How temperature influences sleep

Temperature has a massive influence on a child’s sleep. Not only does it influence how comfortably your child will sleep, but it is an important facet to consider regarding safety.

If your baby is too hot, they may be more at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death (you can read more about what the Lullaby Trust advises here).

The ideal temperature for your baby while sleeping is 18.3 to 21.1 degrees Celsius. Keep in mind that your child won’t learn to keep a cover on all night until they are older than 18-24 months, so a sleep sack is recommended.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. If the room is too cold for you, it is too cold for your baby. If it is too warm for you, it is too warm for your baby.

Sleep is influenced by temperature as it regulates our body clocks

Our internal body clock controls our body temperature and when our temperature is high, like during the day, our bodies are more awake. We all have a dip in body temperature in the afternoon and we feel sleepy (Ferber calls this the “afternoon dip”).

“Our internal body clock controls our body temperature and when our temperature is high, like during the day, our bodies are more awake.”

At night, when the sun goes down, our body temperature starts to drop and melatonin (a hormone) is released in our bodies inducing sleep. Our temperature is lowest at night until around 4am, when our bodies start to prepare to wake up. Many parents complain about their baby’s sleep in the early morning hours. It’s the lightest sleep of the night.

If it is too hot

On very warm days, keep your baby cool by closing the curtains or blinds and opening a window in their room. There are certain summer days when you aren’t going to be able to get the room to the ideal temperature, but you need to make sure that you keep your baby as cool as you can by letting in a breeze.

If it is too cold

If you think your baby is getting too hot, check their tummy. If it feels hot or if they’re sweaty, remove some layers. You don’t need to worry if your baby’s hands and feet feel cool, as this is completely normal.
No matter how cold the weather is, never put a hot water bottle or electric blanket in your baby’s cot. Heaters and radiators should be kept well away.

baby-sleep-table
Use this chart to determine how your child should be dressed

Also read:

Help your toddler sleep better
Setting the stage for a good night’s sleep