Do Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep?

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Studies
have found that in general, the optimal temperature for sleep is
quite cool, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures that
fall too far below or above this range can lead to restlessness.

Temperatures
in this range help facilitate the decrease in core body temperature
that in turn initiates sleepiness. A growing number of studies are
finding that temperature regulation plays a role in many cases of
chronic insomnia.

Researchers
have shown, for example, that insomniacs tend to have a warmer core
body temperature than normal sleepers just before bed, which leads
to heightened arousal and a struggle to fall asleep.

For troubled
sleepers, a cool room and a hot-water bottle placed at the feet,
which rapidly dilates blood vessels and therefore actually helps
lower core temperature, can push the internal thermostat to a better
setting.

Sources:

New
York Times August 3, 2009

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

America is
a nation of insomniacs. At least 25 percent of Americans say they
frequently have problems getting a complete and restful night’s
sleep and at least 40 million Americans suffer each year from chronic,
long-term sleep disorders.

Considering
human beings spend about one-third of their lives asleep, you’d
think we’d all be pros at it! In reality, insomnia is the most
common sleep complaint in the United States and about 30–40
percent of adults have insomnia symptoms
in any given year!

This is why
I absolutely love sharing simple tips like the one above, as giving
some thought to your bedroom temperature may help you get a good
night’s sleep.

Why Temperature
is So Important to Sleep

Thermoregulation
– your body’s heat distribution system – is strongly linked
to sleep cycles. Even lying down increases sleepiness by redistributing
heat in your body from the core to the periphery.

When you sleep,
your body’s internal temperature actually drops to its lowest
level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists
believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep,
since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.

This is also
why taking a warm bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime may also
help you sleep; it increases your core body temperature, and when
it abruptly drops when you get out of the bath, it signals your
body that you are ready for sleep.

While there’s
no set consensus as to what temperature will help you sleep the
best, in most cases any temperature above
75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 54 degrees
will interfere with
your sleep.

Once you’re
within that range, many factors can influence which temperature
is best for you including, of course, your choice of pajamas and
bedding. Most people, however, will find they sleep best by keeping
the temperature in their bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F and
perhaps even a bit lower than that.

Interestingly,
while a cool room and a lower core temperature may help you sleep
better, cold hands and feet will not. Because blood flow is a prime
method of distributing heat evenly throughout your body, if your
extremities are cold it could be a sign of poor blood flow, which
results in sleeplessness.

The solution
for this is simple: put on a pair of warm socks or place a hot water
bottle near your feet.

Get this
Wrong and You Will INCREASE Your Risk of Cancer

Light. Or
more specifically, making sure there’s none of it in your bedroom.

Your
sleeping patterns are actually governed by light
, and any source
of light – even one as tiny as the green glow from your clock
radio – could be interfering with your ability to sleep, and
more importantly, your long term health and risk of developing cancer.

While it’s
typically thought that your biological
clock
is what tells you when it’s time to wake up or go
to sleep, light and dark signals actually control your biological
clock. To get more specific, a part of your brain called the Suprachiasmatic
Nucleus (SCN) – a group of cells in your hypothalamus –
controls your biological clock. And the cells that make up your
SCN respond to light and dark signals.

Light actually
travels through your eye’s optic nerve to your SCN, where it
signals your body’s clock that it’s time to wake up. Light
also signals your SCN to initiate other processes associated with
being awake, such as raising your body temperature and producing
hormones like cortisol.

Meanwhile,
when your eyes signal to your SCN that it’s dark outside, your
body will begin to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep
and radically decreases your risk of cancer. There are many studies
on this powerful association. The more your sleep is disrupted by
light pollution, the lower your melatonin levels and the greater
your risk of developing cancer becomes.

Melatonin
is secreted primarily in your brain and at night it triggers a host
of biochemical activities, including a nocturnal reduction in your
body’s estrogen levels. It’s thought that chronically decreasing
your melatonin production at night – as occurs when you’re
exposed to nighttime light – increases your risk of developing
cancer.

So PLEASE
make sure you sleep in a pitch-dark room. If you need a light to
go to the bathroom at night then use a red flashlight as that is
a wavelength that will allow you to see but will not interfere with
melatonin production.

The moment
your body sees the smallest bit of non-red light at night, it will
virtually shut off the production of melatonin, and don’t think
that popping a pill will counteract this. Remember it is FAR better
to let your body produce the perfect amount of melatonin rather
than you second guess it and swallow a pill.

Personally,
I sleep in a room that is so dark it’s even pitch black at
noon. You can achieve this in your own bedroom by:

  • Installing
    blackout drapes
  • Closing
    your bedroom door if light comes through it, and even putting
    a towel along the base to prevent light from seeping in
  • Getting
    rid of your electric clock radio (or at least covering it up at
    night)
  • Avoiding
    night lights of any kind

  • Keeping
    all light off at night (even if you get up to go to the bathroom)
    – this includes the TV!

What Else
Can You do to Improve Your Sleep?

Americans
get about 25 percent less sleep than they did a century ago –
and this isn’t just a matter of having less energy.

Too little
sleep impacts your levels of thyroid and stress hormones, which
in turn can affect your memory and immune system, your heart and
metabolism, and much more. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to:

So how much
sleep do you need to be getting? Generally speaking, adults need
to get between six and nine hours of sleep a night. But there are
definitely exceptions. Some people can, in fact, function well on
as few as five hours a night, while others need up to 10.

You may also
need more sleep during times of illness or emotional stress, or
during the winter months. And pregnant women often need several
hours more sleep than usual during their first three months of pregnancy.

A good rule
of thumb to follow is that if you feel tired when you wake up, you
probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Most of us have set times
that we need to wake up in the morning, so getting more sleep, for
most of us, means going to bed earlier.

If you find
that you’re not waking up feeling refreshed, it’s a good
idea to devote some attention to revamping your sleeping habits.
I’ve put together a list of practical solutions to help you
do this in my 33
Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep
, which include:

  • Avoid before-bed
    snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood
    sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low
    (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back
    asleep.
  • Sleep in
    complete darkness or as close as possible. If there is even the
    tiniest bit of light in your room it can disrupt your circadian
    rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin.
  • No TV right
    before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the bedroom or even
    out of the house, completely. It is too stimulating to your brain
    and it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • Check
    your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs)
    . These can
    disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin,
    and may have other negative effects as well.
  • Get to
    bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly our adrenals,
    do a majority of their recharging or recovering between the hours
    of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
  • Avoid alcohol.
    Although alcohol will make people drowsy, the effect is short
    lived and people will often wake up several hours later, unable
    to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from falling into
    the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing.
  • Eat a high-protein
    snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan
    need to produce melatonin and serotonin.
  • Address
    emotional hurdles to sleep using the Meridian
    Tapping Technique (MTT)
    . MTT can help balance your body’s
    bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that
    are contributing to the insomnia at a very deep level. The results
    are typically long lasting and the improvement is remarkably rapid.

December
21, 2009

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