Best cure for a cold bed?
December 12, 2009 8:46 PM   Subscribe

Best cure for a cold bed?

I hate getting into a cold bed. Usually body heat warms it up after 15 minutes or so, but getting into it just is depressing and miserable. I have tried extra blankets, I have tried sealing the windows, I am just not sure what else to do. I used to think it was because I lived in a basement, but now I have moved and about a week ago, when we had our first snow, I started feeling the cold bed again. I even tried putting a space heater in, but the problem is not the temperature of the room, it's the temperature of the bed! So, flannel sheets? Electric blankets? What's the best next step here? Frugal options preferred. I just want to climb into a warm bed at night...
posted by JoannaC to Home & Garden (63 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Significant other and/or large, non-drooly dog(s)
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:48 PM on December 12, 2009 [5 favorites]

You need an electric mattress pad. Get it started while you're brushing your teeth, it will make the bed nice and toasty.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:48 PM on December 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

Flannel sheets will definitely help.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:52 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

A towel or two in the dryer on high for 15 minutes, put under the top sheet a few minutes before you want to get in bed.

Really, there're so many things the clothes dryer makes better in winter....
posted by Night_owl at 8:53 PM on December 12, 2009

Two words: Mattress warmer.

Mrs Concert and I have used a heated mattress pad for over ten years. I turn my side up to 3 (medium) about 20 minutes before getting into bed and am nice and toasty.
posted by Cats' Concert at 8:54 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Electric Mattress Pads are WELL worth the $$ when it's cold. I turn ours on about 15 minutes before bedtime and slip into a comfy-cozy warm and toasty bed.

Over time it is a money saver because we now turn our furnace way down at night!
posted by labwench at 8:56 PM on December 12, 2009

posted by elder18 at 8:59 PM on December 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

I have an electric blanket between my sheets and comforter and it works pretty well to warm things up.
posted by youcancallmeal at 9:01 PM on December 12, 2009

A low tech way to warm the bed is an old-fashioned hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel. It feels great to cuddle your feet up next to. I have a "thing" about sleeping on/in electric stuff like blankets or mattress pads, but I love my hot water bottle.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 9:02 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Rice bag: a cloth bag filled with rice. If you have an old sock that lost its mate, you can fill that up and tie off the end. Heat in the microwave for 4 or 5 minutes. Wrap in a towel and put in bed a few minutes before you get to bed. It'll cool down after a couple of hours but the bed will be warmed up before you get in.
posted by dilettante at 9:02 PM on December 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

Flannel sheets, flannel sheets, flannel sheets.
posted by scody at 9:03 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hot water bottle. Just remember to screw the lid on tightly. A large Nalgene bottle filled with near-boiling water and wrapped in some sort of insulation (closed-cell foam or extra large socks) would work well. I've had this arrangement keep my feet warm at temperatures well below zero.
posted by Commander Rachek at 9:04 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bed warmers. In the old days they put embers into covered pans and put those into the foot of the bed. Now I guess you would use some other heating mechanism but the result is the same. Just google bed warmer to see the variety of products out there.
posted by ohio at 9:09 PM on December 12, 2009

You need an electric mattress pad. Get it started while you're brushing your teeth, it will make the bed nice and toasty.

There is no other answer than this. It will change your life. Worth the one time investment, lasts for years. Add it to flannel sheets and a nice down comforter and you're sleeping in style for less than $150.
posted by jessamyn at 9:11 PM on December 12, 2009

Brrrr!! I am freezing all the time, but now is especially trying. The other suggestions are great too.
I take a bag of fluids (as in Normal Saline or LRS) and microwave it to temp. You can do this with any bag that will hold water, such as exam gloves with a knot tied on.
I have heard of bags with rice/other things that hold heat. I personally fantasize about an electric blanket, which I remember from my childhood but so far, Santa has offered ...
Anyway, stay warm and don't burn yourself!
posted by bebrave! at 9:12 PM on December 12, 2009

Add: I keep mine on for a few hours sometimes at night [yeah I'm a late night online scrabble player] every night and it adds maybe a few bucks a month to my bill, it's pretty insubstantial.
posted by jessamyn at 9:14 PM on December 12, 2009

+1 for the rice bag... also, flax seed (available at your local bulk food store) works even better than rice.
posted by kaudio at 9:16 PM on December 12, 2009

Nthing the Nalgene filled with near-boiling water. I used this when I lived in the middle of the woods in an uninsulated, screened in shack. Flannel sheets help too.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:17 PM on December 12, 2009

