Do you ever wake up during the night feeling too hot? Do you feel as if you’ve been baking in the sun, even though you know for sure that you’ve been soundly asleep under the covers on your bed? If so, you’re not alone—many people experience their body temperature rising when they’re sleeping. In this article, we’ll explore why this phenomenon occurs and what can be done to cool off while trying to get a good night’s rest.
1. The Science Behind Sleep and Body Heat
In order to understand how sleep affects and is affected by body heat, we must first take a look at the science behind sleep and body temperature. As it turns out, the two are deeply intertwined.
The primary relationship between sleep and body heat is one of a cooling process. When you start to drift off to sleep, your body temperature begins to dip. This dip occurs due to the brain releasing a hormone called melatonin, which signals to the body that it needs to start to cool off in order to create an environment more conducive for sleeping. Research has found that the ideal sleep temperature for many people is 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to the natural cooling process that occurs during sleep, the body also expels heat to the environment by way of expelled breath and sweat. As a result, if the room temperature is too high, it can cause more heat to be expelled than normal, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Lastly, the sweating that occurs during sleep is part of a natural cycle that helps to regulate body temperature. Sweating helps to cool the body and can also aid in the body’s release of toxins that accumulate throughout the day.
- Melatonin is the hormone released by the brain to signal the cooling process for sleep.
- Ideal sleep temperature is considered to be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat exchange occurs between the body and the environment by expelled breath and sweat.
- Sweating helps to cool the body and also release toxins.
2. Taking the Heat During the Night
Losing sleep during the night can be a real headache. No one likes to wake up feeling groggy and unrested, but sometimes the heat of summer makes it inevitable. Here are some essential tips for taking the heat at night:
- Choose the right fabric: Fabrics like silk, bamboo, or those with a high thread count will help to keep you cooler during the night. Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics over those that are heavier and trap the heat.
- Smart use of bedding: Keep extra blankets and bedding to a minimum and consider using sheets specifically designed for hot weather. Cotton sheets can help keep you cooler by absorbing moisture, while flannel or synthetic fabrics are less breathable.
When creating a cool sleeping environment, it’s important to think about all the elements that can keep the air circulating. Use ceiling or desk fans to create a cooling breeze in your room, or opt for an air conditioner or portable AC unit if the room is too hot. Ensure your windows are left open to allow for air circulation.
Focusing on your own self-cooling during the night can also be helpful. Put a cool, damp cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck while you sleep. Consider taking a cold shower before bed, or just keep a bowl of cold water by your bed and dip your hands and feet into it throughout the night.
Finally, if all else fails, get up and move to a cooler area of the house. If that isn’t an option, try going outside or to the local pool and going for a quick dip. The cooler air and water will instantly cool you down.
3. Unravelling the Root Causes of Heat Increase
The world is currently facing an immense and dangerous amount of global warming. Understanding the root causes of this heat increase is a complex issue requiring careful attention. Luckily, there is evidence that the initiative to solve the puzzle is getting underway.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane, have risen significantly throughout recent decades. These gases trap heat from the Sun; as the levels rose, so did the temperature. This was further exacerbated by the related effects of deforestation which destroyed natural carbon sinks that could have easily absorbed the greenhouse gases.
Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
Substances harmful to the ozone layer, such as CFCs, have also been known to have a negative effect on the environment. These chemicals, released from aerosol cans and refrigerators, all bring down the ozone layer which, in turn, lowers the amount of solar radiation reflected away from the Earth.
Changes in Cloud Cover
A lesser-known effect of the rapidly increasing temperature is the effect of cloud cover changes. Certain aerosols and pollutants that are often released into the air during industrial processes, give clouds more reflective, bright properties. This, in turn, causes less solar radiation to be absorbed by the Earth, leading to a warmer climate overall.
Another factor that could potentially play a role in the global warming epidemic is the farming practices used. Certain activities such as ploughing can lead to increased soil erosion. This can result in decreased storm runoff and the release of more carbon dioxide.
The diversified causes of global warming are deeply interweaved and discovering them requires careful consideration. At the same time, it can lead to some powerful solutions!
4. Lying in Bed? Don’t Sweat It!
Too exhausted for anything else? Lying in bed may sound like a waste of time, but it can actually be beneficial for your well-being and productivity.
- Take a break. If your to-do list is ever growing and your energy is running low, taking a few minutes to stretch out and relax can prove to be a deep mental relief.
- Refresh your thinking. Lying down can provide an unexpected improvement in your ability to focus and process information. This pause can open up your brain to intuitive thinking and creative problem solving.
