Staying warm at night
August 19, 2019 3:38 PM   Subscribe

So I live alone and therefore sleep by myself . I get cold easily due to the minus temperatures we get in this part of Australia. I tried adding a sleeping bag to my regular duvet but it kept falling off, so I bought two wool blankets, but they also fall off. I can’t afford to keep the heater on all night but am using it for a few hours in the evening, as well as wearing pyjamas. What else can I do to stay warm enough overnight?
posted by EatMyHat to Home & Garden (49 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Can you clarify why more blankets fall off?
posted by sevensnowflakes at 3:42 PM on August 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

You can layer up on the pajamas. Long underwear is very useful. Bonus: won't fall off!
posted by acidnova at 3:43 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hot water bottle? Heating pad?
posted by lucasks at 3:48 PM on August 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've found that flannel sheets are "grippier" than regular sheets, and you can put a flannel divet cover over a comforter (and get one that's oversized) so it's less likely to fall off. Other tips from someone who likes sleeping cocooned in a cold room

- sleeping hat - heat escapes from your head, don't let it
- mattress pad warmer - can't fall off, cheaper than a heater (alternately a hot water bottle by your feet)
- sleeping IN the sleeping bag, not under it
- platform bed, it's warmer towards the top of the room
posted by jessamyn at 3:48 PM on August 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

An electrically heated mattress pad takes very little energy (especially compared to a room heater) and can't fall off.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 3:49 PM on August 19, 2019 [13 favorites]

You can get electric heated mattress pads! Much better than just shoving a heating pad in bed.
posted by stellaluna at 3:49 PM on August 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

sleeping cap.
posted by crush at 3:52 PM on August 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Wool underlay thing.
posted by pompomtom at 3:53 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Omg, make a rice sock. Last year, my sister took a sock, filled it with rice, sewed the end shut, and gave it to me. It's seriously one of the top five gifts I've ever gotten. You chuck rice sock in the microwave for three minutes. Then you throw it under the covers, down by your feet. This thing will heat up your whole bed. It's the best.

A water bottle also works but... water bottles are a pain to fill, they always leak, and they stay warm for twenty minutes and then cool down.

A heating pad would work but... I"m nervous about having something electric plugged in under me all night. And they are costing you money and could always break.

I'm telling you, make a rice sock.
posted by silverstatue at 3:54 PM on August 19, 2019 [29 favorites]

Merino wool long underwear + actual proper down comforter, like Feathered Friends. You can't have one of the latter or you wouldn't be cold.
posted by praemunire at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

They're falling off because you've become too hot and are pushing them off. And then you wake up because you've cooled down again.

Tuck them in around the edges.
posted by zadcat at 3:59 PM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Heated mattress pads are amazing
posted by radioamy at 4:00 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Socks and a hat for sure.
posted by gryphonlover at 4:02 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Omg - Nthing an electric blanket (aka mattress pad). Life changing - not only warm but just a lovely sensation to snuggle into bed with a warm blanket beneath you when it's cold. Qualitatively different (better!) than just a hot water bottle.

Also, if you're using extra layers eg. blankets, they need to go under the duvet, not on top, if you want all the layers to stay with you through the night.
posted by penguin pie at 4:03 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nthing putting the extra layers under the duvet and above the top sheet (if you use one) and flannel sheets.
posted by amapolaroja at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

They're falling off because you've become too hot and are pushing them off.

This is why, counter-intuitively, you may have better luck with one blanket staying on instead of two.
posted by zamboni at 4:10 PM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

What kind of doona are you using? I highly recommend down as I find it regulates temperature really well.
posted by kitten magic at 4:10 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Let me be the fourth or fifth to say a heated mattress pad. I bought one based on advice I read here on an earlier askme and it has been a glorious experience. No more cold feet ever.
posted by Cuke at 4:14 PM on August 19, 2019

Electric blanket, though I do find that I overheat if I leave it on all night. Hot water bottles work too, but I find the heat too localised when I'm really cold. I also have an electric throw for the couch, and when I'm really cold, I sandwich myself between the two on the bed.

Tucking the blankets in on the side of the bed that you don't use, as well as the bottom, should at least keep them on the bed to be easily retrieved if they fall off you.

I put two quilts in my quilt cover in winter, I've sewed some short shoe laces along the top edge and tied them together to keep them from getting so confused. A down comforter is a marvellous thing, but will take a year or two for the electricity savings to make it worth it.

