Warm & Cozy: Optimal Sleep Conditions for Older Adults Questioned

Originally featured September 22, 2023 on Mather Institute
By Ajla Basic

A new study has found the perfect sleeping temperature for older adults. For a long time we have been told that sleeping in a colder room will result in better sleep, and most research has supported that assumption. But now a longitudinal study examined the association between bedroom temperature and sleep quality in a sample of community-dwelling older adults, and it found that may not be the case as we grow older. Understanding this connection is key, because older adults who experience restless or disrupted sleep can have significant impacts on their cognitive and physical health, such as: mood, stress reaction, diabetes management, and cardiovascular diseases.

Participants in this study were community-dwelling older adults, meaning they lived in their homes, and were at least 65 years old. The 12-month long observational study monitored home temperature and sleep quality of the participants (via a wearable device continuously). The researchers found that sleep was most efficient and restful for the participants when the temperature ranged between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (69 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Additionally, they found that if the temperature increased 5 degrees, there was only a 5 to 10% decrease in sleep efficiency. This indicates that although 75 may be too hot for younger to middle-aged adults, for older adults, sleep efficiency only started to decrease when temperatures went above 77 degrees. Researchers think the reason for this may be that, since your body works harder to keep your body warmer as you get older, a higher temperature may actually help older adults sleep better.


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