I'm going to Nth the flannel sheets, and you can get them pretty inexpensively, especially around the holidays. I love my flannel sheets.
posted by inmediasres at 9:23 PM on December 12, 2009

Another vote for the rice bag, but we used buckwheat and rice together. You could do what we did and take an old pillowcase, fill a bit with buckwheat + rice; enough that it covers the whole pillowcase area when laid flat. Sew off the end. Microwave for 4-5 min. Lay on bed where you sleep. Enjoy :)
posted by Verdandi at 9:24 PM on December 12, 2009

Electric mattress pad FTW. I'm near-reptilian, and only need to keep mine on a very low setting to keep me very comfortable. Related bonus, it lets me keep the thermostat much lower than what I would personally prefer.
posted by desuetude at 9:32 PM on December 12, 2009

I have a microfiber fleece blanket that I'm totally addicted to - it is warm right away, and so soft and fluffy. it was about $15, and I ended up buying a pile for my friends because I loved it so much. it actually feels warmer to the touch than my sheets
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:39 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I do pretty good with my electric blanket. I think it was $30 at WalMart. Anyways, I typically turn it up to high, 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. The bed gets so warm I just melt right in. :D Then once I'm nice and toasty, I turn it all the way down to the lowest setting for the rest of the night.
posted by Zarya at 9:45 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I hate flannel sheets but they do really make the bed seem warmer when it's cold out so I submit to my husband's love for them during the winter.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:47 PM on December 12, 2009

A really easy point of intervention is your own body temperature as you hop into bed. Doing things that get your blood flowing, or eating a small piece of chocolate, or drinking a cup of chamomile or ginger tea all work for me. (The trick with the chamomile is falling asleep before its diuretic effects kick in.)
posted by salvia at 9:48 PM on December 12, 2009

Even better than flannel sheets: microfiber fleece sheets. Seriously. They're warm and toasty when you get in bed even without a heated mattress pad or whatnot.

(A hot water bottle or rice bag is good too, but more localized.)

I like flannel sheets a lot---I've been sleeping on nothing else for about 10 years, winter and summer---but I think I'm going to switch to fleece sheets for the winter up here in Alaska.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:50 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Electric mattress pad +1
AND flannel sheets +1
= +2
Makes going to bed a pleasure.
posted by bricoleur at 9:52 PM on December 12, 2009

Fleece sheets. Drawback: makes getting out of a toasty bed in the morning take that much more will power.
posted by ctmf at 9:57 PM on December 12, 2009

Like SweetTeaandaBiscuit, I don't like anything electric in my bed. But I don't like the cold either. My solutions are:

a lambswool mattress cover (the price of an electric blanket minus the energy consumption)
flannel sheets on top of that
hot-water bottle inserted between sheets 15 minutes before bedtime
a very hot shower or foot bath before turning in.

Sweet dreams.
posted by Paris Elk at 10:02 PM on December 12, 2009

I LOVE, love, love my electric blanket. I don't sleep with it on. I just turn it on "high" for 20 minutes, then turn it off when I slide into my warm, wonderful sheets.
posted by eleyna at 10:14 PM on December 12, 2009

My waterbed is always the exact temperature I want it to be.
posted by torquemaniac at 10:25 PM on December 12, 2009

Of course if you don't like live electric things in your bed you could always switch it on 15 mins before you go to bed and off when you go to bed, your own body heat will hopefully take over before the electric heat dissipates.
posted by atrazine at 10:42 PM on December 12, 2009

I use my electric blanket religiously. They're inexpensive, and you don't need to leave them on all night or anything.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:48 PM on December 12, 2009

Run a quick iron over your spot and hop in!
posted by nonmyopicdave at 10:51 PM on December 12, 2009

Free solution that doesn't lead to you waking up in the middle of the night because electric heat in your bed is too hot (benefit of having warm blood):

1. get under covers.
2. wiggle your limbs around like you're having a seizure
3. repeat until you're not cold anymore
4. fall asleep in your nice warm body-heated bed.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:02 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Flannel jammies + Five minutes in the dryer = Heaven

Another thing is to turn down the sheets rather than making the bed as normal. A well-made bed simply traps in the previous night's moisture while insulating it from the heat of the room, which is the recipe for a cold bed sandwich.

