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When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, there are many factors can help you to drift off. Avoiding caffeine, not napping during the day, steering clear of your smart phone before bed, the list goes on.
But there’s another to add. Try sticking your foot out of the bed when you hit the hay. Yes, really.
Our hands and feet play a key role in helping us sleep, apparently, and it’s all down to how pivotal our temperature is to our snooze time.
Sleep is most likely to occur when our core temperature decreases, and less likely to occur when it’s high.
Sarah Biggs from the Sleep Health Foundation, explained that our hands and feet play a key role in facilitating sleep, as they permit the heated blood from the central body to cool down through the skin’s surface.
“Your hands and feet are where you lose heat the most in your body, so by sticking your foot out of the sheets, it is a very quick way of reducing your core body temperature, and then help you to sleep,” Biggs says.
“Temperature is one of the things that tells you that it is time to sleep. Our sleep is regulated by two things – one is our internal body clock (the thing that drives sleep) and the other is the pressure to sleep (how long you have been awake for). These two systems work in tandem.”
While it might seem ludicrous to voluntarily have any of your limbs or body parts exposed to the cold night air, it actually makes a lot of sense.
“Our body clock also regulates our temperature. When it’s time to sleep, your body will naturally cool down, and your core temperature will change slightly, to tell your body that it is time to sleep. So, if we get too hot at night, what happens is that we will wake up, as our body is not at a temperature conducive to sleep,” Biggs explains.
While you might be inspired to throw your feet out of bed tonight, it's important to remember that your temperature is only one factor that will help you to get to sleep.
“There are many factors that can contribute, including avoiding caffeine and going to bed at the same time each night. Temperature is just one thing to keep in mind when it comes to getting a proper sleep,” Biggs says.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation other factors that can contribute to sleeping well are:
1. Sticking to the same sleep schedule. Try and go to sleep at the same time and wake at the same time, even on weekends.
2. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes and heavy meals at night.
3. Establish a sleep routine which includes some quiet, wind down time before bed. This can be reading or meditating but try and stay away from technology and bright lights.
4. Exercise regularly.
5. Create a cool, dark place for you to sleep and make sure you have a comfortable bed and supportive pillow.
6. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, avoid taking naps during the day.
One way to wind down before going to bed is to meditate. Check out MMTV's introduction to meditation in the video below.
What’s your night time ritual?