Blasting the air conditioner (AC) in the summer while sleeping cozily beneath a plush, heavy blanket or two may seem crazy to some; but, for others…it’s just what the doctor ordered for a good night’s rest. Many people love sleeping under heavy blankets while running the AC in the heart of summer. They’re often criticized for wasting energy, but scientific evidence endorses this paradoxical trend.
Studies highlight four reasons why some individuals dare to sleep under a heavy blanket in the summer with the air conditioner on. This rationale will help the guilty indulgers as well as the bemused pessimists. Who knows, by the end of this article you may be wondering if you should invest in a heavy / weighted blanket, too.
1. Sleep aid and relaxation purposes
Sleeping under a heavy blanket with the AC going strong has a calmative effect. The added weight signals the brain to release chemicals like serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. They operate as neurotransmitters regulating mood, sleep and sensory perception. These calming substances have sedative, comforting properties that incite relaxation throughout the body and resolve insomnia discomforts.
Heavy blankets supply natural, safe and effective therapy for remarkable slumbering in very cool environments. The core body temperature decreases and summons the sandman with unrestrained yawns.
“This decline in body temperature helps you fall asleep, stay asleep, and cycle appropriately through the nightly sleep stages,” explains Dr. Alice Hoagland, Director of Insomnia Services at the Unity Sleep Disorders Center in Rochester, N.Y.
The heavy blanket becomes an all-natural sleep aid as it evenly distributes pressure throughout your body. It feels like a firm hug making you feel secure, protected, tranquil and grounded.
Psychology Today remarks, “This is the reason many people like to sleep under a comforter even in the summer. Better sleep improves concentration, productivity, relationships, job performance and health.”
Weighted blankets replicate deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS). Their delicate touches excite the nervous system; the firm but gentle touches calm it down. DPTS loosens your muscles and nerves, getting rid of your stress. This is the same effect as when your mom took you in her arms, hugged you snugly, and patted you on your back creating a soothing, sheltered, serene peacefulness.
2. Help to overcome or better manage known health concerns
Whether using them in the summer with air conditioning or in the fall, winter or spring, weighted blankets bring much needed relief. Many health issues are positively contained by their usage. For both children and adults, heavy blankets help improve sensory disorders, nervousness, stress, awareness and focus. They also supply relief for military men and women in War Zones, as well as those who have returned home apprehensive, wounded, and demented.
Heavy blankets are reported to significantly assist with memory maintenance, detoxification processes, treatments for various illnesses, the alleviation of anxiety (validated by several studies), depression, PTSD trauma, aggression, chronic pain, paranoia and bi-polar neurological problems.
Employees dealing with work related stress and shift work changes, people battling night terrors, and mania have reported relief from symptoms as a direct result of sleeping under heavy blankets. Other health concerns that are being overcome or better managed via the usage of heavy blankets include:
- ADD/ADHD Spectrum Disorder
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy (CP)
- Downs Syndrome
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, (FASD)
- Jet Lag
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peri-menopause and Menopausal Symptoms
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD, PDD-NOS)
- Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
- Rheumatoid arthritis joint pain
- Seizure Disorder
- Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
- Sleep Apnea
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
3. Peace and comfort when sleeping in the room with someone who prefers cold temperatures
Spouses, roommates and even siblings have different predispositions when it comes to body temperatures. The plot thickens when a wife is cold-natured and her husband prefers only a thin sheet in a 65 degree room. One roommate likes the room frigid; the other one likes it roasting. It’s of dire necessity to quickly find a joint resolution for these conflicts in order to preserve good relationships.
Body temperature is regulated by an internal thermostat located in the brain – the hypothalamus. Various dynamics govern whether that thermostat will go up or go down, i.e., the use of kidney, blood-thinning, diabetes and cancer medication, low blood pressure; poor blood circulation. The amount of muscle mass is a factor. Nearly one third of your body heat is generated by muscle. Women tend to have less muscle mass than men.
Age makes a difference, too. Women are affected by hot flashes resulting from menopause. Men tend to incur circulation maladies sooner than women.
Per Don Young of the International Facility Management Association, “Women tend to have more constricted blood vessels, which places blood closer to the surface of the skin, which means you’d be cooler and men would be just the opposite.”
So gender, age, physical condition, and personal preferences influence how the hypothalamus operates. The best solution is to learn to cope in a way that serves the greatest good for all concerned. Because of the numerous benefits, sleeping under a heavy blanket even in the summer with the air conditioner running is an awesome resolution. A weighted blanket chases the chill, fretfulness and tension away.
4. Weight loss and weight management
Is sleeping in a cold bedroom really better for you? Indeed it is based upon recent innovative research. Certain scientists have discovered that sleeping in colder temperatures raises your metabolic rate and improves your overall health. Experts believe “brown fat” increases in colder bodies. Brown fat (often called “good fat) produces 300 times more heat than any other organ in the body which in turn causes calories to burn off rapidly, and dispose of excess blood sugar.
Scientific findings by the National Institutes of Health, based upon a test done under controlled temperature conditions support the theory that sleeping in a cold room has weight loss and weight management rewards.
Dr. Francesco S. Celi, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Chairman, reported that “These were all healthy young men to start with, but just by sleeping in a colder room, they gained metabolic advantages that could, over time, lessen their risk for diabetes and other metabolic problems.”
No wonder people love sleeping beneath heavy blankets with the air conditioner on in the summer!
- A cool room helps you to keep your head nice and cool which is favorable for a good night’s sleep. Research suggests that you reduce your room temperature to 65 degrees and cuddle up under a few layers…or a heavy blanket.
- Heavy blankets should not be used by persons recuperating from surgery, experiencing cardiovascular problems, temperature control issues or respiratory challenges unless approved by a physician or occupational therapist.
- The suggested blanket weight for adults is 13 to 33 pounds according to your personal preference and body weight. Studies by scientists in the United States affirm that “the heavier the blanket you use, the easier it is to fall asleep”.
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Featured photo credit: Glamour Magazine via glamour.com