I guess I *AM* the ice queen
November 6, 2015 7:56 PM   Subscribe

I am cold all the time. Help me not freeze to death.

I am one of those people who is cold all the time. If it gets below 75 I have to pull out a wool sweater and winter coat. Now it has gotten down to 50 and I think I am going to die. Every night I go to sleep shivering under my comforter. I have to drink hot tea constantly to not be freezing. This is not an extremities getting cold thing, it is my whole body, which leads to very painful cramping in my back and neck. Can you help me find the right clothing, blankets etc. to stay warm?

What doesn't work:
I've tried many, many things in the past to stay warm, including:
Silk long underwear (does not keep me warm)
Wool gloves and hats (itchy! and not warm)
Flannel sheets (comfy, not warm)
Down and synthetic comforters (great for 75-80 degree weather!)
Minus zero sleeping bags (minus zero success with this)
Smart wool socks (haha, my toes freeze)
Wearing a hat and finger-less gloves all the time (cute! not warm)
Wearing 4-5 layers (warm, but then I can't move)

Stuff that has worked:
I have a heavy bathrobe that is made out of 100% polyester. This is warm!!
I have a pair of Patagonia thermals (of this style) - warm, but pricey!
I have a space heater...it sort of helps...

I have very little money to spend on this, so anything I get has to be awesome!! Would prefer something that is warm enough to only wear as one-two layers (instead of 4-5). Can you help me?
posted by Toddles to Shopping (43 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
You need a heated mattress pad, yesterday.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:00 PM on November 6, 2015 [20 favorites]

Mattress pad, and then heated throws for the couch. I get too hot under them, but my cat loves hers.
posted by xingcat at 8:01 PM on November 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

These RedHead socks are amazing, way better than SmartWool.

- They are super thick, kind of like wearing a sheep... on your legs. The thickness extends through to the very toes, which isn't always the case with other socks.
- They're not itchy.
- They go all the way up to just under your knee, unlike most socks which stop mid-calf.
- They have a lifetime guarantee (!). If they ever wear out, you can get a free replacement. Might have to pay shipping, but still.

I read recently that if your feet are warm, it'll trick the rest of your body into thinking it's warm too. Apparently your body really cares about the temperature of your feet, more than other extremities. Not sure if I believe it, but it's probably true for some people, and it might be worth experimenting to see if you're one of them.
posted by danceswithlight at 8:08 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, also, hot water bottles or a bag of rice that you microwave and then put next to your feet in bed.

To make the bag of rice, take an old t-shirt or towel, rubber band one end tightly closed, fill halfway with rice, then rubber band the other end tightly closed. Microwave for a few minutes (experiment with timing - you want it warm, not steaming hot). Holds heat for about an hour. Place under your feet and be toasty warm!
posted by danceswithlight at 8:13 PM on November 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Have you had your thyroid checked? Iirc am imbalancecan affect temperature regulation
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:14 PM on November 6, 2015 [30 favorites]

Electric blanket?

I was going to suggest stuff like socks and hats, but apparently those don't work for you?

Have you... talked to your doctor about this? Is there any reason you think this might be happening? Have you always been this way? Unless you recently moved away from one of the world's hottest climates, this is not super normal and could be a sign of health problems. Most people who grew up in temperate climates find things like parkas, wool, and down warm enough for subzero temperatures, let alone 72 and sunny.
posted by Sara C. at 8:15 PM on November 6, 2015 [11 favorites]

Try a thermal undershirt made of modal. I have one of these I put on when I get cold under whatever I'm wearing (which is usually only a t-shirt) and it warms me up fast. Sometimes I get too warm in it and end up taking it off! It warms me up better/faster than just about anything else I own.
posted by atinna at 8:16 PM on November 6, 2015

Ginger tea, cayenne pepper. These items are micro vascular dilators and help nice, warm blood flow to your extremities. You should see an endocrinologist. You are describimg something very like rigors and that means something is off. Usually when your blood leaves the extremities and pools around the internal organs it is an emergency measure. Find out what is up.
posted by Oyéah at 8:23 PM on November 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Are you chronically sleep deprived? I feel unbelievably cold when I haven't had enough sleep, no matter how reasonable the environment is.
posted by ktkt at 8:24 PM on November 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Eat enough; if I get distracted and don't eat not only am I mean, I am cold.

Wear a (polyester) hat to bed. Wear scarves around the house (wrapped more than once so they trap some nice air insulation in there). I'm mostly a cold hands+feet person, so I have fingerless gloves to wear at work while typing.

