 degrees or fell below 68 degrees, and there was a notable 5 to 10% reduction in sleep efficiency when indoor temperatures rose from 77 to 86 degrees. Higher temperatures disrupt the body's natural cooling process, making it harder to fall asleep. The researchers noted how this can impact our health on a warming planet. "The study underscores the potential impact of climate change on sleep quality in older adults," Baniassadi said, per Science Focus, "particularly those with lower socioeconomic status, and supports increasing their adaptive capacity as nighttime temperatures increase in cities across the country."

While similar studies often occurred in controlled lab settings, this study aimed to replicate real-life conditions, with participants in their own homes. The trade-off was the study's small sample size, which limits how broadly the findings can be applied. Nevertheless, the Post reports that the link between poor sleep and temperature is crucial because it can contribute to health issues like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression, accidents, and decreased work performance. Per the Sleep Foundation, a few ways to avoid overheating at night include switching up bedding, ventilating rooms, sleeping in a downstairs room during hot months, and taking a bath before bed. (Need to catch more Zzzs during winter months? There's a likely reason for that.)

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