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How Sleeping Without Blankets Can Harm Your Sleep

December 13, 2021 8 min read

women Sleeping without blankets on a white bed

Sleeping Without Blankets can hinder your sleep and, most importantly, the quality of your sleep.

Did You Know: Sleep quality is often confused with the number of hours spent in bed, and although both are essential, they can be worlds apart.

How Sleeping Without Blankets Can Harm Your Sleep family sleeping under mudcloth blanket

why sleeping with a blanket is important

Blankets promote our overall sleep quality by providing comfort that ensures the necessary sleep duration.

 

Human characteristics such as our circadian rhythm, the production of serotonin and melatonin, and maintaining core body temperature during sleep all depend significantly on blankets or some form of body covering.

 

Sleeping without blankets in hot climates may appear to be the most logical response to prevent overheating; yet in retrospect, those who try this without thinking through why people need to cover themselves when they sleep usually end up compromising their quality of sleep.

 

Uninterrupted sleep is one of the leading factors that define sleep quality.

 

Most people don't pay significant attention to using the correct type of blanket for different seasons or the regulated indoor temperature of your home.

 

A person's sleep environment should only be created after considering all the factors that influence the quality of your sleep.

 

We look at why blankets are essential for sleep and look at ways to maintain or improve your sleep quality, especially during the hot summer months.  

sleeping without blanket child and mother under Basotho blanket

What is quality sleep?

Sleep quality is often confused with the number of hours spent in bed, and although both are essential, they can be worlds apart.

You can "sleep" for the usual 8 hours and feel exhausted and drained when you get up in the morning, but you can sleep for 8 hours and wake up feeling refreshed, recharged, and revitalized, ready to meet the day.

Sleep quality is measured using four factors that determine the actual quality of your sleep. Let's run through them so you'll be able to measure your sleep quality.

  1. Sleep latency: This is measured by the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep after you've slipped under the covers and closed your eyes. If you fall asleep within half an hour, it is a promising sign that your sleep quality is good.
  2. Sleep waking: The number of times you wake up during the night. If you wake up once or not, your sleep quality is considered good.
  3. Wakefulness: This might not be easy to measure because it's the length of time you are awake while asleep. You'll be sleeping but will be aware of your surroundings, and you may have conscious thoughts during this time. Wakefulness should not amount to more than 20 minutes during any night sleep session to be regarded as not influencing your quality of sleep.
  4. Sleep efficiency: This is the amount of time you are asleep during a night sleep session. It should ideally be above 85% of the time you spend sleeping in bed.

To calculate your sleep quality, you'll need to use the values in minutes of the four listed variables.

Determine your actual sleep duration by taking your total time in bed with your eyes closed, ready to sleep, and subtract the time it took you to fall asleep as well as the time spent awake during the night.

Next, divide your answer (actual sleep time) by the total time in bed, then multiply your answer by 100. Your answer will be your sleep efficiency percentage. 

sleeping without blankets girl waking up refreshed sitting on side of bed

How do blankets contribute to sleep quality?

Just before we fall asleep, our core body temperature, which is linked to our circadian rhythm, will begin decreasing.

 

This is a natural process that helps the body conserve energy and redirect some energy to systems in the body that still have work to do, like the digestive system.

Body temperature during sleep drops

The body will continue decreasing its temperature for roughly 5 to 6 hours during an 8 to 9-hour sleep period at tiny increments before it settles. 

 

During this sleep period, we will need some form of covering over our body to prevent waking up from being too cold.

 

The opposite is true; if we cover ourselves completely with blankets, body heat will get trapped under the covers, which will wake us up because we are getting too hot.

Thermoregulating blankets and fibers are the best for a good night sleep

For this reason, thermoregulating blankets and sheets are the best options to maintain the right sleep temperature or the goldilocks temperature range if you prefer using an analogy.

 

Another important aspect about sleep and blankets is that we are conditioned from birth to snuggle up under a blanket when we ready ourselves for sleep.

 

Babies get wrapped in blankets, children get tucked into bed, and as adults, we continue the habit of covering ourselves when we sleep.

 

Now, you know how difficult it is to break a habit, and I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "cold turkey."

 

Well, when we try and fall asleep without a covering, be it a blanket, sheet, or both, our brain will keep letting us know that something is missing, and it should be resolved before any sleep is possible.

 

I'm sure you are aware that the brain is responsible for sending signals to the body to increase the production of serotonin and melatonin, which are "feel good" hormones that help us relax and promote quality sleep.

 

Without your trusted blankie, these messages may have trouble getting through. 

 

It's not just how warm or cold you get during the night that dictates whether you'll have a good night's rest or not.

sleeping without blanket baby under Basotho blanket

Other environmental factors play a roll in how well you sleep

There are other factors like the darkness of the room, our surrounding noises like the 4th of July fireworks show, or perhaps just a noisy neighbor.

 

Even the sound of the fan you use in your bedroom to cool the room down may appear amplified and will interrupt your sleep periodically throughout the night.

