When temperatures drop, it feels like the best thing to do is just make the most of it and get cosier than ever: candles, homemade soup, big blankets, you know how it goes.
However, experts warn that one of our favourite winter habits is a no-go. While electric blankets are a brilliant winter comfort, we shouldn’t be sleeping under them all night, according to doctors.
The dangers of sleeping under a heated blanket
Responding to a reader question in The Spokesman asking whether electric blankets are a health hazard, Dr Eve Glazier and Dr Elizabeth Ko urged caution – especially if providing them to infants or immobile people.
The doctors warned that a potential risk of using these blankets is overheating the body.
Some medical conditions like diabetes, for instance, can cause neuropathy, which can mean people experience numbness in the body – this could result in them being unable to register their body’s sensitivity to heat, particularly while sleeping.
“This makes it possible to become overheated while sleeping with an electric blanket, or even suffer burns in areas of direct contact with the appliance,” they said.
These blankets could also interfere with the body’s internal temperature and affect how we get to sleep and how long we stay asleep for.
It turns out that a lower body temperature is linked to a faster onset of sleep and better sleep overall.
Using heated blankets for prolonged periods overnight can also pose an electrical fire risk, according to Sleep Seeker.
The alternative to sleeping with an electric blanket
It’s not all bad news, though. While we shouldn’t be sleeping under a heated blanket all night, the doctors said a good compromise is preheating the bed. Turn it on an hour before bed and turn it off just as you’re climbing in.
You could also preheat your bed with a hot water bottle to save electricity.
Other ways to keep warm at night include: wearing thicker pyjamas and bed socks, and having a hot bath or warm drink before bed.
As a final precaution, the doctors urged people to ensure their electric blankets are in good working order, address any potential tripping hazards, and follow the manufacturer’s directions regarding placement, maintenance and cleaning.
Have a cosy sleep, safely!