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Why Does Your Temperature Fluctuate During Sleep?

Updated: Jan 15

Sleep is vital for our overall health, but body temperature changes can make it difficult to get that all-important rest. Have you ever wondered why your temperature fluctuates during sleep? Various factors may cause these fluctuations; we explain four of the most common causes below.

Hormonal Fluctuations

Changes in hormone levels can significantly affect body temperature during sleep. For example, people experiencing menopause or pregnancy often have drastic hormonal shifts. These hormonal shifts can lead to hot flashes and night sweats. When the hot flashes or night sweats are over, you may feel extra cold. These temperature fluctuations can make it difficult to sleep comfortably, leaving you feeling restless and exhausted. To combat this issue, invest in breathable nighttime clothing as well as a better mattress and bedding.

Underlying Health Conditions

Certain underlying health conditions, such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, and hyperthyroidism, can cause fluctuations in body temperature during sleep. These conditions can disrupt the body's normal thermoregulation processes, leading to increased heat production or decreased heat loss. People with these conditions may experience night sweats or feel warm when they try to sleep. Seek medical advice if persistent or unexplained changes in body temperature occur during sleep.

Sleep Disorders

Some sleep disorders can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature, resulting in temperature changes during sleep. For instance, sleep apnea can cause brief awakenings throughout the night. Waking up prevents your body from reaching deep, restorative sleep stages, which is where body temperature regulation occurs. Additionally, restless leg syndrome can cause increased body movement, leading to temperature fluctuations as the body struggles to find a comfortable position. Treatment for these sleep disorders may help alleviate body temperature fluctuations while sleeping. Specific sleeping accommodations, such as an adjustable mattress, can also help with some sleep disorders.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors like humidity, room temperature, and mattress material can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms and impact our ability to regulate temperature. High humidity levels can cause us to feel overheated and struggle to fall asleep. Cold environments may result in chills and difficulty staying asleep. To ensure a comfortable sleeping environment, try to keep your room between 68–72°F. Use a humidifier, dehumidifier, or window ventilation to regulate humidity levels. Invest in the right mattress for your sleep needs to stay comfortable all night long.

Understanding why your temperature fluctuates during sleep is crucial for staying healthy, especially as we head into cold and flu season. When you acknowledge these causes and make appropriate adjustments, you can create a restful sleeping environment, maintain your health, and improve your quality of life.

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