Running hot and cold

Headshot of BedTimes Managing Editor Beth English
Beth English
Managing Editor

Ah, October

In my home state of North Carolina, October is such a changeable month. One day it can be warm and the next will have you reaching for your jacket. You never know if you should keep the AC on or switch it off until spring.

Thank goodness our bodies adjust, right?

Did you know there’s a certain time of day when our bodies aren’t able to adjust to changes in temperature? I recently ran across an article on Atlas-Obscura.com that discussed why nearly everyone feels the need to sleep with at least a sheet, even when its stifling inside your home. Some of it is behavioral, but it also has physiological roots: When we enter REM sleep, our bodies are no longer able to thermoregulate.

“You almost revert to a more, and this is my word, reptilian form of thermoregulation,” says Alice Hoagland, director of the insomnia clinic at the Unity Sleep Disorder Center in Rochester, New York. The article goes on to note: “She says ‘reptilian’ because reptiles are unable to regulate their own body temperature the way we mammals can; instead of sweating and shivering, reptiles have to adjust their temperature through external means, like moving into the sun or into cooler shadows. And for those brief periods of REM sleep, we all turn into lizards.”

So, the theory goes, people sleep with sheets and blankets to trap body heat when the night is at its coldest and people are unable to warm themselves by shivering.

Temperature and sleep are topics that seem to go hand in hand, especially in market showrooms. At the Summer Las Vegas Market, July 30-Aug. 3, temperatures outside soared well above 100 F. Inside the World Market Center, however, we heard much about keeping cool. Mattress makers talked of their product’s airflow and cooling fabrics or gels. Accessories such as pillows, protectors and sheets also offered a chill factor. At the end of a long summer day, nothing sounds more inviting than crawling into bed with cool-to-the-touch ticking and crisp, clean sheets.

But seasons do change, and cooler weather brings a desire for warmth and coziness. At the Las Vegas Market, I saw dual-sided products that addressed the need for both coolness and warmth, not to mention a variety of other innovations. And this month’s cover story about advancements in flexible polyurethane foam wouldn’t be complete without a detailed discussion about temperature regulation.

In an industry that’s fundamentally about rest and restoration, comfort is the key word. And temperature talk certainly is critical to the conversation, whether your consumers sleep hot or cold. It’s just one of many factors that make mattresses and sleep systems so personal—and so needed. With the High Point Market this month, I look forward to seeing what hot—or cool—innovations come next. 

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