The right bedding is really important to a good nights sleep

Most people think and believe that wool blankets are too hot for summer. This is because we all relate to the term "winter woollies"; however, if you look at the thermoregulating characteristics of pure wool, you'll understand why sheep can graze in an open field under a blazing all day not suffer heat exhaustion.

 

Wool is nature's best temperature-regulating fiber, and its moisture-wicking ability helps regulate our sleep temperature. 

 

I mentioned wool because, for some "winter woollies" reason, it is placed at the end of the scale reserved for things that keep us warm in cold weather, period. But…

 

A thin wool blanket has more benefits that contribute to quality sleep than any other blanket of the same thickness because it has superior characteristics.

 

Ever wondered why the Basotho wear the same wool blankets throughout the year? Because it keeps them warm when cold and cool when hot. It's not magic, just the beauty of nature at play.

 

All bedding should be breathable, like wool and other natural fabrics. 100% cotton sheets may wrinkle easier, but they are such a great asset to sleeping more comfortably for much longer. 

 

Purchasing the correct bedding to suit your sleep requirements is a personal choice. Not all people are the same; some suffer from night sweats, others have insomnia or sensory-related issues, while some get instantly cold as soon as they fall asleep.

 

The bedding you use must complement the type of sleeper you are and address the sleep issues you're facing.

 

This can be an expensive exercise, but it will be well worth the effort and sacrifice concerning the quality of sleep that results from your investment.

sleeping without blankets couple on bed under a kuba cloth throw

a few great sleeping blanket and throw oprtions

In the meantime here are some ways to positively affect your sleep

In the meantime, while you study your sleep pattern and research what bedding will suit you best, I have a few hacks that may help improve your sleep quality.

  1. Exercise is one of the best way to positively affect your sleep

    Your general health and wellbeing will always benefit from exercise, even if you only walk a few blocks in the late afternoon. Training is necessary to burn stored energy and fat. It also helps to maintain regular blood flow (circulation) throughout your body and keeps your muscles toned in the process. Sweating during a rigorous exercising session serves as a means of detoxing your body. Toxins that build up in your glands and the rest of your body are purged through your skin when you sweat. Exercise promotes relaxation, and if you do daily activities, you will find that it becomes a lot easier to fall asleep at night.
  2. Diet has a huge affect on your sleep

    Lay off the fast foods a little and eat healthier. Drink clean water and ease up on fizzy drinks and alcohol. Develop an eating routine that promotes better sleep. Don't eat or snack for at least two hours before going to bed. By eating just before bed, you are building a small furnace in your stomach that will burn for hours and produce a lot of body heat which may end up interrupting your sleep. Diet goes hand in hand with exercise, and just focusing on these two things may make a drastic difference in your sleep quality, translating to a healthier, happier you.
  3. Cooling down before bed

    It's a hot summer day, and you're not looking forward to slipping under the covers because you know you'll start sweating even if you lie on top of your bed. This is where you have to fight fire with fire, and a hot shower before bed will do the trick. A hot shower will rapidly heat your body, but the remaining water on your skin will evaporate and cool your skin super-fast, which cues your body for sleep. It also serves to trigger the decrease of your core body temperature to your optimum sleep temperature, and your light, breathable bedding will help with temperature regulation. 
  4. Allow time to climatize to bedding

    Changing from winter bedding to summer bedding must be a gradual process. It allows your body to transition from thicker warmer blankets to lighter cooler blankets. Believe it or not, the weight difference in blankets can cause sleep interruptions, so it's advisable to reduce your blanket weight over a few nights. People that use both a blanket and throw during the colder months can reduce the layers and then switch them around, so there is no need to purchase transitional blankets.
  5. Cooling weighted blankets and cooling pillows

    If the heat is unbearable and you can't get a decent night's sleep, then it's worth looking at cotton cooling weighted blankets and a cooling pillow to match. Both will keep your body comfortably cool and maintain your optimum sleep temperature.
  6. Stick your feet out your blanket covering to keep you cool 

    Most of us subconsciously do an easy hack is to stick our feet out from under the covers. We may even stick a whole leg out if we're getting too hot. Exposing your feet is said to lower your body temperature, and to improve this, even more, you may want to soak your feet in cold water for a few minutes before bed. 

little girl in a hammock with ndebele throw

A few final thoughts on how sleeping without blanket can harm sleep

People do sleep without blankets, but many of us struggle psychologically with the absence of their blankie, and the adjustment robs them of much-needed quality sleep.

 

To remedy this, it is best to purchase suitable blankets and other bedding that suit your sleep requirements.

 

After you have read this article, you will agree with me that there are several reasons why people struggle with sleep, but these can be reduced to two things; lifestyle choices that affect your health and wellbeing, and poor bed and bedding choices that do not promote quality sleep.

 

You can systematically address these concerns by beginning with your health, and while you are busy exercising and eating healthy, you can start researching the many bedding accessory options.

With bedding, it's always best to first look at natural fabrics like wool and cotton. Pay attention to the benefits and characteristics of the different materials.

 

Your research will undoubtedly improve the overall quality of your life, starting with quality sleep and your newfound admiration for blankets.

sleeping without blankets black and white African mali mudcloth on bed in modern home

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