What Everyone Should Know About How Your Skin Helps You Sleep

and What You Can Do About It

By Virginia Gurley | Sep 02, 2010

What Everyone Should Know About How Your Skin Helps You Sleep

Most people are aware of the basic do’s and don’t before bedtime that affect sleep: Do things that are relaxing like taking a warm shower, pleasure reading, listening to music, stretching, or meditating; don’t do things that are stress inducing like exercising strenuously, eating or drinking caffeine, working, thinking or talking about stressful topics.

What is not widely known, and strange as this may sound, the temperature of your skin is critical to being able to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. Here is what happens and how skin temperature affects your sleep.

  • An hour or two before your typical bedtime, the skin of your hands, arms, legs and feet should start getting significantly warmer due to increased blood flow. 
  • With this increase in skin blood flow and warmth, body heat is given off to the air surrounding the skin, causing your core body temperature to decrease gradually through the night.
  • The increase in skin temperature, along with the parallel night time increase in melatonin, is what causes drowsiness and the rapid onset of sleep when you turn out the lights.
  • When skin blood flow and warming cannot increase due to vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels), getting to sleep will take longer, staying asleep can be difficult, and how much restorative slow wave sleep and learning-dependent REM sleep you get can be decreased. 

Some things that can cause your blood vessels to narrow when they should be dilating for sleep include high adrenaline levels due to stress, low blood pressure due to dehydration, a medical condition called vasospastic disorder, and a low core body temperature due to eating something very cold like ice cream.

So, here are simple things I do to help my sleep-related skin warming and improve my sleep.

  • If my feet or legs are cool or cold at bedtime, I wear socks to bed and/or take a warm shower.
  • I drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages during the day and early evening so I am well hydrated by dinner time.
  • When I’ve had a stressful day or feel wound up in the evening, I try to get moderate exercise in the late afternoon or early evening. I use the stress reducing activities described above to help decrease night time stress too.
  • I avoid drinking and eating things that are very cold in the hour before bedtime.
  • I keep the temperature of my bedroom and my bed cool enough that my skin can give off heat, but warm enough that I don’t feel chilled.

If you are familiar with the impact of skin temperature on sleep and have any tips or comments to share, your contribution to exploring this topic is greatly appreciated.

How and when your core body temperature cools at night can also affect your sleep, but I’ll save that topic for a future post.


Comments on “What Everyone Should Know About How Your Skin Helps You Sleep”

  1. Joyce Peak Sep 05, 2010

    This article was so helpful. I understand now why it is impossible to get to sleep if my feet are cold. Also gave me answers to why I have dificulty staying asleep. The suggestions were easy to follow and to implement right away. Thanks again for the help, I have had trouble through out my life with sleep, getting to sleep, staying asleep and turning off my brain when I wake in the night.

  2. Erik Thauberger Sep 27, 2010


    The single largest helpful intervention I have made over the years to help my own insomnia was psychological, i.e. I simply gave myself permission to stop thinking about things at night. Granted, there are times, particularly when I am stressed, that the brain seems to go on autopilot and ruminate virtually uncontrolled. These episodes are rare for me thankfully, and the attitude that it is not a big deal to lose a bit of sleep here and there keeps it from becoming an ongoing issue. I don’t get up, I don’t fret and fuss…I just put a smile on and lay there… “resting.” Attitude, for me is what allows me to be confident that if I do all of the various tidbits this site and others recommend, it will pay-off. I can say that it does.

  3. unicarf Apr 25, 2011

    Great Community here. Keep up the good work people. <a >Buy Backlinks</a>

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