How can I keep myself warm when I am in bed?
November 5, 2010 2:48 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep myself warm when I am in bed?

I'm cold all the time, especially when I go to sleep. I sleep with a sweatshirt (sometimes two) and multiple comforters even in the summer (I live in California!), and since there's no possible way I can add more layers in the winter, I need to turn up the heat. This gets rather uncomfortable (being tangled up in layers of comforters, or god-forbid, one of them fall off the bed at night), and rather expensive due to the heater. Please give me advice on how to keep warm, particularly in my bed as I'm sleeping, while minimizing excessive layers, and cost.

Other notes:
-Most of the time, I do not have a bed partner. I cannot get a pet.
-I'm already using a down comforter.
-I'm currently only heating my bedroom, but would still like to minimize the costs of that (I live in Northern California, and many people don't even turn on the heat)
-Yes, I'm rather thin, but not underweight, and I'm not putting on pounds just to keep warm.
-I wear socks to bed, but they feel uncomfortable, so I end up taking them off in my sleep (any way to minimize this?)
-Since I have so many comforters, it's not uncommon for one to fall off the bed during the night, so it gets colder (how to minimize this?)

Some thoughts to get it rolling:
-Should I get one of those hot water bottles to put in my bed?
-What about those really thin, aluminum-like blankets people take camping? Can I get something inspired by that? Isn't that super warm?
-I'm already thinking of investing in really heavy curtains.

Thanks in advance. Ideally, I'd like to be able to go to sleep without the bulkiness, cost, or risk of "losing a layer" during the night. No need to go into health related answers, unless you had the exact same problem and then it turned out to be some obscure medical condition... I know I'm generally healthy. Just cold...
posted by lacedcoffee to Health & Fitness (74 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Mylar sheets?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:49 PM on November 5, 2010

Fleece sheets.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:50 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I never believed in electric blankets. Until I got one.

Toasty. And adjustable.

For keeping covers from falling off? Double sleeping bag.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2010 [8 favorites]

Have you tried an electric blanket?
posted by dilettante at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Electric blanket or hot water bottle.
posted by fire&wings at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2010

Heated mattress pads are so much better than electric blankets. I live in NorCal and I'm putting mine back on the bed this weekend.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:53 PM on November 5, 2010 [14 favorites]

When I lived in North Dakota, I had a heated mattress pad, and it was awesome. I'd turn it on, then do my nighttime routine. My bed was warm and cozy by the time I was ready to climb in.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 2:53 PM on November 5, 2010

Why not an electric blanket or electric mattress pad? They aren't very expensive, not hard to get (I like the Sunbeam mattress pad; got mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond) and the thing can get darn hot. I rarely ever turn mine up above 3, and it goes to 15. Turn it on in preheat mode before you get into bed, and it will be quite toasty in there.

Also, how's your insulation? Might be worth looking at better weatherstripping for the windows if a lot of cold air is coming in that way.
posted by zachlipton at 2:53 PM on November 5, 2010

You would be in heaven in a heated waterbed.
posted by found missing at 2:53 PM on November 5, 2010

Flannel sheets -- by far and away my number 1 thing to do when the weather turns chilly. Heated mattress pad (available at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond). Cashmere or cashmere blend socks (they're softer and stay warmer).
posted by scody at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Electric mattress pads are fantastic! Less suffocating than electric blankets IMO.
posted by thatone at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2010

Putting a synthetic-stuffed comforter, or even just a synthetic fleece blanket, on top of your down blanket will hold a LOT more heat in. (The fabric won't breathe, though, so things will smell faster.)

A waterproof mattress pad also reflects a LOT more body heat up and lets very little escape into the mattress.

Much of your body heat is lost through your head. Can you wear a knit cap to bed? (Like a skullcap.)

A hot water bottle put in the bed before you get in will warm the sheets and then your toes; also cherry pit footwarmers (or similar with rice stuffing of whatever).

I always get comforters one size bigger than the bed (for a queen bed, get a king comforter), which minimizes fall-off, especially if there are two of you in the bed.

