Too hot, too cold to sleep...
August 12, 2018 9:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm very cold when I go to bed, so I sleep with blankets (and mummify myself). Then I wake up too hot, so I remove the blankets. Then I wake up too cold, so I grab the blankets, etc. How can I get the right temperature and stay there? (It's not my thyoid. This has been going on for years and I've had many thyroid tests.)

If blankets are available: *while asleep*, I wrap myself in blankets like a burrito, so that I couldn't cool off even if I wanted to. Unsurprisingly, this makes me wake up when I overheat (drenched in sweat).

If blankets are not available: I either can't get to sleep or I sleep for a short while before I wake up shivering.

Things that don't work: lighter blankets (mummifying is still too effective at trapping my body heat), blankets on half of me (I mummify or go fetal in my sleep so that I'm completely covered), one foot hanging off bed (I go fetal in my sleep to pull it in), adjusting ambient temp (I have a husband who is perfectly happy with the temperature, and it doesn't work anyways -- it just starts the cycle in a different place).
posted by flibbertigibbet to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
And just to emphasize: I am completely unconscious when I wrap myself in blankets or w/e. I'm not consciously turning myself into a human self-cooking burrito.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

What kind of pajamas are you wearing? Have you tried different pajama weights? Clothes work better than blankets for me because they're less drafty.
posted by momus_window at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2018

None, I've never worn pyjamas except at sleepovers as a kid. I'll give it a shot.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2018

Try with just a sheet and varying pajamas. I usually go to sleep with a sweatshirt on and somehow pull it off in the night. Also socks keep my temperature constant no matter what type of pajamas I’m wearing.
posted by raccoon409 at 9:44 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I will be watching this thread with interest as I have the same hot/cold thing when sleeping. Need blankets to sleep, wake up roasting.

I have had some success with adjusting what I'm wearing instead of using more blankets to go to sleep. Wake up too hot, remove extra shirt, go back to sleep. Sometimes I have to do yoga on the floor mat to cool off enough to go back to sleep.

I do not have the burrito problem - I hate snarled/not smooth bedsheets like nobody's business.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 9:56 AM on August 12, 2018

Have you tried using a fan? Moving air is different than just adjusting the temperature.
posted by dilaudid at 9:59 AM on August 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

I change what I'm wearing once or sometimes twice during a typical night. I don't like to feel a fan on me but have one running at a distance.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:30 AM on August 12, 2018

What about a very light weight blanket? I can't sleep without pants and a shirt because of poor temp regulation. So maybe give thinner cotton pjs and a thin cotton blanket a try in various combinations.
posted by Kalmya at 10:31 AM on August 12, 2018

I have experienced mild hot flashes at various points in my cycle since my late 20s (it's getting worse with perimenopause). They can be quite intense at night. Do you think it could be hormonal?

One thing that helps when I go to bed cold in the winter is socks. Just short cotton socks. They make me feel warmer immediately, whereas if my feet are cold and I'm not wearing socks, I can wrap myself in the duvet and still not feel warm for ages...but then at some point in the night I do get too hot and sweaty, mummified in the duvet.

When I wear socks to bed, I don't need to be wrapped in the duvet, and it's very easy to just take off the socks and go back to sleep. (I never get cold again, but if I did I'd just put them back on.)

So maybe try wearing socks and pyjamas, with no blankets so you can't mummify yourself. If you get too warm, remove the socks; if you get cold again, put them back on.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:32 AM on August 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Have you tried an electric blanket? You'd be able to adjust the temperature to your taste.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:32 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’m similar to you, go to bed freezing then wake a few hours later roasting. Keeping the house cool helps a lot, I’m cold no matter the temp when I retire, so keeping the room cool helps the roasting alive part later, to be a bit less intense. You could try using an electric mattress pad or blanket, the bed will be warm when you get in so maybe you’d cocoon less. But for me what works every time, is kicking blankets and sheets off my feet when I wake up hot. Makes the bedding a bigger mess in the morning, but it cools me down a lot. If I kick blankets off my body am guaranteed to cold again shortly so just my feet works for me.

You could also try a loose woven blanket, it shouldn’t trap heat as much when you mummify. Like very loosely woven cotton waffle weave summer weight blanket.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 10:44 AM on August 12, 2018

I have an electric blanket and one of its settings is to shut off after an hour, which seems designed for you.
posted by Vortisaur at 10:53 AM on August 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

I recall a similar discussion from a few months ago -- maybe some more advice that you'll find useful!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 11:24 AM on August 12, 2018

I asked this question years ago and a bamboo blanket pretty much solved this problem. It's lightweight but not too lightweight, and vents well.

