When sleep is elusive, you'll pretty much do ANYTHING to get a restful night of z's. You might have some tea to calm yourself, try some meditation or breathing exercises, stay off your phone, or even try some sleeping aids or supplements.
"Always refer to sleep as a puzzle to try and get the best sleep," says Rajkumar Dasgupta, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "And your puzzle pieces can be light, sound, temperature, and comfort."
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine maintains that the best temperature for sleep is "cool." And the National Sleep Foundation gives a range of 60º to 67ºF. It ultimately depends on the person, so what is "cool" for you might mean something different to someone else.
"Sleep is always very individualized, but we always speak in broad strokes," Dasgupta says. "And in broad strokes, one of my personal mottos is that when you lie down, the body cools down, and when you get up, the body warms up. That's how I teach it to my sleep fellows. I teach it this way because any time I mentioned the word circadian rhythm, we frequently attach circadian rhythm to our need for sleep—but what also is attached to your circadian rhythm is body temperature. So what happens is that as nighttime approaches, we get to our lowest body temperature at night, which we call our core temperature nadir."
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So how can you maintain an optimal temperature in your bedroom so you can sleep better? Dasgupta gave us some pointers, but he wants us to keep one thing in mind.
"No matter what you do to the temperature, you still have to abide by the rules of sleep hygiene," he explains. "A set bedtime, set wake time. Doing exercise, watching your diet, all the things that are adding to good sleep hygiene."
And if you are trying everything and nothing is working, you might have insomnia, which is best treated by a sleep doctor.
Sharing a bed with someone can get tricky. They might run hot and you might run cold, or vice versa. Like any relationship, though, it's all about compromise. Discuss sleep needs with your partner and try to find solutions that can work. One person might need an extra layer of a blanket just for them. The other might require sheets that are cooling.
Dasgupta recalled an interview he did about sleeping naked. "I loved it—the whole thought about that is you might want to control your body temperature as easily and I guess as cheaply as possible. Because you know that when you actually control it from your air conditioner, that's a lot of money. You're cooling down your entire house to find that. Maybe the idea is not just cool down the entire house, but maybe just your room, maybe just your bed. Maybe the problem is just finding the most comfortable thing to sleep in."
You might consider sleeping naked, or you might opt for some lightweight, breezy pajamas.
This can work if you sleep alone or with a partner. You might find you need more blankets when you first go to bed and they're tossed away by the morning. Or if you run cold, you might need more pajama layers. The same can be said if you sleep with a partner—someone might need an extra blanket or a long-sleeved sleep tee.
Okay, you might not be able to do this all the time, but Dasgupta cites a Scandinavian study that found that babies who slept outside got better sleep. While it might not be advisable to get the whole family sleeping outside, this could be translated to opening up your windows or bedroom doors if it's feeling stuffy.
If you are using your cooling and heating system to control the temperature in your home, it might be wise to invest in a smart thermostat. These have been proven to work smarter and more efficiently and save you some bucks.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.