- Increased energy. A surprise discovery of taking a break on the bed is that afterwards, you may find yourself feeling unexpectedly energized.
- Better sleep. Lying down can help to reduce stress and anxiety, factors that can disturb sleep and lead to insomnia. Taking a few moments of “bed break” can help regulate your hormones and make it easier to fall asleep.
So if you have ten minutes to spare, instead of mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, why not hit the mattress? Taking a few moments of rest during your day may end up being just what you need, contributing to better mental and physical health.
5. The Remedy: Cooling Down in Bed
When you can’t control the external temperature, it’s time to focus on how to keep your own body temperature low to cool down. There are plenty of ways to do it:
- Take a cold shower or bath
- Drink lots of cooling liquids like mint tea
- Dress in light-weight and loose-fitting clothes like cotton or linen fabrics
- Eat cooling foods like cucumber, watermelon, or coconut water
But, when all else fails, there is one sure-fire way to cool your body temperature down: getting into bed!
Lower the ceiling fan and blankets. A low ceiling fan will circulate cool air all night long. If the fan isn’t enough, throw off the blankets to prevent being too hot. And, go all-in with this remedy by selecting your bed sheets thoughtfully. Consider using linen or cotton sheets instead of heavier fabrics like wool or velvet as they could make the situation even worse.
Once you’ve set up the bed and lowered the temperature, it’s time to get in and relax. Think of it this way: if you’re feeling too hot, it’s time to beat the heat with a cool bed!
6. How to Maintain a Comfortable Sleep Temperature
Tip 1: Choose Appropriate Bedding
The right bedding can make a lot of difference in helping you maintain a comfortable sleep temperature. Choose a comforter or duvet that is breathable and lightweight. Natural fabrics like cotton and wool are great materials for keeping your body warm in winter and cool in summer. Additionally, look for sheets that are made of anti-microbial fabrics to keep away dust mites and other allergens.
Tip 2: Use a Mattress Topper
A mattress topper is an excellent tool to maintain a comfortable sleep temperature. Depending on the season, you can choose a topper with different levels of insulation. Memory foam and latex mattress toppers are breathable and highly comfortable in all seasons. Plus, they don’t absorb body heat like cotton or other fabrics, so you don’t risk feeling hot and sweaty during the night.
Tip 3: Block Out Sunlight
Sunlight can make your room too hot for comfortable sleeping. Invest in light-blocking curtains or blinds and make sure you open/close them when necessary to maintain the right temperature. Additionally, you can buy a sun reflector to place outside the windows so they don’t heat up your room.
Tip 4: Use an Air Conditioner
When summer gets too hot to bear, you may need a cooling system to maintain a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Invest in an air conditioner and use it at night to keep your bedroom as cool as needed. Remember to maintain a temperature of about 18ᵒC if you want the perfect climate for a good night’s sleep.
7. Making Sleep and Comfort a Priority
We need sleep to restore and refresh our bodies and minds, as well as build our immunity and help in reducing inflammation. So, it’s important to do whatever we can to make comfortably catching some Z’s a priority. When our sleep takes a back seat other aspects of our health can suffer as well.
Creating positive sleep rituals are crucial for energy and well-being. Have a consistent bed time and wake time. Shut off digital devices in advance and turn on calming background noise like rainfall or soothing music. Consider incorporating a meditation or prayer practice before bed. Another key to better sleep is to make sure your bedroom is comfortable for sleep. Invest in black out and room-darkening shades. Wash sheets and pillowcases in warmer water.
Below are some simple tips to make sleep an integral part of your health routine:
- Invest in comfortable bedding: Investing in comfortable bedding like a new mattress or down comforter can make all the difference for falling asleep quickly and sleeping through the night.
- Create the right temperature: Too hot or too cold forces your body to work harder which can take away from the quality of sleep.
- Limit caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant so it’s best to avoid it in the late afternoon and early evening.
- Set the right environment: Make sure your bedroom is in pitch darkness after you’ve gone to bed. Make sure it’s quiet or dim down the noise with a white noise machine.
When sleeping is a priority, it won’t be long until you feel more refreshed, energized and vitalized. Taking the necessary precautions to make sure a good night’s sleep is possible can have lasting effects on your health.
So, the next time you find yourself experiencing an unexpected heat wave in the middle of the night, you’ll at least have some idea of the cause! Whether it’s the metabolism of the night, a trapped pocket of air in the sheets, or a heightened emotive state, your body’s response to night-time rest is more complex than you may have realized.
Rested and better informed, you’ll be better equipped to take on the day with a better night’s sleep.