You could also put a heated mattress pad on a timer, so it's warm when you get in bed, but turns off an hour later.

If you constantly wake up drenched in sweat, put a towel underneath you so you're not compounding the problem by the moisture making you cold.
posted by AFABulous at 11:36 AM on August 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

THis happens to me too - we have a good AC/heater so I know the room stays pretty consistently 72 to 74F all year. My best solutions so far (in combination) -
1. I always wear pajamas (I like long sleeves and long pants but both lightweight), plus loose socks.
2. I have an electric mattress pad - I leave it on pretty high until I feel fully warm. I turn it off right before I go to sleep (ymmv, but I fall asleep pretty easily, so I know when it's coming).
3. I have a few light weight comforters in the summer and I add a down throw in the winter.

I think this works because I get fully warm enough to relax and fall asleep and the bed slowly cools after I'm asleep so I don't get overheated in my sleep. Every now and then, I do still wake up all sweaty and too hot but it's a lot less rare (and seems to be related to stressful dreams...)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 11:38 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I only ever manage to sleep through the night when I remember to turn the fan on. If I don't, I'll wake up sweaty from exactly this problem. Fan also makes nice white noise.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:28 PM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Try a proper duvet with a cover. They regulate temperature much better. I can't sleep with blankets, having always had duvets.
posted by fshgrl at 1:05 PM on August 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I know that I feel cold when I haven't really exhaled / relaxed (in some physical, non-social sense); I used to turn up the heat, to no avail, and then eventually fall asleep only to wake up extremely hot. I've gotten better at exhaling / realizing where I'm tense, and that's helped me not wake up sweaty. Maybe something for you to think about?
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:34 PM on August 12, 2018

Seconding natural fibers--a lot of fleece or polyester is like wrapping the body in fluffy Saran Wrap. It's like a greenhouse for the body. It's nice when it's 25 below, to get real warm real quick, but not as great for eight straight hours of body wrap. 100% Cotton or wool lets perspiration evaporate while maintaining warmth and the heaviness you are maybe seeking by wrapping yourself into a human burrito. You can get nice blankets and stuff at TJ Maxx type places and the always-recommended LL Bean stuff is great and worth the price. I suspect you can also get cheaper (and maybe heavier and preferable) wool blankets from Army surplus type places and those on top of a cotton sheet (because scratchy?) would be really nice.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:18 PM on August 12, 2018

I keep my house relatively chilly in winter, and sometimes don't realize that I'm cold and my feet are popsicles until I get into bed. I have used an electric blanket that had a boost setting - it would go on high for some period, then go back to the low setting. That worked well until it died. Now I use a down comforter. It gets me warm very fast. It's light, so I can kick it off/ pull it back on quickly. Wearing warm socks is a big help.
posted by theora55 at 2:43 PM on August 12, 2018

I would try limiting the number of blankets available for you to unconsciously burrito yourself up in. I'm also a big fan of pajamas.
posted by rhizome at 3:07 PM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

The hot cold thing throughout the night sounds exactly like what hit me at perimenopause. I was oblivious, for some reason I thought the sheets were bad, the duvet was wrong, the blanket too heavy, the blanket too light...blamed everything except normal human life changes.
I didn't realize what was happening til after the fact, until I got my first hot flash and menopause started, then I was like, I HAD NIGHT SWEATS FOR ALMOST TWO YEARS AND HAD NO IDEA.
So if you've been fine sleeping until recently, might be something to consider.
posted by newpotato at 3:08 PM on August 12, 2018

Can you tuck the top sheets/ blanket / duvet into the bottom end of the bed so you can't mummify yourself effectively? I'm a covers thief when I'm asleep and that stops me turning myself into a sausage roll. A combination of that, sticking one leg out and a fancy duvet works for me. I also sometimes use two very thin duvets, so when it gets warm i can throw the top one off without letting all the heat out and then freezing.
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2018

On the same general track as the electric blanket, a hot water bottle will help heat up the bedding early in the night (I fill it and put it between the sheets before I brush my teeth), then gradually lose heat so you're less likely to wake up sweaty.
posted by momus_window at 3:28 PM on August 12, 2018

Came to suggest pyjamas. At least a night shirt. Wear something that covers your coldest areas and then use a sheet or nothing. When I get cold when I'm trying to go to sleep t's usually just a surface chill caused by drafts. For me, as long as I'm wearing something that covers my back past my butt I'm comfortable. A little draft on my tailbone gives me the shivers.
posted by irisclara at 3:52 PM on August 12, 2018

So maybe give thinner cotton pjs and a thin cotton blanket a try in various combinations.

