Have you ever tried working when you were either really hot or really cold? It’s a constant distraction and a lot of your energy seems to be devoted to warming you up or cooling you down. Is there any research that pinpoints the optimal temperature for productivity? Fortunately there is.
One study used statistics to aggregate the results of 24 different studies analyzing the association between air temperature and productivity. The studies monitored call center workers’ performance answering calls and inputting information on the computer across different temperatures. The mathematician calculated that the optimal temperature for work is 71 °F. Of course, the exact optimal temperature varies by person, but it is likely somewhere in the 68 °F to 74 °F range (see chart).
What About Sleep?
71 °F might be great for work, but what about sleep? Your body temperature naturally declines right before you fall asleep. As it happens, turning down the thermostat can help your body temperature cool down and induce sleep. Studies show that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 61 °F and 66 °F (if you’re wearing clothes and have at least one sheet). Interestingly, having a lower core body temperature has also been found to facilitate deep sleep. Some research even supports the idea that insomnia occurs partly due to elevated core body temperature at night.
If you work at home, it’s easy to control your thermostat for work and sleep. However, if you work in an office building (or are trying to save money on your bills) you can do things like layer your clothing, or use space heaters and fans.