Winter is coming...and I ain't no Jon Snow
September 25, 2013 4:53 AM   Subscribe

Can I raise my internal temperature/reduce my sensitivity to cold? I've always lived in cold regions (midwest, new england) but I've equally always been the one whining when it's 50 degrees out. Literally, it is 50 right now and I just got out of bed and put a big fluffy bathrobe over my long pjs and was still cold. I know all the obvs things to do to get warmer in the moment (bath, hot coffee, layers, long underwear, etc) but is there any way I can stop being so sensitive to it in the first place?
posted by Calicatt to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Do you find that you're more sensitive in the fall than in the spring? Winter and summer already do a lot to sensitize and de-sensitize us. For me, 50 degrees in March is practically beach weather, but by October it's nothing more than brisk.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:00 AM on September 25, 2013

Exercise several times a week. I am the same way, and it makes a big difference. I also remember seeing a study that bike commuters have a higher than average ability to thermoregulate. Obviously other factors can play a part too (thyroid disorders, etc), but it is a good place to start.
posted by susanvance at 5:37 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think the key is to increase your metabolism, by being more active. It's like how shivers work, when you vibrate your whole body it is like an adrenaline rush that pops you up to the next level of activity. You mention getting out of bed, and that is the perfect example of a time when you need to ramp it up fast. I cultivate my shivers and use them as a tool.
posted by bitslayer at 5:39 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding RonButNotStupid: the temperature right now is too damn cold for me, but in five months the same temperature will be too damn hot.

And nthing exercise. Just a few push-ups (substitute convenient physical activity of your choice) and I feel like I've turned the thermostat up ten degrees. I've also noticed that my feet, which used to be alarmingly icy from October through March, now actually resemble living people feet in the winter, thanks to regular exercise.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:53 AM on September 25, 2013

I second susanvance's suggestion. I always used to be cold; a few years ago I started running a few times a week. One of the noteworthy changes (aside from, y'know, being healthy and all) was that I'm comfortable with fewer blankets and with the thermostat lower at night. I think it has to do with the fact that muscle tissues generate heat. (Whereas fat insulates & keeps that heat in.)
posted by jeffjon at 5:53 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've found that low-carbing solves some of this issue. Calories don't get stored, they go right to the furnace, so to speak. Warm feet -hmmm.
posted by Namlit at 6:33 AM on September 25, 2013

Exercise, yes, but also try and make sure you stay hydrated (meaning: drink more water or other non-diuretic beverage, i.e. not containing caffeine or alcohol). This will help with circulation, and should be done anyway if you decide to exercise more.
posted by aecorwin at 7:38 AM on September 25, 2013

Get outside in the colder weather more, preferably while it's daylight out. It doesn't have to be vigorous exercise, go for a nice walk every day. I find even in the depths of winter if I can get outside, bundled up appropriately, I feel warmer for the rest of the day. My theory, with no scientific backing at all as far as I know, is it resets my brain to know it's winter, a bit like changing the thermostat from cooling to heating.
posted by wwax at 9:15 AM on September 25, 2013

If you have any other symptoms of an underactive thyroid, get your thyroid checked out. I am so much warmer now that I'm on thyroid medication.
posted by town of cats at 10:15 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am the same way. I also noticed that bike commuting helps a lot.
posted by bradbane at 10:39 AM on September 25, 2013

Resolve to get outside more, and to exercise while outside. Bundle up in layers, because you feel cold and it feels bad to go outside because it's cold out there. Take a brisk walk, jog, whatever. Having music with you might help. You'll warm up quickly and soon be removing layers. It's easy to get chilled while sitting still, and once you get chilled, it's hard to go outside, but then you do, and it works, and you're all I am tougher than the cold. For cold mornings and evenings, get good, lined slippers, and maybe a hat. I drink coffee 1st thing, and it warms me up. Decaffeinated or herbal tea works at bedtime. I keep my heat pretty low, but I have an electric blanket to pre-heat the bed, and a fluffy down-alternative comforter that warms up fast. I also have several fleece throws on the couch.
posted by theora55 at 12:21 PM on September 25, 2013

Low resistance, high reps, high speed. Jogging on the spot and star jumps are good.
posted by flabdablet at 12:31 PM on September 25, 2013

When I was anemic my feet were always cold, so maybe get tested for that if you haven't already. But don't take iron unless you know for sure.
posted by SyraCarol at 3:05 PM on September 25, 2013

This may just be you.

Exercise does not make me warmer if it exposes me to more air. Even when I am out of shape, my recovery rate is terrific so I can get cold again in no time. I can drink hot - not room temp or lukewarm but hot like for tea - water because drinking anything less in a cold room (such as a movie theater) freezes me.

My circulation is textbook -although I have pretty much the lowest legally "normal" BP. My thyroid if fine. I have been anemic but am not now.

Have you talked to a GP about your usual vital signs and how you are always cold? (Be prepared to be mocked as a reptile. )

You should just try to enjoy the fact that you can work outdoors all day in August and then bundle up in the winter (and the mall and other peoples' air-conditioned cars.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:52 PM on September 25, 2013

Eat more protein.
From studies on myself one cold winter, ha! A sandwich with hummus and fishfingers for breakfast kept me warm and full til lunchtime, whereas porridge left me colder, and hungry at 10.

Get enough sleep
People get the chills if they didn't get their middle-of-the-night sleep - if I skip a nights sleep, I'm just cold inside all day.

[Basically there is an energy triangle of Food - Sleep - Heat. If you don't get enough of one, your body will try and compensate with the other two.]


Don't get too hot?
For me, I think my body is trying to acclimate to the temperature, and if I get really hot, by being in an over-warm room or something, it goes back to attempting to cut off all circulation to my hands and feet. Fail body, fail.
I mean, there's plenty of people who have the opposite approach, and the sauna thing seems to be based on going cold/hot/cold to... increase tolerance to temperature changes or something?
But more generally making sure I don't have heaters up too high, or too hot at night, seems to help me cope.


Carry a knit cap (in NZ english, a beanie) in your bag at all times. It is the smallest item to best warmth ratio thing you can wear. You lose a lot of heat through your head, so put one on, and feel warm all over.


Cold Extremities
Lots of cold is actually poor circulation.

In a pinch, take some ginko biloba, from a health food store, for a temporary quick-fix.

All the exercise recommendations will sort that out as well.


I'm a cold wuss, but I have people who swear by the turning the temperature hot/cold/hot/cold in the shower thing.
posted by Elysum at 5:35 PM on September 25, 2013

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