Hang in there guys, because spring is just around the corner. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we’ve been suffering through the winter for what feels like an eternity, but slowly, we’re starting to see signs of warmth and hope and happiness again. The days are getting longer, and the most eager of trees are already showing off their spring blossoms. It means the heavy coats and layers can start to peel off.
UNLESS you’re one of those people who is perpetually freezing.
We all know someone like that – the colleague who is always complaining that the office is too cold, or the partner who always steals the blanket in bed. But why is it that some people are just always cold, no matter what the temperature?
My work is literally sooo cold all the time, I literally feel like climbing in the toaster
— (@skaatiie) 16 February 2018
Well, it’s all pretty normal, according to this expert.
“In the simplest of terms, feeling either cold or warm means that the temperature ‘set point’ of the body is being challenged by thermal inputs throughout the body, including in the brain, the blood, the spinal cord, our organs, our muscles, and our skin,” Dr Christopher Minson tells Upworthy.
“Part of our brain collects all of those thermal inputs and essentially compares them to what body temperature it wants to hold. So if your skin temperature is lowered, even though the rest of your body is still at a comfortable set-point, you will feel cold — in some cases, cold enough to make behavioral changes like putting on a sweater.”
Minson, a human physiology professor at the University of Oregon, specialises in studying thermoregulation to look at how the brain and body interact when we feel hot or cold. He says the reason there are people who always feel cold is that their bodies are trying to trigger the brain into conserving heat. And, as you might have noticed, these kinds of people are usually women.
“The people who feel ‘always cold’ will typically have lower muscle mass relative to body surface area (typically, women and older people),” Minson explains. “Their actual body core temperature may not really be below normal, but they feel cold because their body is telling them to conserve heat.”
“There have also been limited reports that women have a higher density of blood vessels at the skin surface, which would make them more sensitive to cold.”
There’s a reason our hands and feet tend to feel the coldest too:
“As their body works to conserve heat, it vasoconstricts blood vessels in the extremities (hands and feet) to keep the core warm. This reduced blood flow results in cold hands and feet in women more than men.”
And if you’re sick and tired of feeling chilly all the time, Minson recommends trying to build muscle to replace the fat mass in your body in order to increase your overall metabolic rate. Alternatively, he suggests taking cold showers.
“It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s been suggested that this could decrease the sensation of feeling cold,” he says.
Well, are you game?