Lastly, wool socks. Wool hat too, if you can keep it on.
posted by kjs4 at 4:27 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thickest down doona from IKEA. The one that is actually two doonas clipped together inside the cover. Plus multiple hot water bottles (one for your feet, one on your thighs and one to cuddle). Fleece or wool hat (beanie), thick socks, and if you really need it as well, one of those plush plug in electric blankets that goes over the top of you. Put that under the doona until you warm up.

Thick flannel PJs.

I have slept like that in the South Island of NZ in a house without heating, in Canberra for many years, and also when camping in winter.
posted by lollusc at 4:27 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have freezing cold toes in the winter and love my hot water bottle. I have a “Fashy” brand one with a cashmere cover (!) and it’s never leaked and is still a little warm in the morning.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 4:29 PM on August 19, 2019

Another vote for a heated mattress pad. Most have extra coils at the bottom so you get more heat down by your feet. Turn it on a few minutes before you go to bed, and then snuggle in. Life changing!
posted by bookmammal at 4:31 PM on August 19, 2019

Insert the wool blankets inside the duvet, or underneath it?
posted by bunderful at 4:32 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I lived alone in a poorly insulated basement suite and it was -30 C outside*, the only thing that kept me warm at night was going to bed with a version of the heated rice bag that silverstatue mentioned, wearing thick, long sleeved fleece pajamas, wool socks, and a wool hat. The socks and hat definitely made a difference. I don't remember if I ever wore mitts but I probably did when it went down to -40.

*I realize this sounds like a nightmare cross between a Dickens novel and "To Build A Fire," but it wasn't actually that bad most of the time.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:40 PM on August 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

Zip that sleeping bag.
posted by at at 4:44 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you're not wearing socks to bed you should definitely be wearing socks to bed.
posted by phunniemee at 4:49 PM on August 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Down boots with silk socks.
posted by effluvia at 5:34 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is basically seconding everything at this point, but:

Rice bag if you have a microwave. I LOVE MINE.
Socks *but* they cannot be tight around the lower legs or they will make your feet colder.
Hat. Hat hat hat. Hat. (I am not saying you should wear five hats, merely emphasising their wondrousness.)
Long underwear / thermals (what you would use as a base layer for tramping, say) rather than loose pyjamas, in merino if you can get/afford it.

Any extra blankets should be under the duvet.

When I'm sleeping in a cold space I like to take a sleeping bag or puffer jacket and make a big fluffy cave for my head, and then fuss around with it until there's a tunnel for fresh air that's not directly pointed at my face. There is no shame in sleeping with your coat over your head, seriously.
posted by inexorably_forward at 5:52 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm in Tassie. Kmart has cheap but effective thick quilted pads that go on like a fitted sheet that are great.

Nth electric heated sheet or blanket under the doona. I turn mine on while I shower and brush my teeth, and turn it off when I climb in. Because I don't have to heat up a cold bed with my body, maintaining warmth is much easier.

I also sleep in long underwear - heattech line at Uniqlo.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:00 PM on August 19, 2019

Fold a large duvet/comforter in half and sleep between the two layers. Tuck a fuzzy fleece blanket within the taco, covering you. Have another on top of the whole thing. Wear long wooly socks. I do some/all of these things depending on the time of year and it works well!
posted by sweetpotato at 8:06 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

More doonas but especially bigger doonas. It takes more work than most sleeping bodies can be bothered doing to shrug or kick a king size doona off a body on a double or queen mattress. Single doonas are almost completely useless if you tend to roll over in your sleep: the ratio of doona on body to doona on bedding is such that the doona will always want to follow you instead of staying put. If most of your doona hangs over the sides, it will resist being dragged about as well as making it really hard for cold air to sneak in under the edges, while still being light and mobile enough to avoid that strapped-into-bed feeling that comes with tucked-in sheets and blankets.

Sleep nude. If you feel like you need pyjamas to stay warm then you just don't have enough doonas on. Once you do have enough doonas on, a naked body will warm the entirety of the air space underneath them much faster than a clothed one can, making it not matter where you wriggle to in the night. There's also more friction between doona and pyjamas than between a doona and skin, so pyjama wearers are more likely to dislodge their covers overnight.

Pre-warm the bed with a hot water bottle at the foot end so that the circulation in your legs doesn't shut down in an attempt to maintain your core temperature for you. Once you've got warm feet under enough doona to keep that warmth in, they'll stay warm all night even after the hottie cools down. Use a hot water bottle with a fluffy cover and fill it to maximum capacity with boiling water in defiance of common sense and the manufacturer's explicit warnings. If it's not still at least lukewarm nine hours later, you're not using enough doonas.
posted by flabdablet at 8:26 PM on August 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

Once you do have enough doonas on, a naked body will warm the entirety of the air space underneath them much faster than a clothed one can

QFT. But also loose wool socks; soak feet in hot water before bedtime if necessary.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:50 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hot water bottle and cover. Someone else mentioned them cooling after 20 minutes. I fill mine with boiled water from the kettle despite all the stern warnings and they've still got some heat when we get up in the morning. They're less than $10. On a really cold night we'll put one in at dinner time to pre-warm the foot area and then I'll bring in another one at bedtime. Stay warm way longer than a heat bag. Works on the couch.

