The Question: Why do we sleep better in fresh air?
The Answer: There's nothing quite like the brisk spring air floating through an open window. In fact, you could even argue that it helps you sleep better -- and you'd be correct. That's because when it comes to drifting off to dreamland, our brains simply prefer to do it in cooler climates, says Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., an environmental scholar at the National Sleep Foundation.
"Fresh air can have a cooling effect and we know that a cool bedroom environment is key to getting a good night's sleep," she told The Huffington Post. "We also know there are a lot of positive associations between fresh air and relaxation, and when we feel relaxed and comfortable in our environment, we're more likely to feel sleepy."
A slight drop in body temperature can also prompt tiredness, Dautovich says. A cooler bedroom helps mimic or aid in that drop, which can signal our brains and bodies that it's time to hit the pillow. The ideal temperature for sleeping is around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
But what happens if you're in a noisy city (hi, fellow New Yorkers!) and the ambiance of the neighborhood keeps you from drifting off? The National Sleep Foundation suggests a white noise machine or grabbing some ear plugs to help mute the sounds of your surroundings. If the open window still isn't your thing, Dautovich recommends setting up a fan or an air conditioner to transform your bedroom into a relaxing sleep-haven.
"Sometimes we don't make the link between the changes in the seasons, the changes in the temperature and the changes in our sleep," which is why it's best to create a consistent, comfortable environment that promotes optimal rest, she said.
Personally, we're big fans of a delightful breeze lulling us into our Zzs. And since we can't escape to the mountains every night to get our rest, long live the open window.
"Ask Healthy Living" is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical advice.
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