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Electric blankets - nightmares or dreamsleeps?

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Article by Pauline Ferguson

I grew up just south of Stanthorpe, and while it's a beautiful place, and I fully recommend a visit there, let me tell you, in Winter it can get quite cold!

I was a bit of wussy little kid (now I'm a wussy adult) and while I don't mind the weather being cold, I personally don't like being cold.  So I had an electric blanket.  Sometimes I'd "forget" to turn it off, and still be toasty warm and reluctant to put my toes out into the -5 mornings...

So I know the appeal of an electric blanket, and how nice it is for something else to be keeping you warm on those quite chilly nights.  However, it isn't really good for you.

The major reason electric blankets aren't good for you is the obvious one: it's a fire risk.  Because they're folded / rolled up half the year, and on a bed with bodies lying on top and getting wrinkled for part of the year, the wiring can be put under a fair amount of stress.  With age, the insulation around the wires can become brittle or broken, which can result in shocks to the sleeper, or short-circuits and potential fires.

The second best way to minimise risk of fires or shocks from an electric blanket is to have it checked every year, before you use it, by a qualified electrician.  He or she will check the visible wiring and connections, and test the voltage and current, which will indicate whether there's a short circuit, and advise you accordingly.  If in ANY doubt, throw it out!!

The next major reason you should reduce electric blanket use is because it can generate a high electrical and electromagnetic field, in which you're sleeping.  Or trying to.  The body communicates electrically, and high electrical or electromagnetic fields can cause insomnia, restless or non-restful sleep, that "jumping" feeling you sometimes get in muscles, anxiety and sometimes nightmares.

Of course, the second best way to reduce these risks is to switch off the electric blanket before you get in bed, or at least within five minutes of getting in.  This can also prevent waking in the middle of the night in a hot sweat... something I have done many times as a forgetful child!

You'll note I've said these options are second best.  That's because the best option is obviously not to use an electric blanket at all.

What other options are there?  Well, there's always that lovely standby, the hot water bottle.  These are awesome, cheap, you can get really cute and cosy covers for them, and they have the added bonus that you can use them as a COLD water bottle in summer.

I personally have a second (cheap) quilt, which I use as an underblanket, under my bottom sheet.  That has the benefit of reflecting heat back at me as soon as I get into bed.  A nice warm shower right before bed to warm up the skin, hop into bed, and away you go!  You can also get sheepskin or woolen underlays which do something similar.

How do you keep warm?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one!

13 Apr 2012

Article/Information supplied by Pauline Ferguson

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.

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