The impact of temperature on sleep and strategies for regulating bedroom temperature.

As humans, our bodies have evolved to associate light with daytime and darkness with nighttime. Similarly, our bodies have learned to associate warmth with daytime and coolness with nighttime. This association has an impact on our ability to fall asleep and get quality sleep. When we initiate sleep, various sleep chemicals reduce our body temperature, which in turn, helps us fall asleep more quickly.

However, we often unintentionally interfere with this natural process. For instance, we take hot showers before bed, layer up with blankets, and heat our homes to be much warmer than what we would experience in a natural environment. All these actions can be a major obstacle to quality sleep.

Optimal sleep temperature

Research suggests that we achieve the highest quality sleep in a 16- to 20-degree Celsius environment. This temperature range is lower than what many people are accustomed to, especially during winter or in places with hot climates. Fortunately, there are ways to create an optimal sleep environment.

One way to facilitate an optimal sleep environment is to regulate the temperature of your bedroom. You may find air-conditioning or natural air flow beneficial to achieve this. Additionally, investing in breathable bedding, such as cotton sheets and blankets, can also aid in temperature regulation.

Cold shower technique

Another way to facilitate a drop in body temperature before bed is to take a cool shower in the evening. You can gradually reduce the water temperature over the course of a few nights until you can tolerate a completely cold shower. A completely cold shower has the additional benefit of stimulating the vagal nerve. The vagal nerve is the largest nerve in your body and is involved in the body's innate "relaxation response."