Tips For Better Sleep: How Is Body Temperature Vital to an Adequate Sleep? (Thermoregulation Explained)

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Our environment plays a huge role when it comes to sleeping. It’s a fact that everyone can agree on. A hot or cold room can severely impact even a quick snooze, a cat nap or a power nap in between juggling deadlines. 

That’s why keeping room temperature  at a “perfect comfort level” is ideal. However, there’s more than just our comfortable spaces to consider here – we need to understand how our body temperature works.

You may have asked yourself the following questions from time to time:

  • Why do I sometimes feel hot when I sleep?
  • Why do we experience hot and cold body temperature swings?
  • Why do I sometimes wake up and feel cold in the middle of the night?
  • Why does my body feel warmer after a workout?

Well, all those questions above are actually related to thermoregulation. Like it or not, it does affect the quality of our sleep.

But worry not, we’ll help you understand this natural process and give you some practical tips that will ensure that your body feels just right before you head off to sleep.

Let’s take a look into each section to know how this process helps us to sleep well.

What Is Thermoregulation?

For starters, thermoregulation isn’t as complicated as it sounds. 

According to Merriam-Webster: 

Thermoregulation is the maintenance or regulation of temperature by a living organism. Err…it’s still a bit complex-looking. 

So, what we’re going to do is give examples to make us remember and understand this seemingly complex term:

How does an organism regulate their internal body temperature?

Well, there are two different strategies at work here. 

Ectotherms, or simply known as cold-blooded animals, interact with heat coming from the outside. They obtain their temperature from their surroundings. So, their core body temperature is the same as the room temperature. Fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates belong to this group.  This is why we see these fascinating animals climbing on a rock or basking under the sun – they simply want to feel a little warmer

However, the endotherms’ body temperature regulation is due to metabolic processes. It’s our classification along with birds, mammals, and some species of fishes. We can generate heat inside our bodies. So, if the surroundings have a cold temperature, then it’s close to ours also. If we’re in a warm environment, then our temperature is also close to that.  

As endotherms, or the opposite of cold-blooded animals, our internal body temperature will always be the same. Isn’t that quite an advantage? But here’s the catch: there is a need to consume more. So, it’s eating, eating, and more eating! 

Why? 

Because our food intake will be converted into energy to generate heat. Take this in mind, our process of producing heat needs plenty of potencies that it even includes when we’re at rest.  

Are we all on the same page now? Let’s continue!

Achieve Comfortable Temperature Through This Process

What regulates body temperature? 

Located on the lower surface of the brain is the hypothalamus. It may be small, but it continuously calculates the temperature of the body. Thus, allowing it to maintain within a degree or two of a 98.8 temp. Even so, two regions divide the body, making it not a straightforward task. One regulates core temperature while the other focuses on shell temperature. The former deals with the warmth of our inner organs like the heart, liver, and kidney. The latter deals with the heat of the skin tissue under the skin.  

In addition to the information above, we will be giving some examples below:

One of the factors that make our body thermoregulate is exercising. During exercise, your body releases heat. When you run, your temperature starts to go high until it reaches a set point. This body overheating results in the release of sweat. It’s one of the typical ways we react when we get too hot. Besides, our blood vessels will widen. Correspondingly, more blood will move to the surface away from the warm inner body. We then release this heat via heat radiation.

At the same time, if our body needs to warm up these two things happen: we get skin bumps and our hairs stand on end (think goosebumps) . 

Correspondingly, more blood will move to the surface away from the warm inner body. We then release this heat via heat radiation.

By the way, besides regulating body temperature our hypothalamus also plays a crucial role in:

  • The release of hormones
  • The maintenance of daily physiological cycles
  • The controlling of our appetite
  • The management of sexual habits
  • The regulation of emotional responses

For an organ so small, the hypothalamus  packs quite a punch.

Interpreting Body Temperature Changes for the Duration of the Day

What can make our body temperature change?

  • The type of activity
  • The hour of the day
  • Our age
  • Our gender
  • The type of food we’ve consumed
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Constant stress
  • Intake of certain pharmaceutical drugs
  • Smoking

Throughout our natural life, this will vary and won’t stay the same all day. Various factors cause our temperature to fluctuate . One of the reasons is when we put on our gym clothes and work out. Hence, being active makes us aware of our surroundings. Again, the hypothalamus plays a significant role in this spike. It pushes the morning baseline temperature up to 100.4 degrees for the much-needed exercise boost. As we’ve mentioned, body temperature swings up and down during the day. This shift is parallel to our metabolic activity level. Remarkably, this is quite noticeable at the time of the siesta. After that, our temperature further goes down to prepare us for the night’s rest. 

To sum it all up, we’re at our lowest temperature level when we wake up; then there’s a gradual climb wherein it reaches the peak in the late afternoon. 

That actually makes sense when you think about your day, right? It’s cooler at night and it’s much, much cooler in the morning, hence, your body temperature should be cooler, too. It might explain why it’s so difficult for us to wake up in the morning and get under the covers to get that extra “five more minutes”. But as you become more active during the day and move your body around, the human body naturally regulates its temperature accordingly.

