Sleep Better in a Warmer Room

If the drastically cooler evenings this month haven’t led you to change over your summer bedding to something warmer, a new study may encourage older adults to add some heavier layers or kick up the thermostat a few degrees for better sleep.  

According to a recent CBS News report, a new study from Harvard and the Marcus Institute for Aging Research found that sleep was in the ideal range when bedroom temperatures were between 70 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bedroom temperatures between 68 and 77 (20 and 25°C) were found to be most efficient and restful for study participants aged 65 and older. 

The study found that sleep quality dropped if the ambient room temperature was higher or lower than the ideal or most restful levels.  However, between individuals, the optimal temperature can vary significantly, as any couple sleeping together will likely already know. Hot sleepers may want to keep a fan nearby, even in the winter months, as well as an insulated bottle for cold water in case of any heat waves that come on suddenly.

Study participants’ sleep data was tracked using wearable sleep monitors and with environmental sensors to record ambient temperatures.  Sleep duration, efficiency, and restlessness were recorded to determine optimal room temperatures for good-quality sleep.  Study authors warn that climate change may have the potential to impact sleep quality among older adults, especially seniors with lower socioeconomic status. 

Although it is generally true that the bedroom should be kept quiet, dark, and cool for optimal restful sleep, being too cool at night can also interfere with a good night’s sleep.  According to Geriatric Medicine, chronic poor sleep can affect cognitive function, may increase the risk for dementia, and can influence cardiometabolic health.  Seniors may also have an increased fall risk due to sleep problems or suffer from a mood disorder.