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Ditch your doona and feel better

ditch-the-doonaLet’s get personal and talk sleeping habits. We all love a good night’s sleep and generally feel better for it. However, it appears we are overdoing it here in Australia and snuggling up under our doona can leave us itchy, tired and metabolically challenged (overweight). 

You are probably wondering how the comfy doona affects your skin, energy levels and metabolism. Using a doona in the warmer summer months can easily get your body too hot while you are sleeping and lead to itchy skin that worsens conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. A radio interview with Canberra Dermatologist, Dr Andrew Miller, highlighted the doona may also be a culprit for dandruff. “If you get really hot and sweat, you tend to overgrow yeast on your scalp, which is what causes dandruff”.

Dr Miller then went on to say that your doona could also be making you fat. Research shows that people in a cooler environment will regenerate their “brown fat”, the baby fat which we usually lose as we age. This type of fat protects against over-eating and inactivity, and it’s believed it can help prevent obesity and diabetes.

Dr Miller says if we’re not burning calories to keep ourselves warm, our metabolism tends to become “lazy” and can lay down fat instead.

Skin specialists are also starting to see a condition called “doona eye”. This is caused by house dust mites, which thrive in doonas, causing allergic, itchy eyes. Too much scratching and rubbing results in darkening around the eyes and dry, scaly skin.

As for your actual quality of sleep, experts agree that we sleep better when our body is cool. Temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius reduce REM sleep, which can leave you feeling unrefreshed, tired and vague on waking.

To get to sleep, your core body temperature needs to cool by 0.3 of a degree, and this is harder to achieve the older we get.

Many health professionals recommend using blankets, which provide a more uniform temperature, rather than doonas, which were designed for the much colder northern hemisphere.

But if you’re deeply attached to your doona, there are some steps you can take. Dr Miller advises shaking the doona filling down to the bottom, never using an electric blanket with a doona, and dressing lightly for bed.

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