why does my body temperature get so hot at night
Bushfires are quite appropriately dominating our nationБs concerns during the current Australian heatwave. But for many, the struggle to sleep through soaring temperatures is a personal inferno that dominates conversation around offices and homes across the country. Sleep and body control of temperature ( ) are intimately connected. Core body temperature follows a 24-hour cycle linked with the sleep-wake rhythm. Body temperature decreases during the night-time sleep phase and rises during the wake phase. Sleep is most likely to occur when core temperature decreases, and much less likely to occur during the rises. Our hands and feet play a key role in facilitating sleep as they permit the heated blood from the central body to lose heat to the environment through the skin surface. The sleep hormone melatonin plays an important part of the complex loss of heat through the peripheral parts of the body. At sleep onset, core body temperature falls but peripheral skin temperature rises. But temperature changes become more complex during sleep as our temperature self-regulation varies according to sleep stage. has shown how environmental heat can disturb this delicate balance between sleep and body temperature. An ambient temperature of 22к or 23к Celsius is ideal. Any major variation in this leads to disturbance of sleep with reduced slow wave sleep (a stage of sleep where the brainБs electrical wave activity slows and the brain БrestsБ), and also results in less dreaming sleep (rapid eye movement or REM sleep).
Indeed during REM sleep, our ability to regulate body temperature is impaired so in a clever sort of way the body БavoidsБ this stage of sleep during extreme cold or heat. A heat wave may cause several nights of fragmented sleep with less slow wave and REM sleep. This will certainly cause a correct perception of bad, restless sleep with consequent negative effects on mood and alertness. In theory, it may also have subtle effects such as problems with complex memory retention, higher judgement (poorer decision making and increased risk-taking behaviour), blood pressure control and regulation of glucose in the body. The clear message is this: if youБre going to make some big decisions during a heatwave, sleep in a carefully controlled air-conditioned environment. But apart from air-conditioning, what can you do to sleep better during a heatwave? Sleeping in the lateral position (on your side) with less contact with the mattress may be good but the body tends to do this anyway during sleep, in response to rising temperatures. Cooling the central body with a wet cloth or towel makes sense.
A cool shower may also help. It is important to avoid doing anything too strenuous in the hours before bed-time as this will make it harder for the body temperature to fall during sleep. And when you wake up hot, sticky and irritated because you donБt have air-conditioning or believe such devices are environmentally unsound, remember those fighting bushfires - it could be a lot worse.
You re too hot might not be a complaint you d expect to hear too often in the bedroom, but with bedroom temperature being the, running at a different degree to your partner can be a serious sleep sucker. Professor Drew Dawson, CQ University sleep researcher, says there are a few factors cause some people to wrap themselves in a dressing gown and double doona while others sweat beside them. For starters, men tend to run hotter than women as a result of having more muscle mass, which generates more heat than fat. Body temperature is a reflection of metabolic rate if somebody pushes a lot of weights they will push their basal metabolic rate up and run hot, Professor Dawson told ninemsn Coach. Hormones can also play a part, with women s body temperature varying across the month. Changes in hormone levels in women across the menstrual cycle and at menopause also produce marked changes in [temperature regulation], Professor Dawson explains.
A lot of fertile women s partners will say, You re so hot you re virtually glowing in the dark at certain times of the month and many women in menopause and peri-menopause will pull blankets on and off and disrupt their partners enormously. Your body temperature will also vary throughout the night as you drift between different sleep states. Body temperature decreases during the night-time sleep phase and rises during the wake phase, Rob Grunstein, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Sydney, writes on. Sleep is most likely to occur when core temperature decreases, and much less likely to occur during the rises. Professor Dawson says complaints about hot bedfellows is a relatively new phenomenon. Man and woman sleeping together in the same bed is a relatively new phenomena in human history. For thousands of years in indigenous communities men and women didn t sleep together like out of post-Victorian England, he points out. Up until 150 years ago, nobody could afford to have one or two people sleeping alone in a room. The bed was the biggest purchase most families made after their house. It was very common for families to sleep with three or four people in a bed, top to toe. The idea of a couple in a bed in a room on their own as the setting for sexual behaviour is a relatively new phenomena.
Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of Scandinavian countries where Professor Dawson says people tend to sleep with two single beds pushed together. Each person has their own mattress, usually with a foam layer across the top and their own doona of different thicknesses to allow for different thermoregulatory dials, he explains. [Couples in Australia] usually have to compromise between what suits both of them, which usually means it suits neither. If your partner sleeps at a completely different temperature to you, Professor Dawson suggests using different bedding. With two people under the doona, they are both heating the air and if your partner heats the air more than you like it can cause a problem, he says. Use two doonas a hot one and a cold one that way the microclimate around one person s body doesn t influence the microclimate under the other doona. If you re squashed into a double bed, it might also be worth considering a king size that will enable you to move far enough apart to keep your temperature to yourself. Latex beds that don t breathe very well make people very hot, sleep scientist Dr Carmel Harrington told ninemsn Coach. Always make sure the layer closest to you is breathable and your sheets are made from natural fibres so they can wick away the temperature and sweat.
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