Lowering your home’s heating overnight will not only reduce your energy bills, it can improve your health, too – so you can feel doubly positive about turning the thermostat down a degree or two.
The biggest impact that lowering your heating overnight can have is on your quality of sleep – which of course is central to health. A drop in temperature as bedtime nears is what triggers your body to produce melatonin, which helps you to feel sleepy. Dr Karan Rajan, an NHS doctor, explains that warmer temperatures make your body and brain more active, to cool yourself down, and this limits your REM and slow-wave sleep, which your body needs to recharge.
Ensuring lower heating levels overnight also helps your body to get into the right kind of daily rhythm for the best and most restorative sleep. “Ideally your brain temperature needs to be a fraction of a degree cooler than the rest of the body. When this is the case, the ‘circadian timer’ in the brain, which controls the sleep cycle, can function optimally,” says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert at Silentnight, in an article for Yahoo UK.
Lower heating overnight for better quality sleep
In fact, having your bedroom too warm can even cause sleep disfunction. “About one to one and a half hours before falling sleep, the body starts to lose heat from its central core and that brings on increased feelings of tiredness in normal healthy adults,” says Dr Cameron Van den Heuvel, whose 2006 study evidenced that warmer temperatures were associated with sleep onset insomnia. “Studies of sleep onset insomniacs show that they consistently have a warmer core body temperature immediately before initiating sleep, when compared with normal healthy adults.”
In addition, poor sleep can reduce the release of growth hormones – which are anti-aging in adults – while cooler bedroom temperatures have also been linked to a reduction in the risk of diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
Avoid dehydration through lower bedroom temperatures
Lower heating overnight can also improve your health in other ways. If the thermostat is set high, the room can dry out too much, which can lead to dry and itchy skin, as well as drying out the mucous membranes in your nose. These can become inflamed and narrow the airways, which leads to snoring. This sort of dehydration can also reduce your ability to fight off infections.
The Sleep Foundation recommends that the best bedroom temperature for sleep is 18˚C, although this can vary a few degrees between individuals, so anywhere between 16˚C and 19˚C is considered the right range for night-time heating.