using comforter can make you too hot at nightPet peeve: I turn down the bed covers in my hotel room only to discover that the bedding consists of sheets and a comforter, without a blanket in sight.

Maybe the hotel management assumes that adjustments in room temperature will allow this arrangement to work. But no matter whether I turn the heat up or down, my next several hours will be a challenge: Sheets + comforter = a comfortless night. I’m either roasting with the comforter on or freezing without it.

Bedding Sold Around Town

Room and body temperature have a huge impact on my sleep, yet the evidence suggests this temperature sensitivity is probably not the norm.

“We sell more comforters than blankets,” said Rob, the sales manager at Sleep Number, an upscale mattress and bedding store not far from my house.

I believe it. At Bed Bath & Beyond, the big box store just across the parking lot, an entire quadrant of the store contains comforters packaged in suitcase-size plastic cases. A “Complete Bed Set” features a comforter, sheets, a bed skirt and two shams. Just think: I could set myself up for nights of roasting and freezing in my very own home!

The blanket section of the store, by contrast, is about the size of a 12-by-12-foot room. It’s labeled “Quilts and Coverlets.” Are blankets becoming passé?

I hope not. Blankets of different weights and thicknesses have been my salvation when it comes to navigating the temperature changes my body goes through at night. But before I go further, let me explain:

Temperature Fluctuations at Night

The best room temperature for sleep is a little lower than is comfortable during the day, sleep experts say, and I’m a believer. The hundred-degree heat I tried to sleep through in southern India was impossible. If it’s true overall that insomniacs have trouble down-regulating body temperature, then I am Specimen Number One.

But body temperature also fluctuates during the course of the night. From a temperature high in the evening, the core body temperature in humans drops to its nadir a few hours before normal wake-up time, then rapidly starts to climb again.

I can’t count the times I’ve woken up early in the morning to a body that’s sweaty and boiling. (If this is night sweats, then I’ve had them all my life.) Being able to peel off the covers in layers—going from hot to cooler rather than from hot to cold—gives me a better way of adjusting to my body temperature and a better chance of falling back to sleep.

So down with comforters, I say, and up with blankets! Temperature fluctuations may be more of a factor in insomnia than we think.

Does anyone else experience body temperature issues at night? How do you manage them?

Posted by Lois Maharg, The Savvy Insomniac

Lois Maharg has worked with language for many years. She taught ESL, coauthored two textbooks, and then became a reporter, writing about health, education, government, Latino affairs, and food. Her lifelong struggle with insomnia and interest in investigative reporting motivated her to write a book, The Savvy Insomniac: A Personal Journey through Science to Better Sleep. She now freelances as an editor and copy writer at On the Mark Editing.

4 Comments

  1. Our heated waterbed (and cool when we turn it low) is a real PLUS for sleeping. Covers don’t have to be thick or confining when the mattress is heated ~ or when it is cool, there isn’t such a need for A/C, fans, etc. We’ve upgraded waterbeds over the years, but wouldn’t want to go back to a conventional innerspring mattress. Anybody else enjoying this benefit of temperature control?

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  2. This is a form of temperature control that never occurred to me, since I’ve never owned a waterbed. Thanks, Kathie, for this cool tip!

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  3. Totally agree,rubber mattresses and polyester duvets have made hotel stays horrible.First thing I do on arrival is pull duvet out of its cover and just sleep under the cover and seriously thinking of travelling with my own cotton blanket

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    1. Hi Dean,

      My husband and I took 2 cotton blankets along on a 3-week trip we took this summer (which seemed like a good idea since on previous trips we’d encountered the situation I wrote about in the blog above).

      It turned out we didn’t need them. Every one of the economy motels and cabins we stayed in had blankets on the beds. I’m wondering if hotel proprietors are finally getting the message!

      Anyway, I’m looking for blankets to make big come-back. Thanks for writing in.

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