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BODY TEMPERATURE: WHY ARE WE SO DIFFERENT?


Ever wondered why we have our feet sticking out of the blankets when we go to bed, and later that night we slide them back inside the blanket as we get cold? The human body is a fascinating organism and many factors determine if we feel warm or cold. Some of us need a warm temperature to get a good night’s sleep, cuddled inside a blanket, while some of us like to turn the air conditioner way up and cool the room down to a freezer. Our body temperatures tend to go up during the day, while we’re busy with our everyday lives and then decline as the night approaches. For some people this can be minimal, but for others it can be significant enough to reach for some extra covers in the middle of the night.

A lot of factors account for the varying body temperatures that all of us face. Some of them including the amount of energy we utilized during the day (higher energy leading to higher body temperature), age, level of lethargy, need for sleep, etc. It has also been found that women’s bodies release more heat than a man’s body does. This is why women are always cold! Men typically have more muscle mass which holds in heat longer, keeping them warm. Most men also have a higher metabolic rate than women, which makes them feel warmer, because a higher metabolic rate produces more heat, whereas women have a basal metabolic rate, giving them a lower resting temperature. Studies have shown that men experience a better night’s sleep with the thermostat at 72 degrees while women are more comfortable at 77 degrees. Differences in preferred sleeping temperatures can be a problem when a couple shares a bed. A great example of overcoming such issues are with products like Kömforte where the comforter is divided into two, each part of varying temperature needs. You won’t like stealing covers from the warmer partner during the night, or the one who is more sensitive to heat might end up pushing away the covers. Temperature that feels comforting to a woman might be suffocating for her better half.

Some of us have a better circulatory system and activated heating mechanisms. We also tend to feel colder after a day of minimal energy use. Think about those days that you never left the sofa! Some of us thought the years have even conditioned our bodies to feel comfortable at a certain temperature. If somebody is used to sleeping under a thick blanket, they might not like sleeping with a thinner sheet even if the room temperature is increased a few degrees. That is called conditioning, or in simple terms, making certain things habitual.

Hormones can also play a big role in discerning a comfortable temperature as they cause a driving change in thermoregulation.  This is even more prevalent in females as compared to males due to their menstrual cycles. The biological phases of a women’s life and the shift in hormones makes them prefer a higher sleeping temperature. The female hormone estrogen significantly contributes to this. Estrogen thickens the blood and reduces the flow to capillaries at the extremities of the body, i.e. our hands and feet. This means that the blood flow to the tips of our fingers and toes reduces significantly when they are cold. There are also distinct differences in the amounts of body fat between the opposite genders. Women have around 20 to 25 percent body fat whereas men have around 15 percent. Thus, women have a higher core temperature as a result of more body fat which is better at keeping the heat in. Our insight on temperature depends more on that of our skin, which for females tends to be lower.

During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, our brains’ temperature regulating cells shut down their function. After which our body temperature is determined by how hot or cold our bedroom is. Therefore, the key to a good night’s sleep is to find a good balance between the temperature at which we sleep to support our bodies and to get an ideal night’s sleep. As noted, this can vary greatly between the sexes. So, before you go to sleep tonight, consider your room temperature and bedding choices to assure that you sleep comfortably through the night.


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