Health updates: cold temperatures and fructose

The following is new information on temperatures and sleeping, and fructose and human metabolism.

Do cold temperatures improve sleep?

A growing number of studies are finding that temperature regulation plays a role in many cases of chronic insomnia. Studies have found that, in general, the optimal temperature for sleep is quite cool, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in this range help facilitate the decrease in core body temperature that, in turn, initiates sleepiness. Too far below or above this range can lead to restlessness.

Researchers have shown, for example, that insomniacs tend to have warmer core body temperatures just before bed than people who get regular sleep, which leads to heightened arousal and a struggle to fall asleep.

At least 25 percent of Americans say that they frequently have problems getting a complete and restful night’s sleep, and at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders. For troubled sleepers, a cool room and a hot-water bottle placed at the feet (which rapidly dilates blood vessels and therefore actually helps lower core temperature) can push the internal thermostat to a better setting.

Scientists prove that fructose can damage human metabolism

Scientists have proven for the first time that fructose, a cheap form of sugar used in thousands of food products and soft drinks, can damage human metabolism and is fueling the obesity crisis. Fructose, a sweetener usually derived from corn, can cause dangerous growths of fat cells around vital organs and can trigger the early stages of diabetes and heart disease.

Over 10 weeks, 16 volunteers who were on a controlled diet including high levels of fructose produced new fat cells around their hearts, livers and other digestive organs. They also showed signs of food-processing abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease. Another group of volunteers on the same diet, but who used glucose sugar instead of fructose, did not have these problems.


Sources: New York Times August 3, 2009, Grist December 15, 2009, J Clin Invest 2009, Times Online 2009 and

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2010.

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