Now that we’re in the colder months, there is nothing better than feeling cozy and warm at home. After all, we’ve just escaped the cold to get back inside, and it seems normal to jack up the thermostat and get every room nice and toasty. However, this simple action is doing both harm to your health and to the planet.
Realistically, how many times could you have warmed yourself up with just a jumper or an extra blanket, rather than by increasing the temperature in your house? We’ve all been there, but now medical experts have noted the link between global warming and the increase in health issues, so something needs to change.
How warm temperatures affect the body
Our bodies do a great job at regulating their temperature but our decision to warm up the room is actually doing the opposite of helping. As we continue to use more fossil fuel-derived energy, we let our planet get hotter, consequently contributing to chronic inflammation to our bodies, raising temperatures and stopping the body from cooling down as it should. This just goes to show how much our health is connected to the health of our planet.
There is especially one area of our lives in which this change has significantly affected us: our sleep.
Is there a ‘perfect temperature’?
Sleep experts have for long studied what makes us sleep better, or worse, and have come to the conclusion that ultimately, sleeping in a cooler temperature is better for us. This might seem counterproductive when we’re dealing with cold weather all day long, but again, our body knows what it’s doing. Our body’s temperature cycle gets intentionally colder nearer your bedtime as the cold helps you feel sleepy and relaxes you, while it starts warming up around the time you wake up to make you feel energized and ready to tackle the day. This is because it mirrors our circadian relationship with the sun, that’s how natural sleeping in the cold actually is to our body!
By getting in the way of our natural flow, we end up waking up frequently in the night, often sweating and uncomfortable, because our body is trying to release the excess heat. So what do the experts say? They recommend keeping your bedroom’s temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius). That’s just 5 to 6 degrees lower than your body’s internal temperature, and you can always lower it further if you’re happy to just get another blanket for the night.
Our body’s natural cycle
If you’re used to sleeping in a really warm room, you might feel like the idea of turning that bedroom cooler would just cause you to feel really cold. But good news, your body will naturally get used to sleeping in a cooler environment, it’s what it’s designed to do!
The 24 hour biological clock in our brain, called the ‘suprachiasmatic nucleus’, already does a great job at keeping us in check. It’s what tells our bodies to wake up or to go to sleep, and it’s heavily influenced by what we eat, our social interactions, exercise, and the external temperature. By keeping our internal temperature cool, we’re just doing exactly what mother nature expects us to do for the best of our health.
Plus, this simple change in your life is a significant step forward in the fight against global warming, as the overuse of fossil fuel-derived energy lets our planet get increasingly hot.
In the colder months, the best thing you can do for your health and to be sustainable is to give your thermostat a break and learn how to sleep in a natural way, while saving the planet.