This is my accumulated wisdom from moving my Floridian husband to the snowy midwest. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:55 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Staying warm is a matter of keeping your extremities warm. I hated the feeling of socks on my feet at first (weird!) but eventually got used to it. And I wear a super-soft beanie on extra cold nights. Haven't had to resort to gloves, but if I did I imagine the fingerless kind would work best.

If socks really just won't work, there's always footsie PJs for adults.
posted by carsonb at 2:57 PM on November 5, 2010

I keep my bedroom @ 50-55 at night, and am comfy with flannel sheets, a good blanket and a good fiberfill puff. I'll add a blanket when it gets colder. And I tend to be cold. Are you cold during the night? What temp is it in your bedroom? You could ask your doc to check your thyroid. Being on thyroid meds has helped my stay warmer.

To answer your question more specifically, flannel sheets are cozy, a hot water bottle keeps the feet warm. When it gets really cold, I use an electric blanket to pre-heat the bed. You might also consider wearing a hat. Your head has a lot of surface area to lose heat.
posted by theora55 at 2:57 PM on November 5, 2010

I was cold, like sweatshirts, sweatpants, and socks under piles of comforters and cats and dogs cold, for years until one of my doctors caught my under-performing thyroid. This is not an obscure problem, but you probably wouldn't know you had it until a blood test caught it.
posted by crankylex at 3:00 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

'nthing the electric mattress pad over the electric blanket. My wife is constantly cold and that warms her up nicely.
posted by royalchinook at 3:01 PM on November 5, 2010

This is super lo-tech, but have you tried tucking your blanket around your body & feet, and then sleeping with the covers over your head (at least for a few minutes)? This warms up the "sleeping bag" surprisingly well.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 3:03 PM on November 5, 2010

Electric blankets are made for this. The best part is you can turn them on a few minutes before you get into bed, so you're never cold.

I also find starting off warm is a good way to stay warm all night--so a hot shower just before bedtime does wonders.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:03 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would second a heated or just a standard down mattress pad. When I started paying for my own heating costs, I moved to a colder bedroom and putting a duvet (Comforter) under the bottom sheet made a huge difference and I have now switched to a decent down mattress pad. My wife, who would be cold if she was sitting on magma it seems, is much more comfortable in bed with it.

If that may not be enough (and two sweaters suggests not) a heated mattress pad seems to be the best of both worlds. You could have it on a timer switch to prevent you leaving it on and adjust as needed.

To prevent losing covers, I always just pull them in a bit until they don't drape over the sides either much or at all. Having covers that are flexible helps with both of this as your movements don't transmit to the whole thing sliding around and also the covers conform to your body and prevent those whooshes of cold air down the covers when you move.
posted by Brockles at 3:06 PM on November 5, 2010

Response by poster: Ok, come to think of it, perhaps I will get my thyroid checked...

I'm liking the electric blanket/mattress ideas. Are they generally safe? Any recommended brands? (I once got an electric blanket from Walgreens that wasn't very effective, so I didn't think much more of it, but perhaps I just needed a better one...)

Also, to answer someone's question-- my room is of normal temperature (whatever that means). Everyone who has ever slept in the same room as me wears less and doesn't use as many blankets, so I think the issue is me, not the room.
posted by lacedcoffee at 3:07 PM on November 5, 2010

Also, if you get a mattress pad of any type do not, under any circumstances use cheap bottom fitted sheets - they are more annoying than rusty pins in your eyes as they ping off almost every night. Buy a good quality deep fitted sheet and your life will be much less annoying at nights.

Making the bed again every night makes me grumpy.
posted by Brockles at 3:07 PM on November 5, 2010

This will sound nonsensical but I stay warmer in my chilly bedroom if I sleep in the buff under my down comforter vs wearing long underwear/sweatshirt/sweatpants. It's just very very hard to get out of bed in the morning.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:11 PM on November 5, 2010 [8 favorites]

Seconding wearing a hat.
posted by Duffington at 3:11 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fleece sheets, heated mattress pad, try sleeping in the nude. Seriously. Counterintuitive, but it works.
posted by cyndigo at 3:11 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second the recommendation for an electric blanket. Try to get one of the electric mattress pads that you put underneath your bottom sheet, so it won't move around. If you want to be really, really warm, turn it on around half an hour before you get into bed.

