Sleeping in a hot room can cause nightmares, expert says

If you need or want to sleep soundly at night, you should make sure your bedroom is fairly cool. In a Liverpool Echo article, sleep counselors warn that a hot room can lead to intense nightmares for sleepers.

For best results, aim for a temperature between 60.8 – 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 18 degrees Celsius). Otherwise, warns Dr. Neil Stanley of the British Sleep Society and the European Sleep Research Society, you run a higher risk of going through a night terror, which are particularly bad nightmares.

Ensuring your bedroom is at the right temperature is not just vital to ensuring you have sweet dreams. It will also reduce the chances of sleeping disorders like snoring and sleep apnea, where your breathing becomes too shallow or even stops for a short while before restarting. (Related: Your insomnia may be caused by your diet! Not eating enough veggies and gorging on junk food makes you more restless.)

Sleep deprivation results in tumultuous REM sleep and nightmares

Dr. Stanley explained that the internal body temperature of a healthy human being hovers around 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C). Uninterrupted sleep requires that core temperature to go down to 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius).

The necessary amount of body heat is normally lost via the head or face, which most sleepers leave uncovered. However, a warm or hot room will prevent your body from reducing its core temperature, which will disturb your slumber.

Sleep-deprived people will end up experiencing intensified periods of sleep. During this time, the brain will remain more active than is normal. A higher level of brain activity during sleep will increase the likelihood of a dream. It also increases the vividness of your dreams – and, unfortunately, your nightmares as well.

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In addition to stronger nightmares, sleep deprivation increases the chances of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During these moments, sleepers start acting out the powerful events in their dream by uttering loud noises and abruptly moving their limbs. REM sleep, says Dr. Stanley, takes place during either the lighter or deepest stage of sleep. These stages can be triggered by the room temperature disturbing your sleep. During REM sleep, the brainwaves act as if the dreamer is awake. This is usually the time when a nightmare takes place.

Keeping your bedroom cool improves sleep quality and saves money

The U.K. Sleep Council and the U.S. National Sleep Foundation are issuing similar sleeping advice this spring. The former recommends ambient room temperature, while the latter recommends cooler temperatures for uninterrupted shut-eye.

Dr. Stanley recommends sleepers to stay cool during the night. Possible steps include reducing the heating in your room, opening a window to let air cycle in and out of the room, and sleeping under natural fibers like cotton and silk.

He also suggests avoiding taking meals or snacks late in the evening. Eating food increases your internal body temperature, he warns, which leads to more difficulty in losing body heat.

You could also save money if you cut back on heating and keep your bedroom cool. Engineer Steve Watson of STL Heating & Energy cites studies where reducing the heat of a thermostat by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit could save at least $133 every year.

Watson further advises talking things over with your significant other before fiddling with the thermostat. That way, you can prevent a nasty “thermo-spat,” an argument about the temperature of the room.

Read up on more ways to improve the quality of your sleep and overall health at Health.

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