Modern technology has succeeded in providing us with the most comfortable living environments possible. When we are cold, we put on the heat, when we are hot we turn up the air conditioner. Have all these luxuries spoiled us? Research has proven, this just might be the case. Previously, it was assumed that stable, comfortable fixed temperatures would create a well being of most people. However, new research has indicated quite the opposite. It has been found that temperature variations may indeed have a more positive effect on our health. It might even create pleasure and happiness.
How Temperature Variations Affect Your Health
Studies are showing a correlation between temperature variations and preventable metabolic syndromes such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and adrenal fatigue. The latest research has indicated that a person’s exposure to mildly cold or warmer environments that are outside their regular comfort zones can increase metabolism and energy usage, which in turn can tackle obesity. One study found exposure to mild cold temperatures over a 10 day period changed glucose metabolism and increased insulin sensitivity by more than 40%, aiding type 2 diabetes.
Body temperature variations affect certain chemicals in the brainstem, which in turn increase sensitivity to GABA and adenosine. GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Low levels of GABA may be linked to anxiety or mood disorders. Adenosine is a neuromodulator, believed to play a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal. Adenosine also plays a role in the regulation of blood flow to various organs, a very important bodily function.
Temperature Variations Even Affect Sleep
Is there an optimal sleeping temperature? Science says, yes. Research has been conclusive that body temperature variations most definitely affect sleep. They cause certain chemicals to be released into the brain that induces a sleepy and relaxed state. People who have a greater sensitivity to the fluctuation are heavy sleepers, while those who have less of a temperature variation reaction are lighter sleepers. The other known cause of increased body fluctuations other than temperature is exercise.
For optimal sleep, the bedroom should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. It has been noted at temperatures above 75 and below 54 are disruptive to most people’s sleep. Your body naturally peaks and declines in temperature on its own. The highest levels are early in the afternoon, and the lowest is around 5 a.m. When your body starts to lose heat from its core, you experience feelings of tiredness. Colder temperatures help get the body to that lower temperature faster, thus enabling a deeper sleep.
There are many benefits of sleeping in cold temperatures that can enhance your health:
- A lower temperature can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. If your environment is too hot or too cold, your body will waste a lot of energy trying to regulate itself, resulting in tossing and turning, or even insomnia. The cold will bring you into a deep, restful, and restorative sleep.
- Sleeping in the cold leads to a more youthful appearance. It has actually been proven that sleeping in lower temperatures allows your body to release additional melatonin, the best anti-aging hormone your body has to offer.
- Cold variations can decrease your risk for certain metabolic diseases. Sleeping in a 66-degree temperature was shown to burn more calories during awake time, and increase the amount of brown fat in the body. Brown fat aids in burning calories, it does not store them. The combination of the two together lowers the risk of many metabolic diseases that are weight based, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Cheap Ways to Stay Cool While You Sleep
If you’ve decided to use cold temperature variations to improve your health while you sleep, you may also have noticed that it can be expensive to keep your AC running every night at those low levels.
However, there are other options to lowering your body to its optimal sleep temperature that do not require breaking the bank. These are some of the best ways to keep your body cool:
- Freeze a sheet or blanket and put it over you right before you go to sleep. Or you may want to freeze a small pillow or stuffed animal and tuck it between your knees. For longer duration, you can purchase a cooling pillow.
- Soak the top sheet in cold water, wring it out well, and let it dry on you as you sleep.
- Sleep naked. The fewer clothes you are wearing, the less insulation you will have.
- Use a fan to circulate the air.
- Leave one or both feet out from under the covers.
suRelying too much on the air conditioner can cause other problems as well. Running your air conditioning at too low of temperatures day and night has been noted by many doctors to be related to health ailments such as asthma attacks, runny noses, muscular pain, flu, pharyngitis, sinusitis, cold, sore throat, and muscular aches pains. So try to stay cool in other ways.
Beware of Extreme Temperature Variations
It is vitally important that you know that extreme temperature variations could be dangerous, even deadly. On average the human body’s temperature rests at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37 degrees Celsius, but normal can range between 97 degrees and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. With or without the help of warming or cooling equipment and devices, the environment needs to be comfortable at about 82 degrees. There is a reason why we wear clothes; they are not only for good looks! They are indeed necessary to help keep our body regulated according to our environment.
However, if you do find yourself in a setting with extreme temperatures, it is important to take precautionary measures as there are several health concerns to be aware of that could be critical to your survival.
- High temperatures in the range of 90 degrees to 105 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to heat cramps. Common symptoms include heavy sweating, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or lightheadedness, blacking out, or a weak but racing pulse.
- Between 105 degrees and 130 degrees, heat exhaustion is likely to set in.
- External temperatures over 130 are conducive to heat stroke. Symptoms include hot, red skin; a strong, fast pulse; losing consciousness; and an internal body temperature of over 103 degrees.
Just as the extreme heat is dangerous, so is the extreme cold. And it’s not only the temperature that you need to be aware of. A high wind chill factor and cold water can set you into a bout of hypothermia that is life-threatening. Even external body moisture can cause a dangerous chill as it can alter your body’s rate of cooling. Severe cold can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, chilblains, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and cold-induced hives.