Keeping My Power Bills Down

Your Thermostat Does More Than Regulate Your HVAC System: It Can Improve Your Sleep And Energy Level, Too

If you are like most people, you've probably heard a lot about saving on your energy costs by setting your thermostat low in the winter and higher in the summer. While the temperature setting on your thermostat does directly affect how much fuel you burn and can be an effective tool for conserving both energy and curtailing energy costs, it is not the only thing you should consider when you adjust the dial. The ambient air temperature in your home affects both the quality of your sleep and your energy levels during the day. Consider these effects of air that is too warm or too cool when you choose the thermostat settings for your HVAC system.

What is the ideal temperature for sleeping?

The ideal temperature for sleeping varies depending on your personal basal body temperature, body mass, age, and other environmental factors, such as sleeping clothes, bedding, and the humidity level in the room. According to a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) newsletter, temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for most people. The ideal temperature for you may be slightly higher or lower.

How does the temperature affect sleep?

Your body's core temperature drops slightly as it prepares for sleep. It is the slow decrease in body temperature that makes you feel drowsy and prepares your body for a restful night's sleep. Your body temperature remains consistent throughout the initial stages of sleep, but when it enters Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, the stage where information is processed and consolidated to form long-term memories, the brain turns off the temperature controls and allows your body to adjust to the surrounding temperature. If the room temperature is too high or too low, you may be roused from sleep, interrupting your sleep cycles. That means your brain has not had time to process and consolidate information you have taken in during your waking hours. This consolidation prevents information loss, improves memory, facilitates new learning, and can even improve your eye-hand coordination, says NSF.

How does the temperature affect energy levels?

One way the temperature affects your energy levels during the day is a reflection of how it has affected your sleep the night. If the room temperature has caused interruptions in your sleep cycles, even if you are not aware that you awoke several times in the night, you will feel the effects the following day. A lack of quality sleep will leave you with less energy for daily tasks, but that's not the only way temperature affects your energy levels. If the temperature is too low during the day and your body temperatures drops, you will also experience a lull in energy. NSF recommends exercise to improve blood circulation and force your body to regulate its temperature to get over an afternoon slump.

How do you find your ideal temperature?

Finding the right temperature for you takes some trial and error. If you want to find the lowest temperature you can set your thermostat without interrupting your sleep in the winter, begin by setting it at 67 degrees and observe your sleep patterns for several days. Gradually move the dial back two degrees at a time to determine the best setting for you. Likewise, adjust your daytime temperatures a degree or two at time until you find the level where you feel energized and productive throughout the day.

Can you just add more blankets at night?

You can compensate with blankets while sleeping, but keep in mind that the ambient air temperature will still affect the quality of your sleep. Heavy blankets may cause you to overheat in the middle of the night when your body temperatures drop, interrupting your sleep cycles, too. NSF recommends wearing socks to bed or placing a heating bottle at your feet to improve circulation and regulate your normal body temperature.

Don't let your desires to save energy and lower your heating costs ruin your sleep and sap your energy. Keep both in mind as you set the thermostat for your HVAC system.