Postdate: 19 December 2016
Did you know that your body temperature gives a very strong signal for falling asleep? In his book Iedereen Slaapt, Ysbrand van der Werf discusses the different aspects of sleep and sleeping behaviour. One of the things he describes is that the body temperature is important to fall asleep and to continue sleeping.
Your brain registers the temperature of your skin and gives a signal that increases the urge to go to sleep. Having cold feet is a phenomenon most people are familiar with. When your skin is cold (in other words: you feel cold), you won't fall asleep. When you have difficulties falling asleep, you can first check whether you are warm enough. You can warm yourself by a heat source. The same with clothing: choose warm bed socks and, old-fashioned maybe, a night cap, as you lose a lot of warmth via your scalp.
There are even better and healthier ways. It is important that you increase your core temperature. Exercising (especially high-tempo sports) raises the temperature of your muscles. You should do this about two hours before you go to sleep. This is because it takes two hours for the built-up warmth to spread to the core of your skin. Your skin will then give the signal of wanting to sleep. When you don't like doing sports or exercises in the evening, a hot bath or shower is another option. This should also be done two hours before going to sleep.
Funnily enough, you can get the same effect by cooling down two hours before going to sleep, for example by taking a cold shower or taking a walk when it is freezing. The warmth your body will produce to maintain its temperature will also be transferred to the skin. When you are 'hot-blooded', this method is the most effective one for you, but those who are sensitive to cold and who find it difficult to get warm feet had better use the warming-up method.
'Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel'