Despite the feelings of contentment that blankets bring, there’s a compelling argument that we would sleep better without them. Blankets increase our body temperature, which is initially comforting but can delay the onset of deep, restorative sleep.
Blankets can also prolong the process of waking in the morning, increasing the chances of grogginess and struggles to start the day. Blankets can also attract allergens that irritate the nose and throat while we sleep, leading to snoring, sleep apnea, and even nosebleeds.
By keeping yourself cool at night without blankets, you can respond quickly to any nocturnal disturbances, will enjoy clearer skin, and may even lose weight while you sleep.
Sleeping without blankets will never appeal to everybody, and you should steadily transition into this approach if it interests you. Don’t go from a 13-tog comforter to no blanket overnight. Slowly evolve into sleeping without blankets until it becomes second nature.
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 convince ourselves that no harm can come to us if we stay under a blanket at bedtime. Even as adults, many people struggle to sleep without an upper layer.
The human body is governed by circadian rhythms that tell us when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep. Typically, our body temperature steadily drops from midday onward, which is why so many people struggle with an afternoon energy crash.
When bedtime eventually rolls around, we feel cold and seek comfort that a weighted blanket can only provide. When we crawl under a blanket, the body relaxes and releases melatonin, commonly known as the sleep hormone.
In reality, it could be argued that blankets do more harm than good to our sleep cycles. If we take appropriate steps to moderate ambient and body temperatures, we’ll sleep better without blankets.
Unfortunately, the mental barrier of needing some cover, and struggling to feel that a bedtime routine is complete without it, is hard to break. If you wish to experiment with sleeping without a blanket, it may help to understand the advantages of doing so.
What Happens if You Sleep without a Blanket?
Sleeping without a blanket may seem unappealing, especially during the cooler months. There are undeniably some advantages to sleeping without covers, though.
1/ Temperature Regulation
One of the biggest purposes of a blanket is to keep us feeling snug and warm when climbing into bed. While this may feel 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 eight 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 of our body heat at bedtime is lost through extremities, so replacing a blanket with bed socks and gloves may help. Equally, consider investing in a smart mattress than warms a bed before you climb in, timed to cool down again after you doze off.
2/ 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 enjoy even more flexibility if you remove blankets from a bed.
Not everybody will consider this to be a positive step. As discussed, psychological comfort comes from sleeping under a weighted blanket. If this doesn’t apply to you, the freedom to move will be welcomed.
Sleeping without a blanket means you’ll be able to move quickly if you’re startled at night. If you sleep with an older pet in the room and you’re worried they may need the bathroom at short notice, you’ll be able to respond in the blink of an eye.
3/ Adoption of Unconventional Sleep Patterns
Sleeping without a blanket can be beneficial if you follow an unconventional sleep pattern.
While most of us follow a monophasic sleep pattern – heading to bed at night and rising eight hours later – others may for shorter periods. Examples include:
- Everyman sleep – Dozing for three hours at night and taking two or three naps during the day.
- Uberman sleep – Sleeping for three hours at night and getting six 30-minute naps through the day.
- Dymaxion sleep – Only resting for around two hours at night and taking longer snoozes up to six times across the day.
If you prefer to follow one of these unconventional sleep patterns, losing blankets will make it considerably easier to get up and do your business with minimal fuss.
4/ Less Grogginess in the Morning
A little grogginess, also known as sleep inertia, is always expected in the morning. You’ll need to adapt as your body and brain move from the peace of slumber to the reality of waking. Sleeping without a blanket can speed up the transition.
Almost everybody finds it harder to wake up and get motivated on a cold winter morning. The warm temperatures afforded by a blanket create a safe haven compared to 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 – even if that thought is “I am cold, staying in bed isn’t comfortable.”
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, which is risky. If you doze off again, you’ll be wrenched from a sleep cycle after just ten minutes, thus feeling groggier than ever.
5/ Reduced Risk of Allergens
Exposure to allergens can be a significant problem when sleeping at night. According to Pneumologie, inhaling allergens can play a prominent role in sleep apnea. This condition is potentially dangerous and leads to disturbed sleep for anybody sharing a bed at best.
While awake, we can manage our reaction to allergens in a bedroom environment. This could be blowing the nose and clearing 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. Be mindful of this, as swelling in the throat or other responses can become problematic. If you sleep under a blanket, you’re likelier to be exposed to allergens in the air.
Dust mites love to burrow into thick blankets, and pet dander can settle into a blanket that isn’t regularly cleaned, beaten, and aired.
Of course, there’s always a chance that allergens can remain in the atmosphere or attach themselves to bedsheets. Thick blankets are likelier to hoard problematic allergens, especially if not washed frequently.
6/ Faster Metabolism
The idea of losing weight while you sleep may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s possible if you sleep without a blanket.
A study from NIH Research Matters found that a month of exposure to cooler temperatures overnight leads to a 10% rise in metabolic activity and an increase of 42% in brown adipose tissue, aka brown fat.
Brown fat may sound unappealing, but it’s how the body stays warm without movement. Mammals that hibernate rely on brown fat to make it through winter. By sleeping in cooler climes, you burn 10% more traditional fat than you would under a blanket.
7/ Improved Skin Condition
Wrapping yourself up in thick, synthetic fibers may feel cozy, but it can play havoc with the skin. Blankets trap heat around the body, and that leads to sweating.
Sweating, in turn, can clog the pores and dry out the skin, causing acne outbreaks. These are known as sweat pimples and must be treated the same as any dermatological concern.
As adult acne can be challenging to clear up. This is one of the reasons sleeping without a blanket can be advisable, especially if you have sensitive skin.
8/ Less Laundry To Wash
Sleeping without blankets means you’ll have less laundry, especially if you also sleep without nightclothes. You’ll sweat less while you sleep, reducing the need to wash bedsheets.
You’ll save money, as you will run up smaller utility bills and no longer need to regularly purchase detergent and other materials. A minimal laundry approach also means your bedsheets will last longer, as they are 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%. In comparison, the CO2 emissions of laundry are akin to 12% of cars on the road.
Is it Better to Sleep With or Without a Blanket?
Having discussed the advantages of sleeping without a blanket, you may wonder, “is sleeping without a blanket good?” That’s entirely a matter of personal discretion. Some people will enjoy many benefits from ditching blankets, while others will find it difficult.
If you plan to try sleeping without blankets, don’t go from wrapping yourself in a warm comforter to offering no protection from the cold at all. Transitioning from sleep with a blanket to without should be a gradual process.
Start by reducing any additional layer from your bed. For example, 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.
Keeping following 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. If that involves sleeping with stuffed animals or changing your choice of nightwear, so be it.
Sleeping without blankets can seem initially horrifying, primarily because our brains and bodies are conditioned to expect covers at night. With time and training, anybody can adapt to sleeping without blankets and benefit from doing so.