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Thread: Why do we sleep under blankets

  1. #1
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    Why do we sleep under blankets

    OK, I won't swear to the scientific accuracy, but I found this an interesting article.

    atlasobscura.com
    LATE JULY. New York City. A bedroom on the top floor of a four-story building in which I installed an air conditioner with several thousand too few BTUs. I barely know what a BTU is. The temperature that day reached into the upper 90s Fahrenheit, with humidity just short of actual water. The tiny weak air conditioner struggled to cool the room down while a few feet away I struggled to fall asleep. And yet I was unable to sleep without some sort of covering. In this case it was the barest edge of my lightest sheet, touching the smallest possible part of my torso.

    Why this compulsion to be covered, however minimally, in order to sleep?
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  2. #2
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    Interesting, thanks. I was a aware of the mildly sedating effect of blankets (I occasionally got away with using blankets and patience, instead of a general anaesthetic, for small children needing X-rays) but my money would have been on some evolutionary hang-over dating from trying to conceal ourselves from predators while we slept.

    Unfortunately, it's more fuel for my slight anxiety that I'm not entirely human. I find most latitudes lower than fifty degrees (and many hotels at higher latitudes) produce sleeping conditions that are too hot for my Scottish blood. So I frequently sleep with no covering at all, and find no difficulty dropping off. I also enjoy sleeping outdoors on windless nights in the summer when wild camping (without a bag or tent, but clothed). So long as I have decent ground insulation, I find that relaxing, too.

    More and more, when journalists start talking about some "well-known" life experience using the inclusive "we", I find I'm thinking, "Huh? Is that a thing?"
    Is that just me?

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    During life, we all develop attitudes and strategies to make our interactions with others more pleasant and useful. If I mention mine here, those comments can apply only to myself, my experiences and my situation. Such remarks cannot and should not be construed as dismissing, denigrating, devaluing or criticizing any different attitudes and strategies that other people have evolved as a result of their different situation and different experiences.

  3. #3
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    It's just you

    During hot weather I've often felt too chill when trying to sleep with no covering but sweat heavily with even the thinnest sheet. It's quite annoying.
    Selden

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Is that just me?
    I must be a hybrid of whatever species you are and human.

    I do much prefer cool conditions when I sleep. I find a lot of hotel rooms hot and stuffy for my comfort. But I also like sleeping under a blanket, and the heavier the better it feels (I most often use a blanket and a comforter). Ideally, I'd like the room around 12 to 16C, and me under the comforter. I do find the weight of the comforter... comforting.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  5. #5
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    I like covers, I think in part because the temperatures through the night will drop and I know I will want covering but don’t want to have to reach far to get them. Also, I feel safer from insect bites.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    When it is really hot in the Summer i do not go under the cover but i do snuggle up to it.. I put it down to habit but it also "feels" more comfortable..
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

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    An AC addict here, 64F under a top sheet and light blanket all 4 seasons. I'm a sad, uncovered, soggy toast during a power outage on summer nights.

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    I do this too.

    Perhaps it is the comfort of knowing one can alter one's exposure with minimum effort.

    Without a blanket, you could feel a draft or feel cold, and you'd have to hunt the for blanket to put over you. That 'should I get the blanket or just freeze' could keep me from sleeping.

    But if the blanket is to-hand, I can adjust it with a trivial movement, as needed. It doesn't require any decision-making.

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    I would think the interoceptive homeostasis system would find temperature regulation easier under a cover because it reduces changes and allows that system some rest during sleep. That part of the brain body system remains aware and for example causes posture changes during sleep to avoid bed sores. It might inhibit sleep if the environment is not suitable although eventually we need sleep and there is also consideable learning going on..
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Because the kitty insists on being under it with me.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Because the kitty insists on being under it with me.
    Exactly.

  12. #12
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    Graham can sleep without covering of any kind. I can't. The kids also seem okay with being uncovered. Though Irene will sometimes wake up crying because she isn't covered and not be willing to move enough to cover herself.
    _____________________________________________
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    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Ideally, I'd like the room around 12 to 16C, and me under the comforter.
    Having lived in a sub tropical climate for most of my life I can say that any night with a minimum under 20C is excellent sleeping weather.

    I have lower than normal blood pressure so a blanket is mandatory, even at 20C, although people with normal or high blood pressure might not feel the cold as much and be more comfortable at lower temperatures or without a blanket. It's bloody uncomfortable at 28C and 100% humidity though.

