While glossy magazines tout having the top 10 ways to heat up things up in the bedroom, a scientific study suggests that when talking about the actual room temperature we should turn the thermostat down.
According to a new study published in the journal Diabetes, sleeping in a colder environment could increase a person’s levels of brown fat. Now, before you wonder why you would ever want to increase fat levels, brown fat actually burns energy instead of storing it. Brown fat is common in newborns, helping them maintain a high enough body temperature, but until recently it was thought adults didn’t have it. Then doctors found small amounts of brown fat in the necks and near collarbones of younger, thin adults.
Given its calorie-burning potential, as it is involved in regulating temperature in rodents and in infants, scientists wondered if there was a way to increase levels in adults. In an experiment with five male individuals who slept in a temperature-related room each night for four months, scientists found, there is a way to increase the presence of brown fat.
The study subjects slept with only light coverings in a room that for the first month was 75 degrees. The following months, the thermostat was set at 66, 75 and 81 degrees, respectively. During this time, researchers measured various factors, including blood-sugar and calories burned, and at the end of each month measured brown fat levels.
According to the New York Times, the coldest sleeping temperature resulted in nearly double the amount of brown fat. Insulin sensitivity, the Times reported, was also improved. Sleeping at the warmest test temperature resulted in lower brown fat levels than when the study began.
“These were all healthy young men to start with, but just by sleeping in a colder room, they gained metabolic advantages,” senior author Francesco Celi the Virginia Commonwealth University told the Times, noting that it could lessen their risk for diabetes and other issues over time.
The men did burn more calories during the day after sleeping at at a colder temperature, but it wasn’t signficant enough lose weight.
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