Sept. 15, 2023 – Older adults sleep best when the room temperature is 70 to 74 degrees, according to a recent study.
For the study, published online in the journal Science of the Total Environment, researchers from 2021 to 2023 studied the sleep habits of 50 people in the Boston area who were 65 and older. Environmental sensors were placed in their bedrooms to track nightly temperatures, and people in the study wore a ring linked to a smartphone to measure how long they slept and how much they tossed and turned. The monitors also tracked respiration, heart rate, and body temperature.
The researchers concluded that sleep was “most efficient and restful” when nighttime ambient temperature ranged from 68 to 77 degrees. There was a 5% to10% drop in sleep efficiency when the temperature increased from 77 to 86 degrees.
“We found that the real peak of the sleep – where it is most restful – is within the 70 to 74 range,” Amir Baniassadi, PhD, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Marcus Institute for Aging Research, told The Washington Post. “If we had to suggest an optimal range based on our findings, something that I’m generally hesitant to do, it should be 70 to 74.”
Sleep efficiency also went down when the temperature went below 68 degrees. There was plenty of room for variation among people.
The findings are especially relevant in light of climate change, the study says.
“Additionally, our study underscores the potential impact of climate change on sleep quality in older adults, particularly those with lower socioeconomic status, and supports increasing their adaptive capacity in the face of a changing climate,” researchers wrote.
This study differed from other sleep studies that either take place in a lab or rely on self-reported sleep behaviors, the Post noted.
The CDC recommends that people go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, make the bedroom dark with a comfortable temperature, remove electronic devices from the bedroom, and avoid large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bedtime.