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Sleep Disorders

Trouble Sleeping

06/04/2007

Question:

I am a 22 year old female and over the past several months as the outside temperature has increased I have really noticed that I am so hot at night. Even during the winter I felt the need to keep the AC on at night around 65-70. Yes, then I could cover up and be comfortable but the outside air would drop the air inside way down too. Now that its relatively warm all night I am really struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep because I am so hot. I am only on birth control and have had my thyroid tested and it was normal. I just had my yearly check up and that included blood work. Everything was great. Blood pressure stays around 118/75, low cholesteral (sp?), pulse fine. I have even lost weight in a healthy mannor since feb. I eat great and work out 5 times a week. I am in bed at a decent hour and hardly ever have a drink. No smoking and I am not pregnant. I dont know what the issue is but its starting to wear on me. I find that the only times I really sleep well is when I have over excerted my body during the day. And well, I cannot climb a mountain everyday so I sleep like a rock. Please help any suggestions would be appreciated. I dont want to go down the road of sleep aids if I dont have to. Thanks for you time.

Answer:

This is an interesting question. It so happens that in order to become sleepy and fall asleep, the body’s temperature should be falling or cooling off. Thus, if you are too warm, you may well have trouble falling asleep. There are a number of possible reasons why you may be too warm to fall asleep.

Sometimes, the environment, as you point out, can be a contributing factor. It is generally recommended that the bedroom be cool, quiet and comfortable. Alternatively, certain behaviors leading up to bedtime can be counterproductive to sleep by raising the body’s temperature. Most common of these is exercising too close to bedtime and taking a hot shower near bedtime. Strenuous exercise should be avoided within 4-6 hours of bedtime. Certain medical conditions can also lead to heat intolerance or hot flashes. Hyperthyroidism and perimenopausal symptoms are two that come to mind.

It is possible that your trouble falling asleep may not be related to your bodies temperature but rather some other factor that has changed in your life recently. Changes in bedtime habits, medications or health can all contribute to sleep onset insomnia. In addition, anxiety or stress would need to be considered as well.

To determine if there is sleep disorder present as the cause for your, a thorough history and physical examination are needed. A referral to a Sleep Specialist by your Primary Care Physician may need considered if an obvious cause for your problems is note found.

To learn more about sleep and sleep disorders, please visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website. In addition to information, the website contains a list of Sleep Centers across the country so that you may locate one near you.

Good luck and here's to better sleep!

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Response by:

Dennis   Auckley, MD Dennis Auckley, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University