Research shows that room temperature plays a huge part in how well we sleep. If the room in which you sleep is too hot or too cold, it can greatly affect how well you rest. Ideally, articles on your HVAC system maintain that your sleeping quarters should be at 65°F, but this can vary among individuals who may sleep better at higher or lower temperatures. Preferences for lighter or heavier covers can also be a factor.
Adjusting the settings on your heating and cooling system for optimal sleep is most important during months of extreme heat or cold when you may rely heavily on your HVAC system to keep your home and specifically, the area where you sleep, at a comfortable temperature.
Despite the suggested ideal temperature, some individuals may prefer slight differences in this. Studies show that the majority of people will still prefer a temperature that falls between 60°F and 67°F.
How to determine the best setting to get proper sleep?
Whether you prefer your sleep temperature a bit higher or cooler can depend on your core body temperature and the time of day when you usually sleep. While most people tend to sleep at night, those who work swing shifts, second shifts, or third shifts may have different needs. Your circadian rhythms control body processes that affect your preferences and decrease your body temperature slightly before your bedtime or at night.
This decrease in body temperature is a sign that your body is ready to sleep. If a room feels too warm or too cool, it can interfere with this natural signaling and make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest. When your circadian rhythm is out of sync with your sleep schedule, what many people refer to as “getting my days mixed up with my nights,” sleep can be disrupted. You may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Ensuring you have the right air filter
Another factor in how your HVAC system can affect your sleep patterns is found in its operation. A poorly cleaned duct system or infrequently changed filters can affect the air quality and create breathing irregularities that affect sleep. Filters should be changed quarterly or sometimes more often during heavy use. Ducts should be cleaned twice a year, before turning on your AC in the summer, or your heating in the winter is ideal.
Though standard HVAC filters do not provide air purification, they do keep dust particles and debris from filtering back out into the air you breathe. If you have concerns such as allergies or other breathing-related ailments, additional purification components can be added to your system to filter out more of the bacteria, pollen, or microbes that may be missed by a regular filter.
If you do not have an air purifying system installed on your HVAC system, you can also use a portable air purifier to work in conjunction with your AC unit. This is a solid option for those who may live in spaces where they don’t own the home but require cleaner air due to health issues like asthma, COPD, allergies, or other respiratory problems.
The temperature regulation afforded by your HVAC unit also prevents heat-related health issues such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat strokes.
A room that is overly warm or chilly can be enough to cause poor sleep for anyone. The discomfort your body feels can cause you to be restless, have trouble falling asleep or be responsible for you waking up repeatedly during the night. In fact, a room that is too hot is a bigger problem than a cold room for the simple reason that you can put on extra blankets in a cool room but a hot room is more difficult to endure.
High temperatures in the room where you sleep cause restlessness and sweating that can result in dehydration. Just as with a cold room, you can have more trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up tired. Additionally, you may find that your appetite is reduced and your heart rate is increased. Over time, this can lead to chronic exhaustion from sleep deficiencies.
In addition to adjusting your HVAC settings to a temperature that is best for your body’s natural cycles and your personal preferences, here are some additional tips to help you get a good night’s rest.
- Follow a regular sleep routine as much as possible
- Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Reduce any noise that prevents sleep with a noise machine or earplugs
- Block out the light with an eye mask or cover windows that allow in too much light
- Maintain a clean, comfortable bed that is conducive to your best sleep
- Invest in a quality mattress, pillows, and bedding
- Sleep in the nude or wear pajamas that facilitate movement and comfort
- Enjoy a warm bath or shower within two hours before bedtime to help yourself relax
- Don’t indulge in heavy meals too close to bedtime
- Meditate, do stretching exercises, or perform deep breathing exercises before bedtime
- Drink herbal teas, warm milk, or other drinks that promote sleep
- Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, alcohol, or high levels of sugar past late afternoon
- Remove electronic devices that might interfere with sleep from bedrooms
- Sleep in darkness as much as possible
- Use blackout curtains to combat daylight or streetlights
Getting a good night’s sleep is important to your health. Long-term sleep deprivation, continually poor sleeping habits, or insufficient quality and quantity of sleep can not only adversely affect your physical well-being but also your cognitive abilities. Employing the tips above, along with setting your AC temperature at the level you find most comfortable for sleeping can greatly improve your sleep patterns and eliminate the results of long-term inadequate sleep.
If you have made all of the adjustments that apply to your situation and still cannot sleep properly, you should consult a physician to assess any problems that might be affecting your ability to get sufficient rest.