09/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Heat Factor: Warm Skin, Cozier Sleep

There are lots of things you can try to enhance the quality of your sleep and avoid waking up at night. But here's something you probably haven't heard of before: warming up your skin.

The news just came in from the Netherlands in a study published in the journal Brain. Turns out that increasing the temperature of your skin--but not your core body temperature--just a little bit can help you achieve deeper, more restful sleep and avoid waking up too early in the morning.

These types of sleep problems are common among older folks.

The reasoning behind the phenomenon is that skin warming has been shown to stimulate areas in the brain that are involved in regulating sleep. Studies on skin in recent years have been turning up all sorts of fascinating discoveries. We've learned a great deal about how skin is like the brain's twin. It can create messages for the brain to respond to without needing the brain to act first.

To think that a little warmth on your skin can effect change in the brain and plunge you into top-quality sleep is, well...amazing. Gives a whole new meaning to wrapping yourself up in a blankie.

It's not always easy to find sure-fire ways to solve sleep problems, especially in people who suffer from insomnia or who can't seem to get through the night and early morning hours without waking. The elderly are famous for their lack of quality sleep and inability to stay asleep for long periods of time.

So can this recent study offer a new way to promote better sleep? I think it may be worth trying. Keep the ambient bedrooms temps cool but keep the blankies close. Sleep tight.

This article is "">cross-posted at Dr. Breus's official blog,">The Insomnia Blog.