Last Updated on: 1st October 2023, 12:30 pm
Despite the feelings of contentment that blankets bring, there’s a compelling argument that we may sleep better without them. That’s because blankets increase our body temperature.
While this is initially comforting, blankets may delay the onset of deep, restorative sleep.
Blankets can prolong the process of waking up in the morning, increasing the likelihood of grogginess and struggles starting the day.
Blankets can also attract allergens that irritate the nose and throat while we sleep, potentially leading to snoring, sleep apnea, and even nosebleeds.
By keeping yourself cool at night without blankets, you’ll respond better to nocturnal disturbances, benefit from clearer skin, and may lose weight while you sleep.
Sleeping without blankets won’t appeal to everybody, and you should steadily transition. You shouldn’t go from a 15-tog comforter to no blanket overnight.
Why Do Humans Need Blankets to Sleep?
The use of blankets to sleep is primarily psychological. As children who feel apprehensive in the dark, we can convince ourselves that no harm can come to us if we stay under the blanket at bedtime.
Even as adults, many people struggle to sleep without an upper layer.
The body is governed by circadian rhythms that tell us when to wake up and sleep. Our body temperature steadily drops from midday onward, which can lead to an afternoon energy crash.
When bedtime arrives, we feel cold and seek comfort from a weighted blanket. When we crawl under a blanket, the body relaxes and releases melatonin (the sleep hormone).
It could be argued that blankets are harmful to our sleep cycles. We’d sleep better without blankets if we took appropriate measures to moderate our room and body temperatures.
Unfortunately, the mental barrier of needing some cover and struggling to feel that a bedtime routine is complete without a blanket is hard to break.
What Happens if You Sleep Without a Blanket?
Sleeping without a blanket may seem unappealing, especially during the colder months. There are undeniable advantages to sleeping without covers, including the following:
One of the purposes of a blanket is to remain snug and warm when climbing into bed. While this feels comfortable initially, it can prevent us from sleeping.
The Journal of Physiological Anthropology explains how a warm body temperature can increase feelings of wakefulness and delay the steady descent into slow-wave sleep.
You may feel toasty, but you’re less likely to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
For some people, sleeping in a cold room is a non-starter. You’ll struggle to get comfortable enough to doze off if you’re shivering. This doesn’t mean that sleeping without a blanket is impossible.
Most body heat is lost through extremities, so replacing a blanket with bed socks and gloves may help. Also, consider getting a smart mattress that warms a bed before you climb in.
Freedom of Movement
Some people enjoy the freedom of movement associated with sleeping unclothed.
By sleeping naked, you can’t become tangled up in your clothing. You’ll benefit from additional flexibility if you remove blankets from a bed.
However, psychological comfort comes from sleeping under a weighted blanket. If this doesn’t apply to you, the extra freedom to move will be welcomed.
Adoption of Unconventional Sleep Patterns
Sleeping without a blanket can be beneficial if you have an unconventional sleep pattern.
While most of us follow a monophasic sleep pattern, heading to bed at night and rising 8 hours later, others may rest for shorter periods. Examples include:
- Everyman sleep – Sleeping for 3 hours at night and taking 2-3 naps during the day.
- Uberman sleep – Sleeping for 3 hours at night and getting 6 x 30-minute naps during the day.
- Dymaxion sleep – Only resting for 2 hours at night and taking naps up to 6 times during the day.
Losing blankets will make life easier if you follow one of these unconventional sleep patterns.
Less Grogginess in the Morning
Grogginess, known as sleep inertia, is always expected in the morning.
You’ll need to adapt as your body and brain move from the tranquility of sleep to the harsh reality of waking. Sleeping without a blanket can expedite this transition.
Almost everybody finds it harder to wake up and get motivated on a cold winter morning.
The warm temperatures afforded by a blanket keep us safe from the harsh temperatures you’ll experience when your feet touch the floor.
If you wake up feeling cool, your head will likely clear much faster. Within a few minutes of opening your eyes, you’ll find yourself able to think sharply.
This may sound unappealing, but it’s a way to motivate yourself to get out of bed.
This will prevent you from hitting the snooze alarm. If you fall asleep again, you’ll be wrenched from a sleep cycle after just 10 minutes, thus feeling groggier than ever.
Reduced Risk of Allergens
According to Pneumologie, inhaling allergens affects sleep apnea. While awake, we can manage our reaction to allergens in a bedroom environment.
This could involve blowing our nose and clearing our airways before bed or avoiding prolonged contact with anything likely to provoke an allergic reaction.
While asleep, it’s impossible to play an active role in controlling allergic reactions.
This means that swelling in the throat or other responses can become problematic. Sleeping under a blanket makes you likelier to be exposed to airborne allergens.
Dust mites burrow into thick blankets, and pet dander can settle on a blanket that isn’t cleaned and aired. For example, you may have a pet bird in your bedroom.
There’s always a chance that allergens can remain in the atmosphere or attach themselves to bedsheets. Thick blankets are likelier to hoard allergens, especially if not washed frequently.
Losing weight while you sleep is possible if you sleep without a blanket.
A study from NIH Research Matters found that a month of exposure to cooler overnight temperatures led to a 10% rise in metabolic activity and an increase of 42% in brown adipose tissue (brown fat).
Brown fat is how the body stays warm without movement. Mammals that hibernate rely on brown fat to survive the winter. By sleeping in cooler climes, you burn 10% more fat than you under a blanket.
Improved Skin Condition
Wrapping yourself in thick, synthetic fibers may feel cozy, but it can play havoc with the skin. Blankets trap heat around the body, leading to sweating.
Sweating can clog the pores and dry the skin, causing acne outbreaks. These are known as sweat pimples and must be treated like other dermatological concerns.
Less Laundry To Wash
Sleeping without blankets means you’ll have less laundry, especially if you sleep without nightclothes. You’ll sweat less while you sleep, reducing the need to wash bedsheets.
You’ll have a smaller utility bill and won’t need to buy as much detergent and conditioner. A minimal laundry approach means bedsheets last longer, as they’re going through a cycle with reduced frequency.
There are also environmental benefits to sleeping without a blanket.
As the Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences explains, cutting down on laundry cycles reduces water use by 60%. The CO2 emissions of laundry are the equivalent of 12% of cars on the road.
Is It Better to Sleep With or Without a Blanket?
If you plan to sleep without blankets, don’t go from wrapping yourself in a warm comforter to offering no protection from the cold. Transitioning from sleep with a blanket to without is a gradual process.
If you sleep with a wool blanket over a comforter, adapt to life without the former. Once you can sleep this way comfortably, reduce the tog rating of your comforter.
Follow these steps until you no longer miss the warmth associated with blankets, and manage the psychological component of sleeping with covers in whatever way you see fit.
Sleeping without blankets is unimaginable because our minds and bodies are conditioned to expect covers at night. Given time, we adapt to sleeping without blankets and can benefit from doing so.