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How do Thermal Environments affect our body clock?

The circadian rhythm serves an important purpose in preparing the body for changes in the environment, such as anticipating times for physical activity, sleep and meals. The strongest external queue is the light/dark cycle, however, other external factors such as temperature can have significant effects on our internal body clock.

Heat has a significant impact on the circadian rhythm of living organisms. Heat affects circadian rhythm by regulating the release of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Humans have a sleep-wake rhythm that is repeated in a 24-hour cycle.ย Research has shown that exposure to high temperatures can disrupt the normal functioning of the biological clockย and can suppress melatonin release, leading to changes in sleep patterns.

During sleep, the core body temperature drops, signalling to the body that it is time to sleep. Exposure to heat can raise the core body temperature and make it harder to fall/stay asleep. Heat can disturb sleep more than cold, especially in young and elderly people. This is because heat makes people more awake and decreases the time they spend in deep sleep. One reason for this could be that, if sleep is disturbed at the beginning, the body tries to catch up later on. Heat-related sleep problems donโ€™t go away, even after several days of being exposed to heat: Even if people are sleep-deprived, heat still affects the amount of time in deep sleep. Wakefulness is the only stage that can help the body deal with high temperatures and it replaces deep sleep and dreaming to help the body stay at a normal temperature.

Therefore, it is important to keep the temperature in mind when it comes to sleep and wakefulness. For sleeping, the ideal temperature is about 18 degrees Celsius, which helps the body get into the best state for sleeping. It can lower the bodyโ€™s temperature and make for a deeper, more restful sleep. If itโ€™s too hot or too cold, it can interfere with sleep quality and make it harder to fall or stay asleep.

To keep cool at night

  • Close curtains to limit light and heat
  • Drink cool water to stay hydrated
  • Wear loose and lightweight clothing
  • Use a Genius Smart Plug to schedule a fan to come on if the temperature exceeds 22 degrees, or using IFTTT, when the sun sets.

To keep warm at night

  • Schedule your electric blanket to turn on prior to you going to bed using a Genius Smart Plug
  • Remove materials such as furniture or clothing from blocking your radiator and absorbing the heat
  • Ensure your heating schedules are up-to-date to reflect the time of year
  • Close your curtains as soon as dusk falls to maximise your house’s potential to retain heat

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On the other hand, when it comes to being awake and alert, the ideal temperature is a bit higher; around 21-22 degrees Celsius. This temperature range is generally comfortable for most people and helps keep cognitive function and alertness during the day. However, if itโ€™s too hot or too cold, it can cause discomfort, fatigue and lower overall productivity.

It is important to note that individual comfort may vary and the optimal temperatures may be different for each person. Experimenting with different temperatures to find what works best for you is recommended.