New York Times Examines Body Temperature, Age

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December 29, 2009

Elderly Woman Sleeping

Heat can have a negative effect on your sleep. Research suggests that a hot sleeping environment leads to more wake time and lighter sleep at night. In general, sleep scientists recommend keeping your room slightly cool. However, opinions about what constitutes as "hot" and "cold" vary because everyone is different. In fact, a recent column in the New York Times suggests that conventional wisdom about body temperature — that the average is 98.6 degrees — might be all wrong. According to the Times, recent studies have shown that body temperatures can decrease as we age. While this might sound like great news for people who live in warmer climates, it can have a disastrous effect on your health. The Times notes that a lower baseline temperature can mask fevers, which are the body's immune response to infections. Also, extreme cold can make it just as difficult to sleep as extreme heat. Your sleep environment should be pleasant and relaxing, and you should always consult your doctor if you experience abnormal body temperature fluctuations.