Set your thermostat for better sleep

Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health risks both mentally and physically. Not getting enough sleep can lead to depression, irritability, mood swings, cardiovascular disease, slower reaction times, impaired concentration, impaired decision making, decreased test scores, impaired immune system, and more.

Sleep deprivation affects millions of Americans and as with most things, our ability to get quality sleep decreases as we age. In the following article from the New York Times avoiding caffeine, drinking milk before bed time, and other lifestyle changes are not the only ways to increase ones quality of sleep.

Studies have found that in general, the optimal temperature for sleep is quite cool, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. For some, temperatures that fall too far below or above this range can lead to restlessness.

Temperatures in this range, it seems, help facilitate the decrease in core body temperature that in turn initiates sleepiness. A growing number of studies are finding that temperature regulation plays a role in many cases of chronic insomnia. Researchers have shown, for example, that insomniacs tend to have a warmer core body temperature than normal sleepers just before bed, which leads to heightened arousal and a struggle to fall asleep as the body tries to reset its internal thermostat.

For normal sleepers, the drop in core temperature is marked by an increase in temperature in the hands and feet, as the blood vessels dilate and the body radiates heat. Studies show that for troubled sleepers, a cool room and a hot-water bottle placed at the feet, which rapidly dilates blood vessels, can push the internal thermostat to a better setting.

  

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