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Want to sleep better? North Carolina mom says it's all about temperature

Posted January 15, 2020 3:17 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2020 6:24 p.m. EST

— Sleep can be a struggle. Many of us spend our nights tossing and turning and dreading the alarm.

Tara Youngblood used to be one of those people. She's now on a mission to help others. She calls herself the "Sleep Geek" and travels around the country giving speeches about the scientific ways to get better sleep.

"It breaks my heart because every single time I give a talk someone comes out and says 'oh my God that's me'," Youngblood said.

Youngblood lives in Mooresville, just outside of Charlotte. She is a mother, and she has always struggled to get the right amount of rest.

"I've never been a good sleeper. I did the equivalent of driving my kids to school drunk every day for over a year," Youngblood said.

The impaired feeling came from lack of sleep, so she started doing extensive research. Youngblood has a background in physics and engineering and put that to use reading hundreds of books about the subject.

She realized the thing that could help her the most was not light or sound, but temperature.

"I did a deep dive into figuring out how sleep works and then what temperature does to that," she said.

She used her newfound expertise to develop a product called the chiliPAD which cools the mattress at night. She's used the chiliPAD to improve her sleep dramatically. Youngblood says she only needs six hours of sleep a night now.

Dr. Adnan Pervez is a pulmonologist and medical director of the REX Sleep Disorders Centers. He says there's not a lot of research available about any specific sleep products right now, but he says temperature is something we should all be paying attention to.

"From a physiological perspective, it does help to have the bedroom environment or the immediate environment where someone is sleeping to be a little on the cold side," Dr. Pervez said.

This all goes back to the days when we were not as dependent on climate-controlled houses where it's always about 70 degrees at all times of the day.

"We all have a body clock that determines sleep and wakefulness, and it changes the natural body temperature as the day goes by," he said.

Youngblood is hoping more medical professionals start to talk about what she feels is an important part of overall health.

"The medical world for the longest time has just put sleep in this category of 'we don't talk about it,'" she said.

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