Interpreting Body Temperature Changes Before and During Bedtime

Evenings sometimes bring about body temperature regulation problems. But these fluctuations are entirely natural. They are also part of our internal clock or the circadian rhythm which readies the body for sleep. Thanks to the hypothalamus, our core body temperature lowers in the evening preparing us for bed. But sometimes this organ can’t regulate body temperature effectively. This usually happens when our sleep environment becomes too cold or too warm. When this happens at night, then it can explicitly be irksome. 

Here are the factors we might have when we’re experiencing extreme body overheating while sleeping:

  • Certain illness or disease
  • Certain drugs
  • An infection such as a cold or fever
  • Being pregnant

With this in mind, a too hot or too freezing room temperature usually results in being uneasy all throughout the night. It’s because of thermoregulation being futile when you’re in the stage of deep sleep. 

Besides taking a hot bath, what should you do to have an ideal temperature before going to sleep? Here are some tips that we’ve gathered:

  • Use blinds during the daytime and close all the windows if the temperature is hotter outside.
  • The higher your apartment’s location inside a building, the hotter it becomes. Try to switch places with a friend.
  • If it’s possible to have a sleep-over with a relative who has a cooler place, then do it even if it’s just temporary.

Question:

During REM sleep, do we feel hot or cold?

You’d be surprised to know that it is actually neither of the two. We don’t sweat or shiver during this stage of sleep. As adults, we’ve duplicated an old feat which we’ve done during our infancy. When we were babies, we didn’t shiver or sweat even when awake. This was due to the brown adipose tissue (BAT), which is found on our body mass. However, not all of these fats disappear during adulthood. Medical experts say that i’s likely that, as adults, our bodies still work the same way..

The Ideal Temperature That We Can Easily Doze Off To

Nobody wants to toss and turn at night. But sometimes such a predicament might strike us. Isn’t it all too familiar? Being too warm will prevent us from having a sound sleep because sweating compels us to exert energy.

Here is our advice.

  • Choose the right beddings and comforters. Don’t choose non-breathable products such as polyester. The best choices for us here are cotton and linen. They have materials that won’t trap the warm air between our body and the bed itself. By choosing something made of breathable fibers, this will make us remain at an ideal temperature.
  • Never exercise prior to going to bed:Stick to a light routine such as walking before jumping the sack. A collection of heavy work out sets will increase your heart rate which will keep you awake.
  • Invest in a good mattress:Find a mattress that will not trap warm air between one’s body and the mattress itself. Stay clear from products that don’t promote airflow. Instead, find one that will give you optimal breathability not just through the night.
  • Don’t drink anything with caffeine: Be it in the afternoon or evening, never take any caffeinated liquids or it’ll cause unwanted alertness in the middle of the night.
  • Refrain from eating spicy foods:They are known to escalate body temperature.

By the way, 

Be sure that your choice of beddings is appropriate for the season. Swap them immediately when the season changes. A lightweight blanket is far more suitable to use than a massive comforter during the summer. But let’s be extra careful.We don’t know if a sudden cold snap may arrive. It’s best to prepare another blanket on top of that two-layered comforter.

We’ll talk more about the best mattresses in the next section.

 

For Those with Excessive Body Heat, Eyes Here!

We need to consider a lot of things when it comes to choosing a mattress. There are those with a tendency to direct the heat back at the sleepers. We don’t want that to happen to us. Here are the qualities of mattresses that make them top-rated when it comes to making us feel cool. Remember, always do a thorough groundwork when choosing a mattress. We can start by looking at websites and checking for reviews.

  • Find a mattress that displays stiffness: When you choose a soft mattress, this has the possibility of retaining more heat.
  • Stay away from hybrid types: Find a mattress that isn’t made of memory foam or latex hybrid.

Conclusion

Thermoregulation is simply the occurrence of natural fluctuations that happen in our bodies without us having to think about it. Which makes us say – isn’t the human body amazing?  Understanding why we easily get an elevated body temperature when we sleep, will help us suffer much less from sleep deprivation. This is why we need to take important steps before settling into bed. This includes the right way of exercising and proper eating before we go to bed

We have a few simple suggestions to make your body be prepared for sleeping:

  • Let us learn to adjust the activities we do before bedtime by giving our bodies  ample time before catching some well-deserved rest.. For example, if we’re going to have a shower, we can do it 2-3 hours prior to sleeping.
  • Enjoy silence. Stay away, if possible, from loud or repetitive noises. One of the best pieces of advice to follow is to use foam earplugs to isolate ourselves from being interrupted.
  • Invest in what helps you sleep better. Buy a good bed sheet or comforter that is made of natural fibers.
  • A bedroom is a place of rest. It’s not a place for gadgets and other gizmos.

If you have your own ways to deal with thermoregulation, let us know! We’d love to hear tips from you.

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