As for socks, I recommend buying some bedsocks - they're looser fitting than normal socks, so they're much more comfortable to sleep in. If your feet are still cold, get one of those little wheat warmers that you pop in the microwave for a minute and put that underneath your feet.

I'm assuming a comforter is the same thing as a duvet, so I would check the tog count. I think you may be sleeping under a lightweight duvet, and you may have better luck with a winter duvet with a tog count of around 13.5 - 15, as it's much thicker and a better insulator.

On preview: yes, there are good and bad electric blankets. I don't live in the US, so I probably can't recommend any specific brands, but try to get one with a thermal cut-off and that is rated to be used all night, and more than one heat setting. They're generally safe, but make sure you check regularly for exposed or frayed wires, and replace after a few years use.
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 3:12 PM on November 5, 2010

Electric mattress pad, flannel sheets, get blankets bigger than your bed-size, and- have you considered a night-cap? Back in the day, when you couldn't keep fires going all night, everyone slept in one, and it's a part of your body that loses a lot of heat and isn't covered. I wore one for a while when our heating went and makes you feel kind of cozy (and muffles sounds as well if it comes over your ears).
posted by Erasmouse at 3:12 PM on November 5, 2010

I can't even keep this memory foam mattress pad on my bed anymore because it retains so much heat-- shame, because it's really comfortable. Maybe worth a shot?
posted by oinopaponton at 3:13 PM on November 5, 2010

Act like you're sleeping in the backcountry:

-wear your long underwear, or other full-body non-cotton pajamas, and a hat to bed
-eat something with a lot of sugar and fat in it right before you go to bed (like a spoonful of peanut butter, not an entire cake)
-make sure you pee before you go to sleep, because your body puts a lot of energy into keeping a full bladder warm
-use a hot water bottle and preheat your bed
-make sure your down comforters are poofy and not being squished by heavy blankets on top of them, because down only really works when it's got a lot of loft
-make sure all of your other blankets are wool or synthetic and not cotton
-make sure you're warm before you get into bed, and try to minimize the spaces underneath the covers, because your body heat will spread out and fill those spaces instead of just heating yourself
-insulate below yourself as well as above. make sure you're not losing heat downwards. Flannel sheets and a good thick mattress cover might help a bit with insulation. If you do find a space blanket-like thing (those aluminum blankets) try putting it under you instead of over.
posted by colfax at 3:13 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Get a large, cuddly dog.
Or a sleeping bag. You can find sleeping bags made for two people so it won't be so constrictive. Or if you get a rectangular one you can zip two together.
posted by gally99 at 3:15 PM on November 5, 2010

2 hot water bottles. One for the feet, the other to snuggle up to. Problem solved (dont get the cheap drugstore ones, they lose heat faster. ) For some reason i've had much better luck with bottles made in England.
posted by ramix at 3:17 PM on November 5, 2010

Nthing the heated mattress pad. Heat rises, so you just have to have your comforter trap the heat that is already under you instead of trying to catch the heat that is already on top of you. I've also been told that mattress pads are safer than electric blankets because folding the blanket can damage the heating elements in contrast to the the pad that is always flat. (I hear this 20 years ago, so it may not be relevant with today's technology.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:19 PM on November 5, 2010

Flannel sheets -- by far and away my number 1 thing to do when the weather turns chilly.

Ditto. And these are the ultimate flannel sheets imho.

Also, I'd recommend a down comforter, and atop that something heavier like a quilt. The layering really helps retain heat.

