While nothing beats a healthy, well-balanced diet and regular exercise, slumbering in a cool environment could help you get closer to your weight-loss goals. The science behind this has to do with the properties of fat in our bodies.
White fat versus brown fat
There are two main types of fat stored in the body: white fat and brown fat. White fat makes up the bulk of fat in the body. It contains large lipid (fatty acid) droplets and stores excess calories as energy, usually in our hips, thighs and stomach. A buildup of white fat can lead to weight gain.
Brown fat is made up of smaller lipid droplets and a whole lot of mitochondria, aka the "powerhouse" of the cell. When we get cold, mitochondria produce energy in the form of heat to warm us up, all while boosting our metabolism and burning off calories.
So what’s the ideal sleeping temperature?
A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed that folks prefer a winter setting of 67 to 70 degrees. Some professionals say 65°F is the sweet spot, while others recommend anywhere between 60°F and 68°F. However, this will depend on the individual. For instance, you might consider cranking up the thermostat if you have a medical condition that makes you feel cold all the time. Or maybe your partner prefers sleeping in warmer environments. Whatever the case may be, finding the right temperature for your specific needs is key to getting your best rest.
More reasons to keep cool
Besides staving off weight gain, dialing down the thermostat may offer relief from hot flashes and night sweats. In fact, past studies suggest that Black women may be more likely to experience these symptoms during menopause than white women.
What’s more, sleeping in a cold room may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the Cleveland Clinic, brown fat cells break down glucose and fat molecules to generate heat and help regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels. Cooling down your sleep environment may also boost melatonin levels, which in turn may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, thanks to melatonin’s strong neuroprotective properties. You may even find yourself less stressed throughout the day, since cooler temperatures can improve overall sleep quality.
A 'cool' perk for your pocket: Lowering your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day can help you save on energy costs during the winter—potentially up to 10 percent annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
A “cool” perk for your pocket: Lowering your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day can help you save on energy costs during the winter—potentially up to 10 percent annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. So, if you’re feeling a bit thrifty this winter and you don’t mind adding a few extra layers to your bed to keep the shivers away, consider giving this a try. Also consider the health and comfort of those who live with you, as well as your own.
Can’t control the temperature? Consider these simple tips to stay cool:
Open a window. A brisk breeze from an open window can be just enough to cool you down, if it’s not too warm outside, of course. Plus, it’s easy and efficient.
Turn on a fan. For air circulation and a cooling effect, using a fan may be your best bet.
Opt for cooling sheets. To avoid waking up a “hot” mess in the morning, try using sheets made from breathable fabrics, such as cotton, linen and bamboo.
Stay hydrated. Lower your body’s internal temperature by filling up on water throughout the day.