Pretty soon, summer nights will burn out like a bonfire, making way for pumpkin spice everything and cozy sweater weather — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Summer might be coming to a close, but it’s still here, and the worst part is, there are plenty of sweaty nights to endure — you know, the ones when you lie awake over the covers, blasting the air conditioning for some, any relief at all. But since the thermostat outside your body affects your internal temperature, have you ever considered whether it’s safe to sleep with the AC running? Or does sleeping with the cool air blasting on you all night long cause too much of a chill for your body?
Think of it this way: There’s roughly a month or so left summer, and August can get hot AF. Plus, that last stretch of dry heat in September is no better, so the temptation to crank up the AC while you’re sleeping is definitely there. The question is, should you give in? For the record, as far as science is concerned, in addition to any expert I’ve personally talked to, you definitely have the go-ahead to turn up the AC all night long. However, like anything else, there are some best practices to take into consideration so you can chill and be chilled, without waking up with one.
I know myself, and no matter what season it is, or how hot or cold it is outside, I prefer to keep the four walls of my bedroom on the cooler side. I always assumed this was a direct result of my obsession with cuddling comfortably under the covers with my husband (or, you know, a stuffed animal — sorry, babe), but according to sleep science coach and founder of SleepZoo Chris Brantner, the optimal sleep temperature is on the cooler side of the spectrum.
“Sleeping when it's warm can be difficult because your body needs to lower its core temperature a few degrees in order to get to sleep and stay asleep,” Brantner tells Elite Daily, adding that it’s much easier for your body to cool down than it is to warm up. So not only is it safe to sleep with the AC running, Brantner says it’s actually recommended.
But how cold is too cold, and how warm is too warm? According to the National Sleep Foundation, the sweet spot — or, should I say, sleep spot — for your bedroom temperature is going to be anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. So just like how Goldilocks taste-tested the three bears' porridge to see what was too hot or too cold for her, play around with these different temperatures to see how your body reacts, because chances are, you'll find one that's just right for you.
Now, if you’re thinking there has to be a catch — because there’s always a catch — then you’d be right. There are a few details that, if ignored, could make sleeping with the AC on bad for your health, and maybe even your sleep cycle. However, these potential drawbacks are minor and easily fixed, should you experience them.
Here's how to make sure your AC habit isn't negatively affecting your health on the DL: As soon as you wake up in the morning after sleeping through the night with the AC blasting, take note of your breathing. Are you stuffy? Next, touch your arms, legs, face — does your skin feel dry? Brantner tells Elite Daily that while sleeping in a cool atmosphere is great for your body overall, the AC unit, specifically, can actually dry out your room. This can result in “breathing difficulties at night” and potentially “dry out your skin considerably,” says Brantner. And if that’s the case, you may want to figure out alternative ways to cool down.
What’s more, in an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Dr. Roy Raymann, resident sleep expert and vice president of Sleep Science & Scientific Affairs at SleepScore Labs, says it’s also important that you not only stay on top of cleaning your AC unit, but that you make sure you’re doing a thorough job when doing so. Any dust, bacteria, or germs that lurk in the crevices of your AC vent could easily spread around your bedroom once you turn it on, Raymann says, and that can lead to all kinds of health issues.
As for your actual sleep cycle, that could be in jeopardy, too, depending on the type of air conditioning you have. If, for example, your AC is a clunky old thing that makes an obscenely obnoxious revving sound every time you turn it on, Raymann says the overall temperature in the room might make you sleepy, but chances are, the noise will keep you awake. Your best bet here, he suggests, is to pre-cool the bedroom a few hours before crawling into bed so you get the best of both worlds.
Aside from that, though, the only potentially pressing issue with sleeping with the AC on all night, every night, is that your body is going to get used to that temperature. Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert Dr. Sujay Kansagra tells Elite Daily over email that regularly using your AC to help you sleep every night will inevitably cause your brain to develop a kind of association between air conditioning and sleep — which is great, until autumn, that is, when the dire need to crank up the cold air isn’t a thing anymore. But, worst-case scenario, you’ll have a little trouble adjusting to the seasons, and nothing more. Rest assured, your body will adjust. If not, follow my lead and sleep with the AC on all year round, baby.