(Also: Heated water bed!)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:07 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

A down comforter warms a lot faster than any other blanket I've ever used, no matter how many other blankets I layer on. We got ours at; a friend has since raised confusing ethical questions about the sourcing of down, but supposedly Ikea's comforters are a better choice.

I had no idea what a difference down made compared to other blankets until I moved to Northern California, where insulation is a joke but you feel a little foolish and wasteful running the heater when it's merely in the upper 50s outside. I warm up right away when I get in. Socks are good in an emergency, but they're rarely necessary anymore.

(I also usually take a warm bath before bed, so I'm sure that helps...)
posted by wintersweet at 11:21 PM on December 12, 2009

no one has recommended my own personal bed-warming Macguyver move: HAIR DRYER. you have two options: stand there, next to your bed, aiming the hair dryer at the sheets you will soon occupy. or, my way: get in bed, bend knees, aim hair dryer into the air pocket underneath knees. when that is warm, point toward feet. this is important: DON'T FALL ASLEEP till you remember to turn it off!
posted by apostrophe at 11:39 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

As you're looking for the frugal option, I have a $10 solution. A microwave bed warmer - I have a Bed Buddy, which is fantastic.

It's much cheaper than running an electric blanket. It'll warm the bed to a comfortable temperature (you might need two for a large bed) and then once you're in your lovely warm bed, your body warmth will take over and you'll stay warm all night.

I always zap mine for at least 3 minutes, even though it says 2 minutes on the pack (I've had the same Bed Buddies for 8 years now with no ill effects). They retain heat to an incredible degree - I've woken up at 4am sometimes and the Bed Buddy is still warm after five or six hours.
posted by essexjan at 11:46 PM on December 12, 2009

Electric blanket. Electric blanket. Electric blanket. I've had one since I was kid and I don't think I could get through the winter any other way. Mmm, toasty.
posted by liquorice at 12:04 AM on December 13, 2009

Hot water bottle or electric blanket. The best cure for cold is heat. If you're feeling lonely as well you can always get a cat that likes to sleep under the blankets (that's my hot water bottle).
posted by tehloki at 1:04 AM on December 13, 2009

Came in here to say flannel sheets.
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:43 AM on December 13, 2009

Another vote for a heated mattress pad. The Electrowarmth model I got my wife for Christmas a few years ago is the best present I've ever given her (or so she keeps telling me). I like it a bunch, too.
posted by hades at 1:47 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Electric mattress pad! I have a "thing" about sheets that aren't the right texture. An electric mattress pad feels like a bed that is mysteriously, magically warm. And the lowest couple of settings are plenty, even in a super cold house.
posted by anaelith at 5:27 AM on December 13, 2009

Seconding the down comforter. I was just thinking this morning that it's probably 5 times warmer than any poly/cotton blanket or comforter. And it is almost immediately warming.
posted by qsysopr at 5:39 AM on December 13, 2009

We sleep on a feather bed which is one of those great luxuries of the ancients. It heats up quickly and keeps us a solid ten degrees warmer.
posted by mearls at 7:20 AM on December 13, 2009

I have cotton sheets. Great in the summer but as good as a block of ice in the winter. And even when my body heat warms up my immediate area, shifting 4 inches in either direction causes me to come into contact with more ice cold cotton sheet.

My solution last year was to purchase a ~$60 electric blanket, which was mostly pretty great. Until I brought it out again this year and found that it no longer heats up. After reading similar stories and reviews, I was unwilling to invest another $60 in something I couldn't guarantee would be any better than another blanket layer by next year.

This year my solution was to sleep between two microfiber-type blankets (I think that's what it's called, they're this brand and from this store but you could probably find them anywhere else). One gets tucked in the bed over the cotton sheets, and the other goes on top of me. (And for extra insulation, I layer the old non-functional electric blanket and a cotton comforter on top.) The microfiber seriously feels like 15 degrees warmer than the cotton, and it feels like it takes less time to warm up even more with my body heat. I turn my heat way down at night, so it gets to be about 50 degrees, but it stays seriously snuggly under the blankets. And I don't have to lock myself into one position for fear of shifting into a non-body-heated zone.

So, I have limited experience with electric bedding, but the experience I have was disappointing for sure, and I feel confident that the extra blanket to sleep on top of was a solid investment.