And you will probably like this book.
posted by bearwife at 3:24 PM on November 5, 2010

Please be careful with electric blankets! My roommate had one in college, and it sparked and caught fire just as she was going to sleep; if it had sparked two minutes later it would have been utterly disastrous. Luckily, the light caught her eye and she was able to quickly put it out.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get a hat with ear flaps. Sometimes when I'm cold in bed, I pull the blankets up to warm up my ears, then after 5 minutes I'm fine. So keep your head and your ears warm by wearing a bobble hat with ear flaps (not a deerstalker, but I don't know what the hat is called... you see "wacky" students wearing them...)
posted by afx237vi at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2010

Oh, and I forgot to mention . . . a feather bed is not only fantastically comfortable, but will really keep you warm as well.
posted by bearwife at 3:27 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am an ice cube and I can't get to sleep if I'm not warm enough. I also seem to like really heavy blankets on me, I think because they make the little pocket I am sleeping in smller, thus less to heat up. My routine:

- do not let myself sit around typing and freezing until right before bed, try to stay a decent temperature all the time
- electric mattress pad warmer. I use a Serta one. Usually I flip it on to "stun about 30-45 minutes before I get into bed and turn it off when I'm actually sleeping.
- I sleep under a light duvet and a heavy-ish down comforter
- flannel sheets and pillowcases, naturally
- I also have flennel PJs though there's a bit of a velcro effect. Six months out of the year I sleep in a wool hat [which I call my nightcap]
- no socks. Often my socks are a little damp b/c of sweaty feet and I find that my feet warm up more quickly if I don't have socks on
- I have a mattress, not a futon. Futons stay chilly. They have many other fine qualities, but they stay chilly. Get a mattress or at least a mattress topper if you have a futon
- My bed is a few feet off the floor so it's a little warmer at that altitude
posted by jessamyn at 3:27 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I used to work in a situation that had me living outdoors every 5 out of 7 days for almost 3 years and I remember being unbearably cold in the wintertime. I would layer and layer and still shiver all night long until one day one of my coworkers suggested that maybe I was layering TOO MUCH and it was causing my body to sweat and that moisture was making me cold.

After that I always peed before bed because as previous commenters have mentioned, your body uses a lot of energy to keep your urine warm. Then I would sleep in socks, sweatpants, a tee shirt and sometimes a long sleeved tee over that if i got cold in the middle of the night. I never had any more issues after that. I would even sleep with my clothes I was going to put on the next morning in my sleeping bag so that they would be toasty in the A.M.
posted by splitinfinitive at 3:36 PM on November 5, 2010

Nthing heated mattress pad.....they are one of the best inventions EVER!
posted by labwench at 3:42 PM on November 5, 2010

As long as you're getting your thyroid checked you might want to have you red blood cell count/iron stores checked out as well to see if you're a bit anemic. I have off-and-on anemia and find that once I've been taking iron supplements for a few weeks/months I'm far less cold, in general.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 3:47 PM on November 5, 2010

Get those really soft fluffy socks that are sold in the pajama sections of stores, not in the socks/stocking sections. Those are ridiculously warm, I sometimes wake up at night because my feet are so uncomfortably warm, so they might be good for someone who's really cold. They feel so soft and wonderful, unlike regular socks which suck for sleeping.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 3:54 PM on November 5, 2010

I have the same problem (and no medical issues, according to my doctor)!

Here are some things mentioned above that work for me:
- flannel sheets
- silk long underwear under my PJs
- sleeping with my head under the blankets
- (I know they're probably safe but electric blankets make me nervous)

The thing that makes the most difference for me, though, is:
- taking a really really really hot shower (without getting my hair wet) right before I get in bed.

Before I go back to my room and lose too much heat, I put on my socks, long underwear, PJs, sweatshirt, etc. Then, I race back to my room and jump under my covers. For some reason the combination of getting the temperature of my body / skin up and then putting on as much clothing as possible seems to help my body retain heat much more effectively than anything else I've tried. I assume the clothing insulates me.

This seriously makes the difference between I'm-so-cold-it-takes-me-hours-to-fall-asleep and I'm-warm-and-cozy-and-zzzzzzz. A lot of the time, my feet get too hot (unheard of before) when I do this and I have to slip off my socks to cool down.

