Are you too hot for your mattress?
We explain how your room and body temperatures affect the quality of your sleep.
Our late founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, once said that air-conditioning “changed the nature of civilisation by making development possible in the tropics”, and was an enabler of Singapore’s success. In fact, the first thing he did as PM was to install air conditioners in the buildings where civil servants worked.
Today, we take it for granted, and it is ubiquitous in almost every home. But it is also one of the most divisive topics in families – splitting households down gender lines. According to a 2015 UK study, one in three couples regularly fight over the ideal temperature in the house. This ‘battle of the thermostat’ has even extended to four in 10 women turning up the heat behind their partners’ back… mainly due to one word: metabolism. Women generally have lower metabolic rates, which translates to producing less heat than men… and hence feeling chillier at the same air temperature. As a result, they prefer temperatures 2.5oC higher than men (usually between 24–25oC), a study by Dutch scientists in the same year found. This is because while both genders have roughly the same core temperatures, the perception of temperature depends largely on the skin temperature – which tends to be higher for men. A recent study revealed that on average, women’s hands exposed to cold became nearly 3oC degrees lower than men’s! Not to mention that women also tend to feel colder around ovulation, and warmer around menopause…
Hot is not so hot
In the bedroom, we tend to feel sleepy when our body temperature drops. This is because a lower body temperature slows metabolism and triggers the release of melatonin, a hormone that signals your brain that it’s time to rest.
Hence, taking a warm shower before bed is a good relaxant and transition to ZZZland – as is heading into a colder bedroom.
So how cool should the bedroom be? Experts agree that the best room temperature for sleeping is between 18–22oC. Too hot or too cold, and you’re likely to wake up more often.
Better sleep = better health
And even if you manage to kick off the covers, turn the pillow over and go back to sleep after waking up because you feel uncomfortable, the disruption can cause a lower quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, that stage when dreams occur, and the most restorative and deepest sleep takes place. In order to achieve the most restorative rest, our bodies must cycle through different stages of REM and non-REM (NREM) sleep. Frequent waking disrupts this cycle, leaving us tired even after a full night in bed.
Not enough or low-quality sleep does more damage than making you feel fatigued, it can also affect overall health. Studies have linked inadequate sleep to weight gain, since too little sleep can inhibit the production of the hormone leptin, which gives people the feeling of satiety and increase ghrelin, the hormone that makes us hungry.
Insomnia over the long term can also increase the chances of having depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and even early mortality.
Cover it right
Hence, improving the quality of your sleep is vital. Turning down the air conditioning on hot muggy nights (and when is it ever not?) is an option, but besides triggering another battle of the thermostat, it can be drying to the skin. A workaround would be to add a humidifier or two to the room (or even 20, if you want to be like Mariah Carey), but be sure not to unconsciously overlayer to fight the cold – you’ll just end up kicking it off in the end.
Whether you feel warm or cold when you sleep, your blanket should be tailored to your sleep preferences, warmth ratings and allergy concerns. Here’re some of the most common blanket fabrics light enough to be used in our tropical climate, and heavy enough for chillier bedrooms:
Cotton: Breathable and soft, it is a natural comfort enhancer. Its loose thermal weave allows air to circulate freely. Plus, it’s machine washable and holds up well to repeated washing, hence helping to reduce the build-up of allergens.
Wool: Synonymous with warm and cosy, wool can also be lightweight enough for our climate, and can help to dissipate moisture throughout the night. While some can be itchy and scratchy, this can be easily solved with an additional cover.
Down: Similar to a down comforter, but lighter and thinner in blanket form, it’s sandwiched between layers of fabric (usually cotton). It’s good for cold bedrooms, but be warned that it’s warm and not very breathable… which could lead to night sweats.
Fleece: Soft and plushy, they’re parents’ choice for children.
Synthetics: Usually made of acrylic or polyester. The good: inexpensive and warm. The bad: tends to attract static electricity, are not very breathable and cling on to hair and dust. Pair it with an additional cover if used.
You can also improve your rest by choosing a mattress made of natural materials with an eye to better sleep. This is because they provide better breathability than synthetics – on top of all their anti-allergen goodness. Natural latex, such as what’s in our pure natural latex mattresses, is a completely safe alternative that provides superior comfort to memory foam or springs and cools without chemicals by encouraging airflow through its pores, allowing heat to dissipate away from the sleeper.
For a comparison of what goes into making your perfect bed mate, here’s a handy guide for you.
If you already have a mattress that you love, you could opt for a latex mattress topper, which gives you the most immediate way to enjoy the benefits of a latex sleep surface without having to say goodbye to your current mattress.
Case it naturally
Using fabrics from Mother Nature in your bedding will also help you to stay comfortable as you sleep. Our bamboo covers are four times more permeable (breathable) than cotton, reducing the build-up of heat and moisture. They can also be removed for easy cleaning, are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and even prevent the development of moulds, dust mites and fungi that could result in spots and odours!
Lose your hot pillow
Tossing and turning at night due to the “hot side” pillow? Combat it with a latex pillow. Available in a variety of shapes to benefit back, side and stomach sleepers, our pure natural latex pillows provide supportive comfort and coolness together. Add a bamboo cover to your Sofzsleep pillow for even more breathability, and hot headrests will be a thing of the past.
No matter which combination you ultimately opt for, the Goldilocks principle is best: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It may take some experimentation, but it’ll definitely be worth it! Here’s to sleeping well tonight!