Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Louise Carter
Some of us prefer to sleep on top of the covers and avoid contact with them, while others prefer to sleep underneath bedsheets, leaving no exposure to the outside world.
Sleeping with your head under the covers offers protection from external stimulation, dulling any light and muffling sounds, making sleeping easier at night.
Also, sleeping under the covers keeps us warm, reduces muscular pain in the neck, and enhances feelings of psychological security.
Sleeping with your head under the covers carries risks, so this position isn’t suitable for everybody.
Why Do I Like to Sleep with My Head Under the Covers?
Everybody has a preferred sleeping position, although it usually revolves around whether we lie on our back, side, or stomach. One thing less often discussed is the use of blankets.
Some people can’t sleep with blankets and covers anywhere near their faces. However, others only feel comfortable if blankets cover them from head to toe.
If you fall into the latter category, there could be many reasons why you feel comfortable with your head under the covers. Reasons people sleep with their head under the cover include:
- Dulling of light or noise in your vicinity.
- Feelings of security.
- Warmth is afforded by enclosing the head.
The British Medical Journal considers covering the head an avoidable symptom of sudden infant death syndrome, but some adults feel comfortable sleeping this way.
Advantages of Sleeping with the Head Under the Covers
If you find it difficult to sleep without completely covering your head with bedsheets, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal, and it could even benefit your health.
One of the main reasons to sleep with the head under the covers is the lack of distractions around you.
If you’re a sensitive person or light sleeper, the world can be filled with lights and sounds that prevent you from nodding off.
Sleeping with your head under the covers won’t provide complete sensory deprivation, but it can help you sleep.
It’ll block out light from streetlights outside the window and could muffle noise from street traffic.
Sleeping this way can bolster the human immune system. Theoretically, this makes little sense as you’ll breathe in stale and recycled air.
This is true, but you’ll also breathe in warm air, which will reduce your risk of developing respiratory infections, such as the common cold and influenza.
Neck Protection and Healing
According to Spine, 13.8% of adults report chronic neck pain that lasts at least 6 months.
Some of the most frequent causes of neck pain include:
- Muscular strains are usually caused by poor posture when seated at a computer.
- Musculoskeletal concerns include osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Whiplash and soft tissue injuries are caused by excessive neck movement.
- Compressed nerves, including bone spurs or herniated discs.
These conditions will need medical intervention to resolve permanently. Sleeping with your head under the covers can be a helpful step toward achieving this aim.
This position will protect the neck, in addition to offering more warmth.
The neck isn’t exposed to cold air, so it’ll remain comfortable. Sleeping this way can provide the same comfort as a scarf or snood for a sore neck.
Whether you’re struggling to nod off or are awoken many times by unwelcome thoughts or worries, psychological strain can negatively impact your ability to rest.
Placing the head under the covers creates a sense of safety and calm for some people. This dates back to childhood when many of us hide from perceived threats by hiding under a blanket.
Placing your head under the covers will also trigger a psychological reaction like ‘swaddling’ an infant. Experts claim that this feels comforting as it reminds us of the womb.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to everybody. For example, if you have claustrophobia, wrapping yourself up in bedsheets may create feelings of panic and discomfort.
Disadvantages of Sleeping with the Head Under the Covers
Despite the benefits, you need to consider the hazards:
We discussed how sleeping with your head under the covers helps you rest, as it blocks light and sound. While that’s usually beneficial, it could lead to dulled reactions in an emergency.
If you can’t hear clearly because your head is under the covers, you may not be able to hear a fire alarm or similar warning sound. Equally, you can’t react quickly if tangled up in bedsheets.
Arguably, the most significant hazard is the limit it places on oxygen. It’s always easier to take a deep breath and enjoy a lungful of clean air when our mouths and faces aren’t covered.
This restricted oxygen will send a warning signal to the brain, potentially waking you up multiple times at night. This broken sleep will quickly grow frustrating and take its toll on your health in the morning.
Under extreme circumstances, you could even risk severe sickness. Essays in Biochemistry correlate hypoxia (a lack of oxygen to critical organs, including the brain) to Alzheimer’s disease.
Risk of Breathing Disorders
Sleeping this way magnifies the risk of asthma or COPD. You’ll be breathing in bacteria and germs under your sheets without the ability to expel the used air and breathe in clean air.
If you have a respiratory issue, this will become problematic. At best, you’ll be woken up in the struggle for breath. Even more concerning is the possibility of suffocation.
You’ll exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms. Sleeping with your head covered will likely muffle snoring sounds, but the hazards to your breathing must be addressed.
According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, heat from the body is lost through the head. However, by covering this body part, thermal regulation is more consistent.
Under ordinary circumstances, this is a good thing because few of us enjoy feeling cold.
The body must cool off overnight, so wrapping yourself under the covers can disrupt sleep. It’s better to sleep in cool conditions than somewhere hot and stifling.
If you need to stay warm while sleeping, use a hot water bottle or another temporary measure. Then, lift your head out from the covers.
This is more likely to keep you comfortable without disturbing your sleep as the night wears on.
How To Safely Sleep with Your Head Under the Covers
To safely sleep with your head under the covers, follow these steps:
- Keep the blanket loose. Don’t mummify yourself in a blanket – keep it flexible enough to be breathable. A thin material on the sheets, like silk, is beneficial.
- Lay on your back. It’s less likely that you’ll get wrapped up in a blanket and restrict your breathing.
- Lightweight cover. While sleeping under a heavyweight duvet in the winter may be tempting, stick with light covers to aid breathing. Use heavier blankets further down the bed for warmth.
- Keep the area above your head clear. Don’t erect shelves or anything that could drop on your head.
If sleeping with your head under the covers makes you feel secure and ensures you sleep well, there’s nothing wrong with the position. Just ensure that you can do so safely.