Is it really better to sleep in a colder room?

An expert has issued a warning about sleeping in warm rooms, saying it can be detrimental to health.

Since it’s World Sleep Day, we thought we would dive into the problem.

Although bills will soar if the heating stays on through the night, the real problem with sleeping in warmer rooms is related to our bodies.

Doctor Elizabeth Hawkes told Woman and Home: "If you're indoors, central heating can be extremely drying to the eyes because heating in the air evaporates the water in it, creating a dry atmosphere.

"It plays an important role in regulating melatonin and cortisol. Temperature can disrupt melatonin and cortisol production by affecting the body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm."

So is it really better to sleep in a cold room?

A study published in the National Library of Medicine has shown that sleeping in a cooler room with cooler bedding and sleepwear benefits health, mood and ageing. According to the organisation Sleep Advisor, there are multiple benefits to keeping the temperature low. Here are some of them.


Cooler rooms encourage the body to produce melatonin, which is a powerful anti-ageing hormone. Increased melatonin production can lead to:

  • regular menstrual cycles;

  • enhanced moods;

  • weight loss;

  • cancer-fighting properties;

  • improved brain health.

Better quality sleep

Studies have shown that when an environment is created for the body to drop its core temperature throughout the night, people sweat less and the body spends more time in the two most important restorative sleep phases:

  • REM: Rapid eye movement (the stage of sleep where most dreams happen);

  • slow-wave deep sleep, also known as deep sleep, which lasts between 70 and 90 minutes and happens through the first hours of going to bed.

According to Dr Maja Schaedel, co-founder of The Good Sleep Clinic: “We know that in order to fall asleep and stay asleep, we need our core body temperature to drop by one or two degrees.

“Lowering the room temperature from 24C to 18C has a significant impact on sleep quality, making it much better during cooler climates.”

Reduced stress

Good quality sleep reduces stress and cooler temperatures reduce production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Chronic stress can lead to long-term health complications such as depression, stomach problems, muscle tension, weight gain and memory and concentration difficulties.

Enhanced mood

There are a couple of ways sleeping in cold rooms can enhance a person's mood. It seems obvious but improved sleep quality because of the cooler temperature can make individuals feel rested and calm. The other reason is to do with the link between melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin is a mood enhancer, and is a constituent of melatonin. A sufficient amount of both hormones in the brain will again lead to better rest and overall mood.

Decreased risk of disease

Whilst cooler temperature has often widely been recognised as increasing the risk of respiratory conditions including asthma or even heart disease, the theory has long been debunked by health experts and usually only occurs when the temperature is too low.

Sleeping in colder rooms can actually mitigate the risk of diseases due to the the increase of insulin sensitivity. An increase lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes as glucose is transported from the blood stream into the muscle tissue, leading to overall improved tissue health.

The increased melatonin production could also have a positive influence on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. However, experts recommend against melatonin for elderly people already living with dementia due to higher risk of falls and other accidents.

Moreover, insomnia, which is a result of organ disease can be prevented along with metabolic diseases including obesity.