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    I generally sleep when I'm very tired, and essentially nothing else matters. I wait until my eyes are closing, then I lie down, then I'm asleep. Simple system!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I generally sleep when I'm very tired, and essentially nothing else matters. I wait until my eyes are closing, then I lie down, then I'm asleep. Simple system!
    Aren't you taking your emphasis on luminosity invariance a bit far? Surely something needs to offset the diurnal variability of the transfer rates for the external convective zone.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    I never even care if the lights are on, if that's what you're asking! So if I don't even need it to be dark, you can guess I don't care if I have a blanket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I generally sleep when I'm very tired, and essentially nothing else matters. I wait until my eyes are closing, then I lie down, then I'm asleep. Simple system!
    I'm gonna guess you're retired?

    For those of us who aren't, it behooves us to try to gather our sleepiness into a part of the day when we are not trying to work, or drive.

  18. #18
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    All I need is a stable temperature or still air to sleep. Temperature doesn't matter much so long as it isn't drafty. Fans drive me nuts. Of course, my wife loves a fan. In winter, I usually sleep in a hoodie so I can cover my ears against the breeze and hum.
    Solfe

  19. #19
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    Sound has actually become pretty important to me for sleeping. We have music playing from my wife's phone all night. I do need to be careful not to have the same music playing while driving.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    it behooves us to try to gather our sleepiness into a part of the day when we are not trying to work, or drive.
    Naps!

  21. #21
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    I prefer to be totally naked and no cover whenever possible. During the summer I won't go near a sheet or blanket. During the colder months I go under cover but find myself most mornings waking up uncovered. One of my ex girlfriends would have to be fully dressed in full pajamas and under cover no matter how hot it was.

    I remember going with her on holiday to Greece, there was an heat wave and the temperature never dropped below 40 C even during the night. There was no air-con in the small apartment we rented so before we went out in the evening I would take a towel soak it in water then put it in the fridge. When we got in for bed I would drape the towel over me just to cool me off enough to get to sleep. She would be tucked up under a thick blanket!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I never even care if the lights are on, if that's what you're asking! So if I don't even need it to be dark, you can guess I don't care if I have a blanket.
    Nah. I should have mentioned IR (body heat) to define this luminosity. As the temperature drops, do you not need a cover?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    I'm gonna guess you're retired?

    For those of us who aren't, it behooves us to try to gather our sleepiness into a part of the day when we are not trying to work, or drive.
    Ha, please do not make wild assumptions about being retired. Many of us will say busier than ever and not taking naps either. But I still hold with interoception preference for homeostasis during sleep as the reason. If you sleep without a cover, the ever vigilent "old brain" system will make adjustments. But you might have residual anxiety which could be avoided with a cover., Just a thought for the not yet retired.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  24. #24
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    I have always slept with Australian-made total light-excluding soft nightshades and near-total sound-excluding soft earplugs, even when I kipped in an anechoic room!

    One falls asleep so quickly and so deeply, day or night, and with the sensory deprivation and the assurity that no light and sound will disturb one's sleep, for me it turns regular slumber.....in to a near-religious experience.
    Last edited by wd40; 2018-Jun-07 at 09:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    OK, I won't swear to the scientific accuracy, but I found this an interesting article.

    atlasobscura.com
    The reason why we sleep in blankets is like the many-layers of the onion. There are psychological, physiological the probably a mesh of the two, including conditional from environmental issues. When you look at how wildlife treat their young, specifically the big cats, they tend to huddle together. This was the primordial blanket, required for survival. Humans became instinctive and intelligent enough to acquire the necessary knowledge of creating blankets, huts, fire itself.

    Some evolutionary biologists even think it is possible that the ability to sleep in safety of the trees may have even played a large part in the circadian time-keep.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Nah. I should have mentioned IR (body heat) to define this luminosity. As the temperature drops, do you not need a cover?
    The thermostat takes care of it. I can get a bit cool, but it's like suspended animation.

  27. #27
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    Ugh, do not forget the advantage of pulling the blanket over your head to ignore people. [yawn]
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  28. #28
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    I feel, with an autoimmune disease, I am a lot more finicky, and my tolerance of extremes is pretty narrow. Even different foods affect if I am too hot or too cold.
    The moment an instant lasted forever, we were destined for the leading edge of eternity.

  29. #29
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    I use one of my grandmother's old worn out quilts, even though I like breathing the air cold--denser, more oxygen. Makes the bed a bit of a hug-machine I suppose: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hug_machine

  30. #30
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    We had a spell of hot days recently; I had to find some very light covers that were large enough to completely cover Irene but small enough to fit in her bed--but her problem mostly seemed to be that the fan was blowing directly on her, and the covers stopped that.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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