You spend roughly a third of your life sleeping (some of us WAY more than that), but most people never really question the habits associated with slumbering. So let’s take some of our waking hours to learn about the time we spend beneath the blanket.
One question worth considering is why humans like to be covered when they sleep? Regardless of what type of climate a person lives in, we still seem to prefer sleeping underneath something, whether a thick comforter or a single sheet.
It turns out that sleeping under blankets is a relatively new practice for humans. Historically, blankets and sheets were expensive and reserved for society’s elites. Bedsheets were often left in wills because they were valued so highly. Most ordinary people would stay warm at night by sleeping with family members or even farm animals.
As humans began to mass-produce fabrics, common folks were suddenly able to purchase their own blankets and kick mom, dad, brother, sister, cousin, dog, cat, pig, and cow to the curb, so to speak. Even people in tropical climates started to sleep with at least a sheet.
The history of blankets and sleeping next to mom aside, there is the question of internal temperature. The body does need additional heat at night.
Before you fall asleep your body temperature begins to fall, and as the night continues, the human body only continues to cool down. Around dawn, most humans enter REM sleep, during which the human body is actually unable to regulate temperature. And now you know why you sometimes wake up feeling like you’re in a freezer at 4 in the morning.
But wait, there’s more! In addition to keeping us warm (as if being cozy wasn’t enough), sleeping beneath a blanket yields mental benefits. The weight of blankets has been shown to decrease anxiety and stress, as a small amount of pressure can stimulate serotonin production.
One more reason we like to have blankets on us as we slumber? It’s a learned behavior. As a baby your parents covered you up, so you will always associate blankets with bedtime. Or maybe you’re like me and you just want to be a kid forever. Looks nice, doesn’t it?