We would like to share an article about sleep temperature by one of our favorite guest bloggers, Lois Maharg.
Temperature regulation at night can be a tricky business. Especially for people who have trouble with insomnia, feeling a little too cold or a little too hot can put the kibosh on sleep. If you’re sensitive to temperature fluctuations at night, there are ways to set yourself up for greater comfort. Changes in your bedtime routine and the bedroom can help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more continuously through the night.
Body Temperature at Night Your core body—or internal—temperature fluctuates by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit every day. It’s highest during the daytime, when you’re alert. It starts falling in the evening and reaches its low point an hour or two before you wake up. You feel sleepiest when your core body temperature is falling and at its trough. If you’re temperature sensitive or prone to insomnia, you may have trouble down-regulating your core body temperature at night. Internally, you’re too hot to fall asleep easily and sleep through the night. But you can take measures to change this.
A Sleep-Friendly Bedtime Routine In the evening, you want to do things that facilitate internal heat loss. And research shows—paradoxically—that activities that increase your skin temperature do just that. How? Warming your skin hastens internal heat loss by dilating blood vessels close to the skin. This allows for the swift release of body heat and a lowering of core body temperature, in turn helping promote sleep. You can accomplish this by
• taking a hot shower, bath, or footbath
• sitting in a sauna • exercising early in the evening (and not too close to bedtime).
Sleeping Through the Night But warming the skin too much, as might occur if you’re under a down comforter all night, has the opposite effect: it increases your core body temperature and disrupts your sleep. If you’re prone to night sweats and frequent wake ups, you’ll want to find more subtle ways of managing your body temperature at night. Here are a few suggestions:
• Keep the temperature of your bedroom a few degrees lower than you’re comfortable with during the daytime. If during the day you set the thermostat at 68 degrees, bump it down to 64 or 65 degrees at night.
• Avoid electric blankets. Constantly adding heat to your body will eventually increase your core body temperature and likely wake you up.
• Comforters are a poor choice for the same reason. Yes, they heat you up nicely when you crawl in bed. But they, too, may lead to overheating and nighttime wake-ups. Replace these items with thinner blankets that allow for lesser temperature changes if you get too hot and have to throw one off. Changes in your routine and your bedroom can help you manage temperature sensitivities and get a sounder night’s sleep.
About the Author: Lois Maharg, author of The Savvy Insomniac: A Personal Journey through Science to Better Sleep, is a journalist who blogs about sleep and insomnia at http://www.thesavvyinsomniac.com.