Mind & Body

Why You Should Sleep In A Cold Bedroom

Whether you like to bundle up with several layers of blankets or sleep on a bare mattress exposed to the elements, there's no one right way to sleep. But if you're trying to maintain a healthy weight, there might be: research shows that sleeping in a cold room could help boost your metabolism and make you burn more calories, even during the day.

Ebony And Ivory

When you were a baby, you had two types of fat. White fat is what you usually imagine when you think about fat: it stores calories. That's pretty much all it does. Brown fat, conversely, is what you'd call metabolically active; it burns calories to generate heat. Babies haven't yet developed the ability to shiver, so they need another way to stay warm — brown fat to the rescue. Once you got older and found other ways to maintain your body temperature, you lost most of your brown fat. Another sad truth about being human.

But a 2014 study published in the journal Diabetes suggested that you might be able to boost your body's levels of brown fat by sleeping in a chilly environment. The researchers recruited five healthy male volunteers to sleep in climate-controlled rooms at the National Institutes of Health for four months (hospital scrubs and light sheets were provided — what luxury!). The researchers kept the men's calorie intake controlled by providing all of their meals. For the first month, the men slept with the thermostat set to a neutral 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). The next month, it was set to a chilly 66 degrees F (19 degrees C), then was reset to neutral for a month. They spent a final month sleeping in a toasty 81 degrees F (27 degrees C).

Turn Down For Fat!

The cold temperatures had a big effect on the men's bodies. After a month sleeping in the cold, the men had almost doubled their stores of brown fat, which helped improve their insulin sensitivity — a measure that's affected by shifts in blood sugar, and is generally used as a sign of metabolic health. They even burned more calories during the day. But as quickly as the improvements came about, they were easily undone: the month of sleeping in warm temperatures actually reduced their brown fat to pre-experiment levels. Even still, that's good news. To supercharge your metabolism, it may take just a month of chilly slumber.

But you can do the study subjects one better: instead of sleeping in a sterile lab somewhere, you get to snooze in your own bedroom. The right mattress can make that even more relaxing. The Leesa Mattress is built with several layers of cooling foam and comes compressed in a box to arrive on your doorstep. You can run your own experiment for 100 nights to see if it's the mattress for you — if it's not, you can send it back for free. When you order, use our offer code TKTKTK to get $100 off.

Why You Should Sleep In A Cold Bedroom!

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Prolonged exposure to mildly cold temperatures while sleeping may increase the amount of calorie-burning brown fat in our bodies. 00:30

  2. Unlike white fat, which stores calories, brown fat actually burns calories. 00:54

  3. Sleeping in the colder temperatures may also help produce better insulin sensitivity and better regulation of glucose. 01:45

How Your Bedroom Temperature Can Affect Your Sleep

Turning on the AC will help your body create the processes involved in falling asleep.

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Why Does 98 Degrees Feel Hot If That's Your Body's Temperature?

It's thanks to thermoregulation.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The average internal temperature of the human body is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37 degrees Celsius, though it fluctuates. 00:24

  2. Organisms such as snakes are thermoconforming, which means that they take on the temperature of their environment. 00:49

  3. When it's hot out, our bodies can't efficiently get rid of the heat that they're constantly generating. 01:14

Written by Curiosity Staff January 13, 2015