The colder weather that has hit southern Ontario recently has been reminding me of how difficult it can be to fall asleep when your feet are cold. A Swiss study showed that this is actually a real thing , and not just imagined by those of us with frozen tootsies. One of the reasons that having colder feet could keep you awake is that as your feet get cold blood drains away as the blood vessels near the surface constrict, causing the muscles in your lower leg to tense and become painful.
A possible solution to this is, of course, to warm the feet while in bed. I normally have a small blanket covering the foot of the bed, but when it is extra cold this is not enough and more is needed. A common suggestion is to wear socks at night, but if you are particularly hirsute like me you will know the problem with this. The first winter that I had leg hairs, when I was around 13 years old, I tried wearing socks at night as I had in previous years; the pain when I woke up still haunts me. With the elastic and the pulling on the hairs, oh the agony, the agony! Needless to say this is not a viable option. Enter the humble hot-water bottle.
Back in England where I am from, hot-water bottles are very popular, often on prominent display in pharmacies and in multitudes of designs; yet for some reason in North America they are not such a fashionable night time accessory. But since winters over here are so much colder they provide a very cost effective way of keeping your feet warm at night.
Contrary to popular belief you should not boil the water you will be filling it with. This presents the danger of scolding, and given the fact that boiling water degrades the insides of the bottle this becomes more dangerous over time. I simply run the hot water in my bathroom for a minute or so before filling it, and that is hot enough. After filling make sure to press out the air before sealing it as this reduces the risk of popping.
So if you are suffering from cold feet now that winter has finally arrived, even if you are not anywhere near as hairy as me, tonight is a great night to dust off that hot water bottle and get use of it again. You’ll thank me in the morning!
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Sleep tight, Max
1. Cold extremities and difficulties initiating sleep: evidence of co‐morbidity from a random sample of a Swiss urban population
KURT KRÄUCHI, PAOLA FONTANA GASIO, STEPHANIE VOLLENWEIDER, MARIELLA VON ARB, BARBARA DUBLER, SELIM ORGÜL, JOSEF FLAMMER, ELISABETH ZEMP STUTZ
First published: 28 November 2008