The fan at it's max speed, windows open and blanket on. We've all been there. But why is it that we have this compulsive need to sleep with a blanket? Why can't we sleep without a blanket?
You could have just the edge of the blanket over your chest, or one leg in and one leg out but the blanket has to be involved in one way or another. It could be a 100 degrees outside, but the blanket stays.
Sleeping with blankets is a relatively new phenomenon. Historically, blankets were expensive. Through the Middle Ages, Europeans only owned blankets if they were very wealthy. The bedding was passed down in people’s wills. Most people slept in the same bed as the rest of the household to keep warm. But as fabric became cheaper and blankets more accessible, they became more commonplace household items.
Why Do We Love Our Blankets So Much?
“Our circadian rhythm is tied to temperature, and a drop in core body temperature happens right before sleep,” explained Ellen Wermter, a board-certified family nurse practitioner in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council.
When you fall asleep, your body temperature drops so the body can focus on other important functions like digestion.
During REM sleep, our body can’t regulate its own temperature. Most people tend to be in the REM stage of sleep during dawn when temperatures are the coldest. So even if it’s pretty hot when we fall asleep, we wake up shivering at 4 a.m. if we don’t have a blanket.
But there is also another reason, sleeping with a blanket tends to decrease anxiety and stress, because gentle pressure can stimulate serotonin production. Serotonin has been found to help modulate sleep regulation, which is a big part of the reason that depression and insomnia are linked because when you’re depressed your serotonin levels are low.
Another common reason is the basic fundamental of conditioning. As babies, our parents always covered us up with blankets to keep us warm and sleep better, and now as adults, we're conditioned to sleep the same way.
And most of us associate safety with blankets because we're conditioned to. Remember when we covered ourselves up with blankets so we could feel safe from all the demons and ghosts? Yep, your body still believes that subconsciously at least.
If you can sleep without a blanket, you're probably superhuman. Sleep scientists are very supportive of the rest of us using blankets even in extreme heat, it's just good sense!