Do you ever have those nights when you just can’t seem to fall asleep?
You toss and turn, flip your pillow, try all sorts of sleeping positions but still can’t seem to drift off. If this sounds familiar there might be something you can try, that sounds a bit silly but has shown in various studies to be effective in helping people get to sleep.
Try sticking one foot out from underneath the covers.
See I told you it sounds a bit silly, and almost too simple to work, but there is some pretty solid science behind this little trick.
It all comes down to the fact that we sleep better when we’re cooler.
Our body temperature naturally falls by a degree or two before we go to sleep, and then falls again while we’re sleeping. This decrease in temperature acts as a sort of prompt for other systems in our body to fire up and prepare us for sleep.
So when we’re too warm, possibly from snuggling down under the duvet, we find it harder to get to sleep.
It’s a delicate balance though, so often kicking the entire duvet off makes us feel too cold, but we’re a bit too warm with it completely covering us. Sticking just one foot out of the covers seems to be enough to help reduce our body temperature the right amount to encourage sleep.
The theory is that sticking out a foot is more effective than just pulling the covers down a bit because our feet lose heat more quickly.
This is because our feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomoses which dilate when we’re warm, which lets more blood reach the skin to cool us down. So our feet are designed to lose heat and help cool us down, in a way that the main part of our bodies isn’t. If we pull the covers down to expose our torsos we wouldn’t get the same effect, and if you’re anything like me it would feel even harder to get to sleep with out the comfort and weight of a duvet or a blanket.
So, next time you’re lying in bed struggling to get to sleep, try sticking a foot out from under the covers.
It may just help you drift off.