The temperature of the air around you has a large effect on your everyday life. Particularly in your indoor environments, as you sleep, work, and perform your daily activities, the air temperature influences not only your comfort, but your mood, productivity and activity levels, quality of rest – even your health. Your indoor climate is now literally in the palms of your hands, thanks to Wi-Fi thermostats whose temperature controls are accessible from your smartphone. But the big question remains – just what is the ideal indoor temperature?
The answer is, there isn’t one.
It doesn’t take advanced research to determine that one person’s ideal temperature is different from the next. Most couples will affirm that one spouse sleeps blissfully in a chillier (or warmer) environment than the other. In general, though, the range where most people feel comfortable lies between 68-75 degrees F.
Why Aren’t We Comfortable at 98.6 Degrees?
So, if all humans have a body temperature of right around 98.6 degrees F, why do we prefer temperatures so much cooler than our bodies? This is because, according to the law of conductive heat transfer, heat moves from warmer regions to cooler ones. Your body is continually producing heat; therefore the air around you must be cool enough that you can give off enough warmth to avoid overheating, but not so cool that you transfer heat at a faster rate than you can produce it.
Other factors affect your body’s rate of heat transfer, like the season, how much clothing you are wearing, and your BMI (Body Mass Index). The more clothing you are wearing or extra tissue you are carrying on your body, the cooler the air temperature will need to be to ensure the proper rate of heat transfer. Generally speaking, a person wearing no clothing could be comfortable at up to 85 degrees F, while someone in heavy winter clothing and a thick jacket might be happy at 0 degrees.
Also factoring in is the amount of heat tolerance or acclimation. Here, in the middle of the Florida summer, you might feel great even at 80 degrees indoors, whereas someone acclimated to the snowy wintertime may find 80 degrees indoors unbearably hot.
How Room Temperature Affects Your Sleep
At night, your preferred sleeping temperature is usually lower than what you are comfortable with in the daytime. This is because your body temperature decreases slightly to allow you to go to sleep. So, if your room is either too hot or too cold, your body has to work harder to maintain its ideal sleep temperature – which, again, varies from person to person – causing discomfort and possibly waking you up. In fact, some issues with insomnia can be traced to an uncomfortable bedroom temperature. Even memory foam pillows or mattresses, popular because they form to your body shape, can cause you to overheat, meaning that you may have to crank down the air conditioning by a couple of extra degrees to compensate.
So, next time you reach for the thermostat, you might just pause to think about your ideal room temperature and how it changes with different times, seasons and activities.
How about You?
What indoor temperature do YOU find most comfortable right now, and what is your experience with how temperature affects your everyday life? Are you using any modern air conditioning technology that has made an impact on your indoor comfort? Feel free to leave your comments below.