Good luck!
posted by cimton at 3:58 PM on November 5, 2010

I take a hot bath before bed. It gets me really, really warm and really, really sleepy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:01 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

1. Fleece sheets. Just started with those last year and DAMN they are wonderful.
2. Down duvet with a heavier blanket over the top - the duvet traps your warm air around you and the heavier blanket keeps cold air out. We use two of those thin but heavy cotton embroidered covers that you find everywhere these days over a down comforter.
3. Pre-heat the bed with your own body heat: lie on top of the covers (fully-dressed) and read a book for half an hour before crawling in. I used this living in a house with no heat in Canadian winters and it's fabulous.
4. Wear socks. Fluffy, luscious socks, wool socks, whatever is warm and comfy. If your feet are cold it tenses you up, and tension restricts blood flow and makes you colder everywhere. Warm feet are the key that unlock the door to a warm body.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:04 PM on November 5, 2010

I <3 hotwaterbottles!!! Make sure you get a nice thick cover so you don't burn your feet, they can be hard to find, I had to knit myself one. They are also much safer than electric blankets and at worst can leak a little.
posted by meepmeow at 4:08 PM on November 5, 2010

Electric mattress pad!!! And since you sleep alone, you can crank one side up, keep the other side low, and just scoot over if you wake up uncomfortable.
posted by nosila at 4:11 PM on November 5, 2010

New electric blankets and mattress pads are pretty safe. A little digging showed that ones more than 10 years old are the most likely to have issues, both because of wear and tear and because of less strict safety standards.

Get one with an auto shutoff so you can't accidentally leave it on all day.

I bought this one and had it shipped. I also live in NoCal FWIW.
posted by zug at 4:11 PM on November 5, 2010

I also think you're using too much clothing and too many blankets. I'm in SoCal and used to feel cold all the time, even under two comforters and an old wool army blanket dressed in flannel and cold in bed even though I knew it wasn't really cold like up north too cold to snow cold...

Until I made the discovery that if I stuck my feet out from under the covers I got warmer, no PJs, warmer still, get rid of a blanket, all nice and toasty. It's like your body knows it's not really cold and you're warm enough so it doesn't turn up the body furnace to warm you up so you stay feeling cold. Once you get rid of all of the insulation your body feels a bit of real chill and cranks up to make you all nice and toasty. Give it a shot, loose a comforter, crawl into bed naked and stick one foot out. Your body will finally get a hint that your foot is cold and you'll generate some heat rather than your body thinking all is good and doing nothing at all.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:11 PM on November 5, 2010

Fleece sheet on top of you, then top cotton sheet.

I didn't have this epiphany until after a stay in the hospital and it's completely changed my sleeping comfort in the winter.
posted by Wossname at 4:53 PM on November 5, 2010

Seconding jessamyn's comment about not letting yourself get cold before you go to bed... I always try to be nice and warm before I get under the covers (which often means wearing a sweatshirt right up until I go to bed, drinking a hot beverage right before I brush my teeth, etc.).

And I'm going to disagree with whoever said that the key is keeping your extremities warm - if you can keep your core warm, your extremities will take care of themselves. If your core is cold, it is very hard to convince your body to direct any of that nice hot blood to your fingers and toes. Extremities are the uncomfortable symptom, but usually they're not the problem.
posted by mskyle at 4:54 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely find a way to cover your head. I don't like hats or constrictive things on my head while I sleep, and I can't breathe under the covers, so I just fold up a small blanket into a triangle and simply wrap it around the top of my head and over my ears. I think you'll be amazed at how much this can do to help keep you warm.
posted by georgiabloom at 4:56 PM on November 5, 2010

If you are cold when there is no physical reason to, you may have a circulation/nerve problem. Speak to a Doctor.
posted by Biru at 4:58 PM on November 5, 2010

I'll ditto the recommendation that you test out wearing less. Some guides to camping tell you to sleep naked in your sleeping bag. For me, that leaves you too vulnerable to a cold spot in my bag, but if I wear more than a layer of long underwear, it seems like my clothes end up keeping the heat out or otherwise interfering with the whole insulation system.
posted by salvia at 5:14 PM on November 5, 2010

Lots of good advice already but adding one more tip to using a hot water bottle. Don't just use it to warm up your bed but actually put a hot water bottle right on your femoral artery (inner thigh area).

