Most people set their home thermostats according to their comfort levels. They also try to reduce energy costs. For example, they might set their thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter because it significantly reduces their utility bills, choosing to rely on a wood stove rather than traditional heating to save money. In the summer, they’ll set the temperature to 78 degrees and drink lots of water to stay cool.
This is a good strategy if your sole purpose is to save money, but have you considered the idea that you should be setting the temperature based on what’s healthiest? According to research, there’s an ideal temperature range that’s best for your health, and it depends on what you’re doing.
Best Temperature Day-to-Day
Most research supports setting the indoor temperature between 60 and 80 degrees day-to-day. This range is designated as the best for kickstarting your metabolism, helping you sleep, relaxing you, and boosting mental health and productivity. This is a broad range, however, so you’re probably looking for something a little more specific.
On average, people tend to feel most comfortable at around 72 degrees. Infants and the elderly may prefer a slightly warmer temperature. Women at an age before menopause tend to prefer slightly warmer temperatures as well.
You may not require such a high temperature setting if you have large appliances that emit a lot of heat. Your fridge, television, oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer, hair dryer, etc. can all contribute to raising the temperature in your home.
Best Temperature for Sleep
Those who struggle with insomnia or falling asleep each night might benefit from something as simple as adjusting the thermostat before bed.
“When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature—the temperature your brain is trying to achieve—goes down,” H. Craig Heller, Ph.D., professor of biology at Stanford University, told WebMD. “Think of it as the internal thermostat. If you are in a cooler room, it is easier for that to happen.”
On the flipside, if the temperature in your room is too warm, it will inhibit your ability to sleep. You’ll be wrestling with the desire to keep the covers on your cooling body and kick them off because it’s too hot.
Heller also says that Rapid Eye Movement is affected when the room is too hot. For optimum circadian rhythms, a more comfortable temperature is best. He recommends setting the thermostat between 65 and 72 degrees with 68 being the most common temperature for sleep.
Best Temperature for Weight Loss
There’s also research to support that a certain temperature is best for weight loss. Your body’s metabolic rate is the rate at which you burn calories in a day. Body movement is a key part of boosting your metabolism and burning calories, and it shows that a cooler atmosphere can increase that.
The Atlantic reported on a study published in the journal of Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. Their findings revealed that “regular exposure to mild cold may provide a healthy and sustainable alternative strategy for increasing energy expenditure.” In other words, being slightly cold can help you lose weight.
Their findings showed that a person’s metabolic rate can increase by five times when they’re shivering. Of course, this is terribly uncomfortable, but setting the temperature somewhere between 64 and 67 degrees daily can contribute to weight loss.
There’s also evidence that mild coldness can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes because it influences your glucose metabolism. All in all, it can contribute to significant weight loss.
Variable Temperatures for Overall Health
Overall, studies show that adjusting the temperature according to your activity is ideal for your health.
“It has previously been assumed that stable fixed indoor temperatures would satisfy comfort and health in most people,” says Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, a professor of Ecological Energetics and Health at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He led and authored a study on fluctuations of indoor temperatures to find that adjusting the temperature accordingly improves general health.
“However, this research indicates that mild cold and variable temperatures may have a positive effect on our health and at the same time are acceptable or even may create pleasure,” he says.
Setting a programmable thermostat so that it adjusts the temperature for sleep and wake times is a simple step with a hugely beneficial impact on your health.