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New Products for Better Sleep

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Getting a good night’s sleep is tough if your partner is a blanket hog or a relentless snorer. It’s even harder when you can’t find a happy compromise on the best bedroom temperature.

Temperature is one of the trickiest issues to resolve when it comes to sleep. Some people are polar bears—they get their best sleep when the bedroom is refrigerator-cold. Others are lizards—they’re happiest when they can strip off their clothes and sleep in tropical warmth.

Problems arise when polar bears and lizards sleep in the same bed. No matter where you set the thermostat, it’s likely that one of you won’t be completely comfortable.

What’s new: Sleep products, including temperature-regulating mattresses, that allow you to create the environment that’s best for you and your partner. If you sleep alone, these products also may help by giving you the ability to control the temperature so that you can optimize the quality of your sleep.

COOLER USUALLY IS BETTER

Most people get their best sleep when the room temperature is in the 60°F-to-70°F range. Even though your body temperature is slightly lower at night than during the day, your bed is warmer than body temperature because it absorbs and traps your body heat.

The problem with heat: Studies have shown that people who sleep in a too-warm environment tend to have a longer sleep-onset latency (the time that it takes to fall asleep) and more arousals (awakenings) than those who are cooler.

For those who overheat, there’s no easy solution. You can lower the thermostat, but your partner might suffer. You can sleep blanket-free, but the bed will still trap your body heat. You can take a cool shower before bed. Or if you like to take a warm bath to relax, your body temperature will cool once you’re out of the tub. But for many people, these measures aren’t real solutions to the problem.

Not just a gender issue: Many men and hot-flash-prone menopausal women are known for being “hot sleepers,” but people who are overweight and those with fast metabolisms also tend to overheat—and it’s often an undetected cause of poor sleep in these individuals.

FINDING YOUR PERSONAL CLIMATE ZONE

Manufacturers have recently introduced mattresses and other sleep products that are designed to keep the bed a few degrees—or, in some cases, many degrees—cooler than room temperature. If you and your partner cannot agree on the ideal temperature, you might want to look at products that control each side of the bed separately.

Important: Some temperature-controlled sleep products are quite expensive, and there’s no conclusive scientific evidence that they’ll improve the quality of your sleep. But they may be a good choice for people who can’t cool or heat the room as much as they would like—especially if they are about to buy a new mattress.

Remember: Most mattresses should be replaced about every seven years—or if they begin to show signs of wear (sags or lumps) and/or you regularly awaken with stiffness and aches.

Helpful sleep products—listed from least to most expensive…

  • Iso-Cool memory foam pillow. If you’re not ready to replace your mattress but would like to try a product designed to improve your sleep quality, this pillow may be a good option. It adapts to your body’s temperature with microscopic beads that absorb or release heat as needed. The 300-thread-count cover is hypoallergenic. Cost: $37 and up. SleepBetter.org
  • ChiliPad. This temperature-controlled mattress pad may be the next best thing to getting a new mattress. The pad, from Chili Technology, circulates water at temperatures ranging from 46°F to 118°F. You can adjust the water temperature in one-degree increments. If you get the dual-control model, you adjust each side of the bed separately. Cost: $399 and up. ChiliTechnology.com
  • Sealy Optimum. The well-known mattress maker has designed a new line for sleepers who are always migrating from one part of the bed to another in their all-night search for a cool spot.

People who use first-generation memory foam mattresses often complain that they get too hot. Newer mattresses, made with what Sealy calls OptiCool gel memory foam, draw heat away from the body, and the multilayer structure is designed to absorb motion, for firm, comfortable support. Cost: $1,299 and up. Sealy.com

  • BluTek. This line of mattresses is designed to circulate air. It’s almost like adding a fan to the mattress—the more the air circulates, the cooler the mattress will be.

The mattress is filled with pinholes that allow trapped heat inside to escape. It also has a permeable fabric along the edges that allows air to move sideways. According to the manufacturer, the mattress cools off much more quickly than standard mattresses do. Cost: $1,499 and up.

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Source:  Joseph M. Ojile, MD, clinical professor of medicine at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Ojile is also founder and CEO of Clayton Sleep Institute and president of the Clayton Sleep Research Foundation, ClaytonSleep.com, in St. Louis. Dr. Ojile serves on the board of directors of the National Sleep Foundation. Date: January 1, 2014 Publication: Bottom Line Health
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