It's an old camping trick to get and stay warm: because the femoral artery is a major artery, the heat from the bottle transfers to your blood which then gets pumped throughout the body. Whereas if you just put a hot water bottle on your belly for example, only your belly warms up.
posted by kitkatcathy at 5:18 PM on November 5, 2010

Thermal underwear keeps me warm on cold nights. I have a set from LL Bean and it's thin and comfortable to sleep in.
posted by pombiki at 5:32 PM on November 5, 2010

The absolute simplest and cheapest way to get warm in bed:
Pull the covers up over your chin so your mouth is inside, but your nose is outside. Inhale through your nose, then exhale through your mouth into your little cave of blankets. That way all the air your lungs just warmed up doesn't get wasted- instead, it warms your skin, too. And keeping your nose outside the blanket lets you breathe fresh air. It's amazing how fast this can warm you.

Next up: electric heating pad all the way. Get the larger size, and make sure it's the kind with a soft, fabric cover- not the plasticky ones meant for "moist heat". It is seriously the best $40 you'll ever spend. I don't need to heat my Canadian Winter apartment because I have one of these. Tuck it between your thighs so it warms up all the blood passing through your femoral arteries, which will keep your whole body, even your feet, toasty warm. Or put it against your back or belly. So good.

Jersey sheets are really warm, too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:44 PM on November 5, 2010

Do you have a dehumidifier? Even if the room is a normal temperature, dampness can still make you chilly.
posted by martianna at 5:50 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and I also think you're maybe wearing too much clothing. If your body isn't making enough heat, then your clothes are insulating warm air *away* from you, plus too much clothing can make you feel kind of clammy. Try sleeping naked on something slightly fluffy in texture, like jersey or flannel or fleece. Get into bed on the fluffy stuff, lie on your side, and "ride a bike" vigorously for 30 seconds or so- the friction of your skin against the covers will warm you up nicely. I also find that a down duvet feels warmer if I don't put a flat sheet between me and it- try ditching the flat sheet and just wash the duvet cover more often.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:51 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Agree with the electric mattress pad, and especially with taking a bath before bed.
Where I lived in Japan it got really cold and there was no central heating. The combination of those two things kept me toasty warm with no problem.
posted by exceptinsects at 6:07 PM on November 5, 2010

I have a microfiber blanket that is surprisingly warm, and super soft as well. I sleep with it under the sheets next to my skin. It feels warm right away, unlike regular blankes that you have to be under for a while to warm them up. I've seen microfiber sheet sets too, and I bet those would also help
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:30 PM on November 5, 2010

Down bed boots.
posted by effluvia at 7:02 PM on November 5, 2010

2 things: One, rev up your metabolism in the evening by working out. I'm a "cold person" all the time, not just at night, but that helps me not need layers of clothing all the time.

Second, I used to bundle up real tight in blankets and still freeze. Then somehow I got the idea that by tightening up the blankets around me, I was actually making the outside cold air closer to my body i.e., making my insulation really thin. Now I actually puff up my blankets like the kid's parachute game when I get into bed and let them settle loosely onto me. Air is a good insulator, so I try to get as much inside as possible for my body to warm up. That works really well, but I'm not sure how much of that is mental.
posted by ctmf at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2010

Eat more fat and protein. If you have excess calories and your insulin levels are normal, you will likely burn that off as heat and not put on weight. YMMV, but it works for me.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 7:48 PM on November 5, 2010

Microfiber blankets. Best insulation-to-weight ratio around. And, yeah, they're super soft and cozy.

Thermal underwear.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:50 PM on November 5, 2010

Things that help me:
sipping on hot water through the evening, so I don't get as cold before bedtime
wearing the big fluffy slippers mentioned upthread - about now you'll probably see them in holiday colors
heating up a couple of rice/bran/whatever filled bed buddies, and keeping one around my head, and one at my lower abdomen - I find if I can keep my core warm, I do better.
posted by korej at 8:58 PM on November 5, 2010

Eyebrows McGee: "Much of your body heat is lost through your head. Can you wear a knit cap to bed? (Like a skullcap.)"

