Why we need blankets to sleep, even when it's hot
TORNOTO – No one likes tossing and turning at night, but one sleep expert says getting the right blanket can stop that.
Sleep consultant Alanna McGinn told CTV’s Your Morning that there is fairly documented science of why we need blankets to sleep – even when it’s summertime.
Quite simply, she said, using a blanket helps us to deal with our lower nightly core body temperatures. It also increases the serotonin and melatonin levels in our brain which helps relax us and fall asleep.
“Our circadian rhythm – that’s our natural sleep rhythm – is a huge driver for our sleep,” McGinn said. “It starts to lower our core body temperature at around 2 p.m.”
The body’s natural temperatures continue to drop through the evening; this happens later for night owls. But the problem is that it can make people feel too cold. That’s when having a nice blanket can help warm us up.
And in the past several years, a cottage industry has popped up revolving around weighted blankets which build upon another benefit of blankets.
“The firm pressure of the blankets activates the nervous system and releases serotonin – a chemical in the body that helps us feel calm and also helps to release melatonin, which is a natural sleep hormone that helps prepare us to sleep,” McGinn said.
BLANKETS ARE PART OF OUR NIGHTTIME ROUTINE
But she also pointed out that humans are “creatures of habit,” so there’s a “huge association” to when most people used blankets as children. “We’re cuing to our body (and) cuing to our brain that it’s time to go to sleep because you got the blanket on,” she said.
McGinn says “we sleep better cooler” and that the ideal room temperature hovers between 19 to 23 Celsius.
She also recommended that “hot sleepers” or “night sweaters” not sleep naked but instead use lighter, breathable fabrics when choosing blankets, bed sheets and pajamas. These fabrics can include flax, cotton or even bamboo.
McGinn even suggested that these groups use lighter-coloured blankets which absorb less light, and added that these sleepers should also consider cooling pads or blankets.
“It’s a lot of work,” she admitted, adding that everyone needs to find the right method for them to get a good night’s rest.