Have you ever woken up in the morning or even in the middle of the night to find one leg hanging over the bed in a desperate attempt to escape the heat of the covers? If you are a sweatpants, socks on, bundled-up-under-the-covers type of sleeper, this may be particularly alarming to you. As it turns out, keeping one or both feet outside of your blanket at night can help you fall asleep faster and have a better night’s rest.
Spokesperson for the National Sleep Foundation, Natalie Dautovitch, recently spoke with New York Magazine about the foot-escaping-the-covers thing. Natalie’s research focuses on chronopsychology, which is how our routines and biological rhythms fluctuate, and what it means in terms of our health and well-being. She believes that the connection between popping a foot out from under the blanket and a good night’s sleep comes from the association of sleep with temperature.
Right before you fall asleep, your body temperature starts to drop. It’s at its coolest level once you fall into your deepest sleep — about one or two degrees below normal temperature. Some scientists believe that cooler temperatures cause drowsiness.
Our body temperature isn’t the only thing that changes when we hit the hay. During sleep, blood pressure drops, and physiological functions such as brainwave activity, breathing and heart rate also change. While these are part of a normal process, you can kick the temperature thing up a few notches with some of your own tricks. A hot shower, bath or a warm beverage can all promote temperature changes in your body. When you step out of a hot shower, your body temperature begins to cool rapidly, which triggers a sleepy feeling. A hot cup of tea before bed can have the same effects.
If you’ve ever woken up with one foot or both feet peeking out from under the covers, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. Natalie says, “I think it’s likely in service of trying to cool our bodies down because we’ve gotten too warm to sleep.” Natalie explained that she skin on the hands and feet contain specialized vascular structures that help with heat loss. They are perfectly designed to dissipate body heat. So it makes sense that sneaking a foot out would help cool the body down and lead to a better night’s sleep.
If you like to keep your extremities in tact under the blankets at night, a cooler room temperature or a fan could help you sleep better. The experts at the National Sleep Foundation suggest keeping your bedroom temperature somewhere around 65 degrees to get the best night’s sleep. If that sounds a little too cool for your liking, keep poking those toes out when you get a little too hot. Why not have the best of both worlds?
h/t: medical daily