Are the blankets long enough to firmly tuck in? If I don't tuck a lot of cold air drafts in under the edge of the blanket. Firm tucking in at the foot area makes a huge difference.

While personal heating is way more energy efficient, there might be some simple things you can do regarding the energy efficiency of the space that could raise the ambient temperature and make the room more comfortable.
Consider -> floor length blackout curtains, rugs if a hard floor, draught snake, sealing draughts. If you have huge windows in the room you sleep in and can't afford high density curtains, you can reduce heat loss by tacking up cardboard or a wool blanket over the glass as insulation.
posted by chiquitita at 8:57 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

To reaffirm the utility of hot water bottles, this morning I couldn't use the water to water my plants when I got up as it was still too warm!
posted by chiquitita at 9:17 PM on August 19, 2019

Potentially off topic: Blown-in insulation is quite effective (my house was uninsulated until I had it blown-in) and quite affordable in communities that are large enough to support the specialists. If you own, consider it. I figure I’ve roughly halved my gas bill (heating) and cut electricity by a third (cooling), although I also got better windows around the same timeframe that complicates my math so.....
posted by aramaic at 9:25 PM on August 19, 2019

Nthing heated mattress pads. They are unspeakably luxurious. Like, seriously, it feels like I must be the fuckin' king or something. They feel so good I'm surprised The Church isn't fighting to make them illegal.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:09 PM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thermal underwear, socks, possibly a beanie? Hot water bottle/s. Keep edges of blankets tucked under mattress, doona on top of blankets. The sleeping bag falls off because it's very light-weight, try putting something heavy on one edge? Or do it up and get inside it.
posted by Coaticass at 10:54 PM on August 19, 2019

Bundle up well, but stick one foot out in the cold. Unless you're in danger of frostbite or such because your room is literally freezing you're probably getting too hot and tossing and turning until you end up waking up too cold. Your hands and head don't count in this equation because your body will do whatever needed to keep them. Your foot however is the perfect thing to leave dangling in the wind as both a way for your body to actually gauge the temperature (remember head and hands don't count) and a perfect temperature regulation device. If you get cold, the core cranks up the heat and shuts down blood to the foot. If you get hot the core dumps blood and heat out that foot.

If you really want hot, layer a sheet, layer newspaper or cardboard on top, and another top sheet to hold it in place. You'll wake up covered in sweat because you're warm blooded and insulation to such extreme will leave you in a 37C oven.

Try just sticking a foot out. As long as it's not *too* cold (you're worried about your pipes freezing) you might just have body temperature regulation issues because you pile on the insulation for initial comfort and end up over compensating while you sleep because you're really burning up and sweating and tossing off covers and then waking up cold.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:20 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Your hands and head don't count in this equation because your body will do whatever needed to keep them

YMMV on this. I find that sticking one arm out from under the covers works well to deal with being too hot. Unlike sticking out a foot, it's also never had me wake up uncomfortable if I fall asleep with it still stuck out.

I've taken my own advice and do sleep nude, which helps with rapid heat rejection from smallish areas left uncovered.

Some people also find it impossible to feel warm on a cold night unless they sleep with a beanie on; ms. flabdablet is that way. I can't do it - the itching! - but luckily don't need to.
posted by flabdablet at 1:10 AM on August 20, 2019

Heated pads, blankets etc made me sweat so much so I had to change the sheets. And getting out of bed wet when the temp is in the 30's is just awful (I turn the heat way down as I can't afford to run it all night).
I solved my being cold in bed problem just by wearing socks. Doesn't matter what kind. My bed clothes are a duvet and a wool blanket. I can't believe it took years and years to figure this out. Of course we're all different, some things will work for some but not others. Experiment using some of the great ideas above.
Good luck in finding a solution.
posted by james33 at 4:47 AM on August 20, 2019

You are in an alpine area, I presume; I an in a sub-alpine region, where temps get down to -10 to -12*c overnight. I sleep nude alone in a QS bed, nighttime interior temps drop down to 8-10*c (I turn heating off when I go to bed). I have a mattress protector, wool mattress underlay, flannelette sheets, a woollen blanket KS, and a QS goose down quilt. I sleep toasty. The underlay made a BIG difference, stops the heat escaping below. No water bottles, no electric blankets.

