Dr. Free-Ride: Peeing At Night
January 11, 2009
Have you ever had a seemingly good scientific-ish explanation to a phenomenon that, after years of satisfying you, kind of fall apart?
I think mine fell apart last night.
My better half and I were talking about how freaking cold it’s been. Our thermostatic maximum in the house is 67 oF, and during the hours we’re supposed to be asleep it drops to like 60 oF. So, despite bundling up and wearing hats to bed and such, one or the other of us almost always wakes up in the middle of the night cold.
As the sandman approached, I suggested that peeing before retiring might be an effective preventative measure. Every time I’ve been camping in the winter, my experience has been that the instant solution to waking in the middle of the night on the verge of hypothermia is to trudge off and take a leak.
The story I told myself about this is that you’re offloading a bunch of water that your body no longer has to heat to body temperature. Thus, it can devote its heat to actually heating you.
Last night, my better half pointed out the flaws in this theory: Isn’t the pee pretty much already at body temperature when it gets to your bladder? Before which, your kidneys were squeezing it outta your (body temperature) blood? And why think that, prior to entering your blood stream, the stuff in your stomach is noticeably colder than your body temperature?
But the fact remains that, empirically, getting the pee out makes for a toastier sleeping bag experience. Why should that be, if my thermodynamic handwaving turns out to be wrongheaded?
My better half theorizes that a full bladder simply heightens the impact of all other irritants. However, as a chick (and one who traveled on Greyhound buses in her youth), I can hold it for two to three days if necessary, so I’m not entirely sold on this explanation.