Can it be too hot for baby to sleep well?

Does temperature play a role in how well baby does or does not sleep? Is this a variable you need to consider when troubleshooting sleep issues?

Baby who is hot trying to sleep

“Please don’t blame [poor sleep on] changes in the weather–it is never too hot or too cold to sleep well” (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, page 226).

So I am reading along through HSHHC and come across this line–and I am totally surprised.

I obviously have a strong disagreement with this statement–just read my post Finding the Ideal Temperature for Your Child’s Sleep.

I kind of think most people would agree with me–I think most of us have been either too hot or too cold at least one night of our lives and we didn’t sleep well that night. In the most post linked above, I included this info:

“Experts agree the temperature of your sleeping area and how comfortable you feel in it affect how well and how long you snooze. Why? “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down,” says H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, who wrote a chapter on temperature and sleep for a medical textbook. “Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too cold, as in Roy’s case, or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point. 

That mild drop in body temperature induces sleep. Generally, Heller says, “if you are in a cooler [rather than too-warm] room, it is easier for that to happen.” But if the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up, says Ralph Downey III, PhD, chief of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University…” (source)

Now, I think Weissbluth is a sleep expert–no doubt.

So then I think, why would he make such a statement?

I think the answer lies in the context of the statement. In this section of the book, he is talking about the importance of not overstimulating a child (which he defines as keeping up too long).

He is cautioning parents not to keep baby up too long and if you do, baby won’t sleep well.

He then makes his statement to not blame the temperature. I think (my interpretation) what he is trying to impress is the importance of waketime length and to not fall into a trap of blaming what isn’t at fault.

He does make several contradictory statements throughout the book (like, Never wake a sleeping baby versus wake baby if needed to preserve future naps), so he will make a strong statement in order to make a point without using qualifiers and caveats.

My assumption is that this statement falls into that category.

I think temperature is very important to consider for good sleep. We need to be dressed appropriately for the temperature in the room.

As things have warmed up this summer, we have had to remove several of Brayden’s blankets he loved to sleep with during the winter. When he gets too hot, he has night terrors. You obviously aren’t sleeping well during a night terror.

In the end, despite this one-liner in this book I respect, I still stand by my belief that temperature is an important factor to consider with good sleep.

>>>Read: Nightmares vs. Night Terrors: How To Help Your Child Through Each

Can it be too hot for baby to sleep pinnable image

10 thoughts on “Can it be too hot for baby to sleep well?”

  1. We turned out AC on a few times so far and one night I forgot to switch it back to heat. I woke up freezing, checked the thermostat and saw just how cold it was in the house! I turned the heat on and went back to bed. And I consider myself a pretty good sleeper!

  2. My LO actually wakes up when the air conditioner comes on. I can't stand air blowing on me, like mother like daughter! I have a feeling this will be a challenge these summer months here in texas 🙂

  3. We've been living in South America since our oldest daughter was 2 months old (she's now 2 and our youngest is 2 months). The temperatures are extreme – both hot and cold – and there's little to no insulation in our house. Add to that the fact that there is no central air/heat to speak of, AND the only room air units are in the living room and our master bedroom. Needless to say our oldest has adjusted to sleeping in whatever temperature it happens to be (still to be decided how the little one will do). Of course I dress them appropriately – footed jammies layered on top of leggings and long sleeved onesies in the winter and just diapers in the summer – but they have been rather resilient with the temperature changes. It may just be a "personality" thing…or a learned preference, or, my belief: God's blessing for my husband and I!!! I don't know what we would do if the girls couldn't sleep well in a range of temperatures!

  4. Agreed. My LO actually started sttn after we figured out to stop putting her in those fleecie footie jammies. I hated those as a kid, but it was so cold in her room, I thought she needed them! She's a much better sleeper when it's colder.

  5. Agreed. My LO actually started sttn after we figured out to stop putting her in those fleecie footie jammies. I hated those as a kid, but it was so cold in her room, I thought she needed them! She's a much better sleeper when it's colder.

  6. I wake up when it's too cold for sure! My oldest surprised me by being able to sleep in a wide range of temperatures, but there's a cut-off, of course. He told me he couldn't sleep because of the cold when we tried to go camping on a 40ish-degree night. I think this comes under the category of "make sure everything reasonable is in place before troubleshooting." 🙂

  7. Thanks for all of your comments.Kristy I like your points–some people have a wider range but I would say your son is normal in that most if not all people have some cut-off point.

  8. In coastal south Georgia, I promise you, it can definitely be too hot to sleep! 🙂 I've been here my entire life and summer never gets easier. It's normal to still be 80 degrees out with 100% humidity when we do bedtime between 7pm-8pm…I know I like to be on the cooler side when trying to go to sleep, and I think both of our boys do as well. Ethan is 14 months, and does have trouble sleeping when it's hot. Thank God for AC that is working :)Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy this summer!

  9. Oh thank you Heather! I am definitely lucky on two fronts–nights get cold even in summer and we have very little humidity. I should be able to stay cool enough I hope 🙂

  10. My daughter sleeps in a diaper only with the house at 70 degrees or cooler. Any warmer or more clothing and she cries in her sleep for the first five hours then wakes up hysterical and sweaty. She actually has to be cold to the touch! Took us a long, long time to figure that out!!!


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