Actually this has been disproven.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:12 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing flannel sheets and getting your thyroid checked. Underactive thyroid symptoms* include sensitivity to cold in the extremities as well as anemia, so that might be part of the culprit. Since a bed partner (human or animal) isn't present, I wonder if a body pillow would help at all? Maybe there's kinds that heat up...

* also hair loss, lowered libido, moodiness, constipation, weight gain, and others. It's also often hereditary on the female side, so if your mom/grandmother/sister has an underactive thyroid, that's another warning sign. It's a simple blood test.
posted by booksherpa at 10:45 PM on November 5, 2010

I had this problem 'til my husband suggested I wrap a flannel sheet around myself UNDER me, not just on top. So what I do is lie on a flannel sheet and swaddle myself in it, then I put covers over me. It is amazing how well this works. Also, I put a heating pad under my feet set on low. It is the kind that goes off after a while.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 11:32 PM on November 5, 2010

I keep the upstairs of my house about 55 F in the winter (it's just a lot cheaper to do so than not) and I too am someone who is cold all the time.

Electric mattress pads are great (I have something from Sunbeam that was pretty inexpensive). I use mine just to heat up the bed before I get in it and turn it off once I'm in and happy.

The thing that makes the most difference, though, is making sure I'm not already cold when I get into bed. So: I also have an electric blanket that lives on the downstairs couch, and usually shower and drink some tea in the hour before bed. And starting to pad around the house in slippers rather than socks has absolutely changed my life...I can't believe I didn't figure that out until I was, oh, 30.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:14 AM on November 6, 2010

Electric mattress pad (mine's a Sunbeam) and a single layer of clothing if you must. If the comforters you're talking about are your average big-box ones, you might switch to a (real or synthetic) down duvet; some cheap comforters seem to be filled with something that is the opposite of insulation.

We have two overlapping top sheets on the bed so that there's extra overhang on each side (we have dogs, they sleep down the middle, pin down the sheet, and leave us both half-covered if we just use one sheet), and it is significantly warmer under two sheets than one.

I do not sleep in clothes but I do sleep holding a body pillow, and my core stays very warm.

But really, the heated mattress pad is the thing. And it's worth buying slightly better than the absolute cheapest one, as there are wires running all through it and the cheaper ones are very thinly padded and you can feel the wires very clearly.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:21 AM on November 6, 2010

Well, IndigoRain just totally rained on my parade. I've been saying that for years, and in fact I notice a huge difference if I wear a hat. However, I suppose from now on I will attribute that to the fact that I have added another layer and covered more of my body, not because I'm covering a "more important" part of my body. Thanks for the education.
I want to point out this line from the article, too.
Because it was the only part of their bodies left uncovered, most of their heat was lost through their heads.
I think the advice to the OP still applies here, as she is bundled up in bed, her head is probably exposed, and thus loses most of her heat that way.
posted by purpletangerine at 8:35 AM on November 6, 2010

2nding memory foam, I think someone already mentioned that. I got some recently and have immediately noticed a difference in the heat retention in my bed. I've been kicking off the covers every night, and my wool socks.
posted by Rocket26 at 8:47 AM on November 6, 2010

Start with a rice sock! Take a big old sock or cut the leg from an old pair of nylons or something, fill the toe with rice until you have a nice hefty amount in there, and tie off the top. Then microwave until it's warm and toasty. You want to leave some room in there so you can shake it around, make sure there are no hot spots. It's the same idea as a water bottle but for some reason it feels much nicer on my cold toes. Dried corn is also nice and seems to stay warm longer. I throw mine in bed a few minutes before bedtime and it's so great to climb into bed and have something really hot to put my toes against (besides my husband who tends to object to the ice-feet).
posted by beandip at 3:27 PM on November 6, 2010

I would agree that you need a mattress warmer and less stuff on top of you. But if you really, really want to keep something on your feet at night: footie pajamas.
posted by anaelith at 4:36 AM on November 7, 2010

Wool fleece mattress pad under the fitted sheet. Cool in summer, warm in winter - especially because your cat will be curled up in the small of your back.
posted by rdc at 1:01 PM on November 8, 2010

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