(Note: My feet are usually the last things to warm up by a large margin, so sometimes I'll do the microwaved-rice-bag trick and keep it a the foot of the bed or take the hairdryer and blow some hot air toward that end for a few minutes.)
posted by hegemone at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2009

rice bag.
posted by sully75 at 8:43 AM on December 13, 2009

I have an electric throw (kind of like a half-size blanket) that I put over my side of the bed and use to warm it before I get in. I turn it off when I get into bed and my body heat maintains the warmth afterwards. The nice thing about the throw is that I can take it out of the bedroom and sit on the couch with it if my feet get cold while I'm watching TV or whatever. The throw I got was a gift, but has lasted several years, and I see them online for about $40 at various stores.

Like many others in this thread, I don't recommend leaving it on overnight, although I'm not so scrupulous as to unplug it when I go to bed. I just turn it off.
posted by immlass at 8:46 AM on December 13, 2009

Oh man this is timely, as we bought microfleece sheets for $30 at Target two weeks ago, and I am honestly raving like a loon about them to anyone within the sound of my voice.

Better than flannel -- they're better quality. And at least the packaging says that the "micro" part means they won't degrade like "regular" flannel would. Haven't had them long enough to say whether that's true. But if we had to buy a new set every season I wouldn't care, they're that freakin' awesome.

Forget the electric things and all, they're too much of a hassle to deal with. And we're cheap, so we keep the heater low during the day, so I go from cold air and I jump in the bed and get that mmmmmmahhhhhhhhh feeling.

Totally worth it and I am fully with you since I've always been bugged by that myself and finally have found the solution. Seriously, just shut down your computer right now and go buy 'em.
posted by spinn at 9:15 AM on December 13, 2009

Another vote for fleece sheets as being greatly superior to flannel in the warm-to-the-touch department.
posted by drlith at 9:59 AM on December 13, 2009

A hot water bottle is my solution. It's simple and cheap. As for getting out of the warm bed into the frigid air, I'm still working on a solution for that one.
posted by askmeacct at 10:18 AM on December 13, 2009

Oh, FWIW, I've had my electric mattress pad least five years, and it still works fine. And I admit that I often leave it on all the time, unless I'm going out of town.
posted by desuetude at 10:32 AM on December 13, 2009

I also have a flannel duvet cover for my down comforter. Paired with flannel sheets, the flannel blanket creates a nice pocket of warmth.
posted by melodykramer at 10:59 AM on December 13, 2009

A low tech way to warm the bed is an old-fashioned hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel. It feels great to cuddle your feet up next to. I have a "thing" about sleeping on/in electric stuff like blankets or mattress pads, but I love my hot water bottle.

Exactly what I came in here to say. My old lady hot water bottle cost $3 and has kept me toasty on many, many a cold night. I wrap mine in its own special pillowcase.

I actually really hate flannel sheets, but jersey knit are much warmer than regular cotton, FWIW.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:00 PM on December 13, 2009

We use flannel sheets but, when it gets super cold out (our bedroom heater is broken) I make the bed with one of my old comforters and actually sleep on top of that.

As much as I like to be warm when I get into bed, I just can not use anything electric on my bed. My parents had an electric blanket that caught their bed on fire when I was a teenager. After that we got rid of all electric blankets due to our fears of it happening again.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:58 PM on December 13, 2009

SnuggleSafe microwavable cat bed warmer. (Also works for human beds)
posted by ahaynes at 3:35 PM on December 13, 2009

What I used to do while young and broke in a cold apartment is to take a hair dryer and run it inside the sheets for a few minutes, creating both a warm bed and a pocket of warm air to snuggle into.
posted by Wavelet at 10:39 PM on December 13, 2009

Everyone else has already said it, but: electric mattress pad.
posted by primer_dimer at 1:50 AM on December 14, 2009

Low cost and probably already handy: Hair dryer for a moment under the sheets.

On preview: what Wavelet said.
posted by dozo at 7:05 AM on December 14, 2009

Electric blanket or mattress pad. My electric blanket changed my life...I could never warm up in bed on cold nights before. Now I sleep in heavenly, toasty bliss.
posted by dumbledore69 at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2009

It's probably a horrible fire hazard, but the older style of rope lights heats up a bed nicely. The newer ones all seem to be made with LEDs, but the old ones will get hot enough to burn you if you don't take them out of the bed before you get in.

Obviously, keep a close eye on things and have a fire extinguisher around just in case.
posted by yohko at 7:18 PM on December 14, 2009

Thank you! The fleece sheets cost more than the mattress pad, as it turns out, so I bought the mattress pad. So far so good! Thank you, I knew all of you would know what to do :)
posted by JoannaC at 9:24 PM on December 14, 2009

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