Adding to this, I might mention that a merino wool blanket is both very light and very warm. While I still have a big duvet with cover on my bed, rolled up on one side (basically because I have nowhere else to store it), since I got my merino blanket I have not used it at all.
posted by tenderly at 5:12 PM on August 12, 2018

My nighttime temperature regulation is fine when I wear pajamas and absolute shit when I don’t. Doesn’t matter what the room temp or blankets are. Every single time I somehow convince myself that tonight is a good night not to wear pajamas, I regret it immensely as I rocket through the temperature swings in my sleep.
posted by telepanda at 5:44 PM on August 12, 2018

Just to rule out alcohol use - when one sobers up overnight there's a rebound effect in thermoregulation resulting in an increased production of heat.
posted by porpoise at 5:56 PM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Try a hot bath just before bed? You may be warmed thoroughly enough that you won't feel the need to bundle up so much at the outset.
posted by lakeroon at 6:38 PM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hot water bottle? They cool themselves but are very hot at first. And seconding the bath idea.
posted by jojobobo at 7:06 PM on August 12, 2018

In winter I put a heating pad under the covers at the foot of the bed. It has a timer. It toasts the entire area where my frozen feet will go. After an our, or a number of hours if I choose, it clicks off in the night. By that time my own internal thermostat has already started to pick up the slack.
posted by invincible summer at 7:18 PM on August 12, 2018

I am like this except I wake up in a puddle of sweat.

What worked for me is to just tough out the cold and not over bundle. One day I just decided that I wasn’t going to freeze, my body would figure out a way to regulate its temperature, don’t fixated on being cold and just go to sleep. It was Very mind over matter. Sure enough my body figured it out and I’m a warmer person for it.

Also silk pajamas! Warm and breathable.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:18 PM on August 12, 2018

I also burrito myself into a fetal position and can't sleep with my legs exposed. Nightclothes are usually tank tops or cotton shirts regardless of season.* I'm pretty sensitive to temperature changes, but I use the same thick blanket in the summer as I do in winter, with the only difference being a fan at the end of my bed for warmer months. The fan directly hits my covered feet and still helps keep me in that "chilly, need blanket" zone all night, while the room A/C (or heat) keeps me from getting too hot or cold in either direction.

*Anecdata, in case it helps any:
Winter - room temp kept at 16-17C (60-62F)
Summer - temp kept at 24.5-25C (76-77F)

Blanket is fluffy polyester sold for colder months but I swear the fan makes all the difference, especially in hot, humid summers. I've saved so much money on using the same sheets and blanket year-round
posted by lesser weasel at 10:08 PM on August 12, 2018

I've marked as best answer the things I haven't tried. For the past two weeks I've been sleeping with two cotton sheets on top, which has helped (no puddles of sweat) but not cured (I still wake up sweaty or cold, 2-7x a night) and which prompted this question.

The problem is that even if I'm already plenty warm, if there is fabric in my reach my body will wrap itself in the fabric. Tight tuck? No problem, rip that blanket/sheet free in my sleep (hotel maids hate this one trick, etc.). My stuff is already cotton/down (sorry, I call comforters "blankets" due my -40 Celsius-climate dialect hitting my husband's +40 Celsius-climate dialect, where everything is a blanket). Showering beforehand doesn't work, I just start shivering as soon as I get approach the bed. I'm not just experiencing a sensation of cold; I am apparently shockingly cold to the touch when I first get into bed. My husband always sleeps with a fan on at home, year-round, so that's covered.

I'll try pyjamas and socks first, and sleeping with a towel under me so I don't wake up in an unpleasantly cold puddle of sweat that I can't do anything about.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:07 AM on August 13, 2018

I occasionally have the heat-regulation problem, too. Is your head sweaty when you wake up, as well as your body? If so, you may want to look into pillows that are cooler. I've had good luck with chopped up memory foam filled ones, but others might have better suggestions. If my head is too hot, it makes the rest of me sweaty and gross in my sleep.

I also like a heated mattress pad to pre-heat the bed, but that turns itself off after an hour. Warm, but not hot, bed + cool pillow + ceiling fan is a good combination.
posted by zoetrope at 9:31 AM on August 13, 2018

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