Many people would keep their air-conditioning unit running throughout the night while others would take a cold bath before going to bed. Why does the body find trouble getting a good night’s sleep in a warm environment? What is the science behind sleeping in a cold room?
Before going through the benefits of sleeping in a cold room, one compelling question needs to be answered: why do we need sufficient sleep? The Harvard Medical School warns against the short- and long-term impact of lack of sleep.
“In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.”
People require different sleep durations based on their unique physiological needs. Some people need at least eight hours of uninterrupted zzz’s while others already feel energized after six hours of sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation provides a general recommendation for appropriate sleep ranges across age groups. Teenagers, aged 14 to 17, should get eight to 10 hours of sleep each night; adults (18-64) must sleep for seven to nine hours; and older adults (65 and above) are advised a sleep from seven to eight hours.
What stops you from getting quality sleep?
Your sleep problems can be due to a number of symptoms. You may have an underlying medical condition that causes your insomnia or sleeplessness. People who have unhealthy lifestyles, such as consuming too much calories and/or caffeinated products, may have trouble dozing off.
Your sleeping environment also has a role. Your mattress may be giving you muscle pain or the clutter in your bedroom may be causing stress. There’s also the case of room temperatures. A poorly ventilated and humid room may be keeping you up all night.
Why sleep in a cool bedroom?
No one is truly free from the risk of sleep disorders. A healthy adult can still suffer from short-term insomnia, or trouble sleeping for a few days, because of stress or an uncomfortable sleeping environment.
For optimal sleep, specialists recommend a room temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. During the onset of sleep, you become disengaged from your surroundings and your body temperature drops.
Sleeping in a cool environment helps facilitate sleep at this stage. Turning the thermostat below 54 degrees or above 75 degrees can cause sleep disruptions.
“About one to one and a half hours before falling asleep, the body starts to lose heat from its central core and that brings increased feelings of tiredness in normal healthy adults.
These physiological changes happen well before going to bed and may be occurring before people realise them,” according to Dr. Cameron Van den Heuvel of the University of South Australia.
Sleeping cool vs. insomnia
One of the benefits of sleeping in a cool place is preventing certain types of insomnia. People with sleep onset insomnia have consistently warmer core body temperature immediately before falling asleep compared to their healthier peers.
Thus, this group of insomniacs need to wait for two to four hours before their bodies to cool down and initiate sleep. “To drop the core temperature, the body needs to act like a radiator, with heat from the central core transferring to areas such as the hands, face and feet, causing the peripheral skin temperature to rise and then lose heat to the surrounding environment,” Dr. Van den Heuvel shares.
Taking sleeping pills has been found beneficial to some insomniacs, but others find it of little help because of their abnormal thermoregulatory systems. A simple and healthy solution: sleeping in a cool bedroom to help the body lose the heat that is keeping it awake.
Boost your metabolism in a cool room
A recent study suggests that sleeping in a cool room, at about 66 degrees, increases the body’s production of brown fat that burns calories. Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University observed the impact of room temperature on the sleeping habits of five healthy men with an average age of 21.
The thermostat was set at 75 degrees on the first month, 66 degrees on the second month, 75 degrees again on the third month, and 81 degrees on the fourth month.
The men had a 42-percent increase in brown fat volume and a 10-percent rise in fat metabolic activity when exposed to mild cold. They also manifested improvements in their insulin sensitivity, which is essential in glucose metabolism.
The findings suggest that sleeping in a cool room can help boost metabolism and prevent diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
You can skip the costly trips to a dermatologist. Sleeping in a cold bedroom can help release anti-aging hormones. The hormone melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that combats inflammation, protects against cognitive decline and cancers, and strengthens the immune system.
It reduces oxidative stress and neurodegeneration, indicating is anti-aging benefits. Sufficient sleep is the key in improving your body’s production of melatonin. Creating a conducive sleeping environment including lowering the room temperature can help.
Sleep deprivation, unfortunately, is becoming a norm in our fast-paced society. People are in constant need of being connected that getting at least seven hours of sleep each night is often neglected.
There’s also the mantra of “work hard, party harder,” which is turning us into a sleep-deprived population with “so much to do with so little time.” Quality sleep should not be regarded as a luxury but as a necessity like proper nutrition and regular exercise.
The hazards of insufficient sleep can put your health and safety at risk. Make changes in your sleeping habits. Start by creating a bedroom conducive to optimal sleep.