April 1, 2023

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It’s September. If your relationship has survived your partner barracking for the worst team in the history of footy, there may be one more hurdle. He’s hot. You’re not. As the seasons transition, so do our doonas, blankets, sheets then jarmies, in descending order.
Every year, around the equinox (coming this Friday), bedroom trouble emerges. All over Australia, the same bedtime conversation is taking place. When should we change our bed coverings? And why is one of us needing extra warmth when it’s practically summer and I’m cooking under here?
As the equinox approaches, things are hotting up in the bedroom.Credit:iStock
I’ve spent years blaming the annual doona discourse on believing blokes run hotter than women. That’s not exactly true, says Christian Moro, associate professor in physiology at Bond University, although hormones can have an impact. How hot you want your bed to be is all based on individual preference, argue Moro and his PhD student Charlotte Phelps.
“Between the sexes, there are far more similarities than differences,” Moro says.
I pull the winter doona up right to my ears and cocoon right in. Until September, when I’m up in the middle of the night trying to remember exactly where I hid the perfect light woollen blanket bought on a whim from a fancy furniture store in Surry Hills but which has saved me from being poached alive.
So let me uncover the secrets to bedtime relationship harmony. This won’t help you with your sex life, but there are some excellent tips from the front line of the (bedtime) climate conflicts.
I asked folks how they managed this most intimate of arrangements. The most extreme choice was divorce. The next most controversial was sleep separation, including single beds or different rooms. I’d argue one of the chief pleasures of staying married is the close cuddle opportunities, but you do you. I like to be able to fling out an arm and find my lovely spouse.
Others adopted the Scandinavian method (also highlighted by Moro and Phelps) which sounded like innovative sexy times but turns out to be two single bed coverings of different weights on top of each of the bed’s occupants. One Tasmanian resident (they never really have summer) introduced me to her local Quilt and Pillow Factory. I called them. They do consultations with couples to make doonas which have different weights on each side. Manager Prue Allred tells me the doona is called the Marriage Saver. Some couples use electric blankets on one side and not on the other. Ceiling fans on all year round. The couch in an emergency. Just throwing covers off your side. Sleepless nights until that magic moment, mid-December, where Aerogard and a sheet will do.
Even Ben Domensino, Weatherzone maestro, says he and his partner struggle with the doona thing. It’s good to know the rest of us are not alone in our hours of sleeplessness – even meteorologists battle with seasonal transition. Domensino tells me overnight temperatures have increased over the last 30 years. From 1859 to 2020 the average overnight minimum in August was 9 degrees – but over the last 30 years, that’s bumped up to 9.7. And then the shift to September saw the average change from 11.1 to 12.3. This week in Sydney has seen minimums as high as 15 degrees and that’s set to continue for the next three nights. No wonder we have doona dispersal happening across the city.
So what’s the best result? Both Moro and Phelps recommend sleeping with windows open and no airconditioning (how good would it be if all our neighbours turned off their aircon overnight)?
Chris Gordon, sleep researcher and associate professor at the University of Sydney, says women are better at heat loss. Men, on the other hand, will want to stick their hands and feet out from underneath the covers to feel a little cooler. But Gordon also has one important tip for good sleep, no matter the season or gender: temperature about 18 degrees or 19 degrees. Make the room cool and dark. Sleepy time success for everyone over three.
Jenna Price is a regular columnist.
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