Healthy, comfortable bedrooms

19 June 2023

You spend roughly a third of your life sleeping, so the state of your bedroom has a massive impact on your respiratory health.

The Crucial Role of Bedroom Temperatures in Winter for Respiratory Health

On cold winter days, we often focus on staying warm and cosy indoors. However, in our pursuit of comfort, we sometimes overlook the significant impact that bedroom temperatures can have on our respiratory health. The temperature at which we sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining the well-being of our respiratory system. We'll explore the importance of maintaining optimal overnight bedroom temperatures during winter and the positive effects it can have on our respiratory health.

Research has shown that even one night in a cold room can affect a child's respiratory function for days.

The Science Behind It.

Our respiratory system is sensitive to environmental changes, particularly temperature. When we sleep in cold rooms, the airways in our lungs may constrict, making breathing difficult. Additionally, cold air tends to be drier, which can lead to irritation and inflammation in our airways. These factors increase the risk of respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, and even the common cold. On the other hand, excessively warm temperatures can also be detrimental, as they promote the growth of dust mites and mold, triggering allergies and asthma symptoms.

Optimal Bedroom Temperature.

So, what exactly is the ideal temperature for our bedrooms during winter? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends keeping the bedroom temperature 15-19 degrees Celsius for optimal sleep and respiratory health. This range strikes a balance between keeping us warm and allowing for a comfortable and uninterrupted night's sleep.

Benefits of Maintaining the Right Temperature.

  1. Improved Sleep Quality: Research suggests that cooler temperatures promote better sleep. The cool environment helps regulate our body temperature, signaling our brain that it's time to rest. When we achieve deeper and more restorative sleep, our bodies can better recover, leading to improved overall health, including respiratory function.
  2. Reduced Risk of Respiratory Infections: By keeping our bedrooms within the recommended temperature range, we minimize the risk of respiratory infections. The warmer, moist environment created by higher temperatures can facilitate the growth of bacteria and viruses, making us more susceptible to illness. On the contrary, cooler temperatures create an inhospitable environment for pathogens, reducing the likelihood of falling ill.
  3. Easier Breathing: Cold, dry air can cause the airways to constrict, leading to difficulty breathing for those with respiratory conditions such as asthma. By maintaining a slightly warmer and more humid environment, we can alleviate this discomfort and ensure smooth and unobstructed airflow, making breathing easier during the night.

The Four key factors in a comfortable healthy bedroom are:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity & condensation
  • Dust mites
  • Mould

Tips to Improve your Bedroom Health

  1. Use a thermostatically controlled heater in bedrooms for children and elderly. Use a thermostatically controller heater or heat pump in the bedrooms of vulnerable family members. The cost will be rewarded with improved winter health saving you money in doctors visits, medicines and days off work to care for them.
  2. Find the Goldilocks zone. The ideal temperature for a comfortable sleep is 18C for a healthy adult so the heating burden on your power bill needn't be so great. For infants and the elderly a degree or two higher is needed.
  3. Put a Blanket on your Ceiling. Before getting a heat pump make sure your ceiling has it's own nice warm duvet to prevent heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Ceiling insulation can move, creating gaps for heat to escape through so it's good to check. Plus your ceiling insulation should be at least 180mm thick and if you have underfloor foil insulation, it should still be shiny and rip free.
  4. Clean the air. Keeping doors and windows open creates a cross draught that keeps your whole house fresh and blows away stale humid air. And don't forget to leave wardrobes slightly open for ventilation.
  5. Close Bathroom Door. Opening doors for ventilation is a great move but leaving bathroom doors open in or near bedrooms is not. Make sure ensuites and bathrooms have effective extraction vents and keep the door shut to prevent steam creating condensation in your bedroom.
  6. Give your mattress a makeover. A regular turn and vacuum will keep your mattress smelling sweet (or not smelling at all). Dust mites hate sunshine so once a month, put your mattress out on the deck for a few hours. The same goes for covers and blankets - a regular wash and sunshine works wonders.
  7. Suck it up. Treat your bedroom carpet or rug to a deep clean. Your local supermarket has steam cleaners for hire and it's worth the money just to see the change in colour.
  8. Check the filters. Heat pumps, dehumidifiers, ventilation systems... any appliance with a filter needs to be regularly cleaned to keep it healthy and operating safely. With clean filters they'll help remove dust from building up and improve air quality.
  9. It's curtains for mould.
    1. Remove mould: Mould and mildew are factors that can aggravate respiratory conditions. EECA recommends using vinegar and water to remove mould from windows, sills, walls & ceilings.
    2. Clean curtains: Wash curtains and dry well in the sun before hanging back up. For removing mould, moisten the areas with some lemon juice and then spread with salt and leave in the sun to dry, before rinsing thoroughly twice*.

Source: *

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