If I have company, I have to shed something because two people generate too much heat for comfort.
posted by GeeEmm at 5:28 AM on August 20, 2019

When I lived in a cold house in a cold climate I found that wearing an extra layer on my upper body made all the difference. I had a lovely wool pullover vest that did the trick for years. I hate wearing hats but did on occasion if it was really really cold.
posted by mareli at 5:31 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I tested with a thermometer, and for the same amount of microwave time, a lentil bag gets slightly warmer, but keeps the warmth longer than a rice bag/sock. If you can sew, I found a rectangular bag with the sides of a ratio approximating 3:5 get's the best thickness/length combo for putting inbetween one's thighs, where the body can easily absorb the warmth.

I agree with the others, you might be briefly getting too warm with 2x wool blankets and a duvet. My winter sleeping (with a window cracked open for fresh/cool air) is just a duvet, and a soft (but so static-y!) plush blanket under the duvet. The plushness creates a lot of air pockets, but the duvet adds enough weight and insulation that the air pockets get and stay warm. Plus, soft fuzzy blanket!

If you actually are just a super busy sleeper (I'm active enough that my wife calls my sleep process "wrestling bears") that the blankets are getting tossed even if you're cold at that moment, then I N'th the idea of putting the blankets in the duvet cover along with the duvet. If you put a duvet cover on correctly (turn it inside out, and then reverse it to normal over the duvet/blanket combo) the extra blankets aren't hard to get in the duvet cover.
posted by nobeagle at 5:49 AM on August 20, 2019

Great suggestions. You may also want to consider if you need two blankets over the whole length of your body. I need my feet to be warm but I can get too warm if my upper body is covered as well. So in winter I am good with my duvet. In spring/summer/autumn I use a combination of a linen sheet and a warm/extremely soft blanket. Even when it is hot I end up fully covered by the sheet, even if I also have a fan pointed at me as well because I like to be covered. If the temp is more moderate I may cover my feet or some/all of my legs up to my waist with the blanket as well. In spring/autumn the blanket can also cover all of me. If I need a 2nd blanket it’s time to bring out the duvet. So if there is a chance that the blankets come off because you end up too hot temporarily play around with number of blankets and how much you each covers.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:17 AM on August 20, 2019

Put the blankets or sleeping bag under the duvet. Wear wool socks and a wool hat to bed. Also consider putting on a second layer of pajamas. For example, sleep in a long underwear set under a sweatshirt and sweatpants. Together with the socks and hat, you should be pretty cozy.
posted by purple_bird at 9:36 AM on August 20, 2019

I live in New England, where it’s freezing 9 months of the year and people built houses to stay cool in summer rather than warm in fall/winter/spring.

The biggest thing for me is flannel sheets. On top of that, a light/mid weight comforter, and then, also very important, fleece blankets. The thin or “micro fleece” ones are good for layering 3-4 on top of one another and not feeling like you’re weighed down, as is the case with heavier blankets or comforters. I think they also keep you warmer because they’re closer to your body, rather than a huge puffy blanket that is stiffer and will always have sort of a layer of air above you.

Also, wear flannel pajamas or sweatpants and a sweatshirt lined with fleece-y material. Wear big fluffy fleece-y socks and tuck your pants into your socks so the pants can’t drift up and freeze your calves. Hoodies are good because you can wear the hood up, but I’ve also worn a soft fleece hat, which works too.

(You don’t mention mornings, but I get up an hour before I need to to turn the heat on and then go back to bed. This lets it heat the house & water enough that when I get up for real, I’m not showering, etc in a complete ice box.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:53 AM on August 20, 2019

Came to say rice sock works wonders for heating up cold spots like the feet and for easing achiness by just laying it over the ache. No need to be or know a seamstress. I poured a pound or so of long grain rice into an old tube sock and tied the end of it in a knot to close it.
posted by Gino on the Meta at 10:43 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the ideas! Last night I tried sleeping with a single blanket and it stayed on much better than when I was using both of them! And I wasn’t too cold like I would have predicted. I will keep the other suggestions in mind if this doesn’t work out, but so far so good!
posted by EatMyHat at 3:34 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

rice sock works wonders for heating up cold spots like the feet and for easing achiness by just laying it over the ache

Hot water bottle with a fluffy cover works for this as well, if you only part-fill it so that it flops over whatever bit of you it sits on. It won't retain heat for as long if part-filled though.
posted by flabdablet at 1:40 AM on August 21, 2019

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