Can you see if you can find used versions of the things that do work? New patagonia gear is certainly stupidly pricey, but maybe there's a used gear shop around that would have them cheaper.
posted by nat at 8:31 PM on November 6, 2015

I love hot packs/wheat bags/whatever people call them (in my household we call them "hotties"). Microwaved for 2 or 3 minutes to stay warm for at least an hour or two. Perfect for putting next to my feet or for curling up with.

(Faux) mink blankets are also excellent for an extra layer of warmth.

N-thing calls to get checked out by a doctor if you haven't already. There are probably heaps of little things (vitamin deficiencies, thyroid issues etc) that could cause this and could hopefully be fixed pretty easily.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:33 PM on November 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

The scarves should be wrapped around your neck, not the house, in case my wording was unclear. Also scarves don't have to be super fancy for this-- get some polar fleece, you can find it on sale for 5 bucks a yard, and just cut off a strip. That's a scarf.

And I just noticed you mentioned you've tried wearing the hat all the time - as well as fingerless gloves- so ignore those bits-- but, do try the hat for sleep if you haven't yet.
posted by nat at 8:34 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Down comforters together with any of the other stuff would work for someone who's medically healthy and in a heated indoor environment. 2nd Sara C and fffm and others, sounds like something's wrong there.

Also, are you significantly underweight (if yes, gain weight, if you can)?
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:36 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another vote for seeing the doctor.

For me the efficacy of silk long underwear depends a lot on what I'm wearing it under. However, most of these things just trap your body heat, and I wonder if they're not working for you because you just don't have much body heat to trap?

Doctor. Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 8:38 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Tips from Canada:

- 50 is cold. Why is it 50? Is that the weather outside, or in the house? It should not be 50 in your house.

- Are you dry? Are your clothes dry? Is your house dry? No matter how much you layer on, if your clothes (socks especially) are even a little bit damp, you'll freeze your ass off all day long.

- Silk long underwear is dumb. People (the manufacturers, mostly) recommend it based on its heat-sealing-in-ness, but the fabric itself tends to get cold to the touch and transfer that cold straight through, so what good is that? Sealing is not insulating. Also, that same heat-sealing-in-ness, if it does work, can cause you to sweat, and, well, see above re: damp. What you want are the waffly cotton thermals or synthetic "moisture wicking" fleece sort of stuff.

- Wool hats can be itchy, but acrylic exists. All kinds of yarn exist, with all kinds of textures. You're not beholden to the itchiest wools in the world. (Make your own hat! Loom knitting tuques is super-duper easy -- you can go from not knowing the first thing to having a complete hat in about two hours -- and you can choose your own super-soft yarn that beats any store-bought hat.) Wear it to bed. Wash it often.

- Mittens! Not gloves: Mittens. Leather ones will keep your hands toasty warm even well below zero. That's overkill, though. If you need your fingers, get convertibles.

- Sheets -- flannel or whatever -- don't matter, if you have a big thick down duvet insulating your body heat in. Protip: Pull it up over your head and breathe under there for a while. Breath is warm! (Down is amazing. As much as I'd massively prefer to use a synthetic alternative, there just isn't one.)

- Ugg boots for around the house. I know, they're so ten years ago, but your feet can't be cold if they're stuffed in an inside-out sheep.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:41 PM on November 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm cold virtually all the time. What helps me is anything warm I can drink. Hot cocoa, hot tea, coffee. As for clothing... fleece is my best friend. And try keeping a warm hat on your head and fleece socks when you go to bed. I suggest having a Brookstone throw blankets when you go to sleep. Theres a warming and cooling side. The warm side is made out of a fleece blend and I swear by it during the cold winter months!
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 8:48 PM on November 6, 2015

Also Duvets & comforters come in different ratings. A summer rated one isn't going to do you any good in winter. There is a HUGE difference in the loft etc of the stuffing between them.

Also go the electric mattress pad route it will change your life. My mother pretty much lives in bed once she gets home in winter.

Also you want slippers or shoes with socks when you are out of bed.

Honestly though if you are feeling cold that cold in the 75F - 50F range you should go to see a doctor & rule out anything medical.
posted by wwax at 9:24 PM on November 6, 2015

My favorite slippers ever are the Restoration Hardware foot duvets--basically down-filled booties. They're on sale right now! If you layer them with thick wool socks, like heavy-duty hiking socks, your feet will be crazy warm.
posted by serelliya at 9:28 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, I'm similar. A lot of the cold-weather advice assumes your body is giving off a lot of heat and you just need to contain it, but that doesn't work when my core temp drops — I need an input of extra heat! What ended up making a HUGE difference was an electric throw for the couch and an electric mattress pad for my bed. I don't leave the latter on when I sleep, just turn it on an hour before I go to bed and get to climb into nice warm sheets. Basically, it gets my core temp back up whenever it crashes. Huge difference.

These socks were also a godsend, and the arm warmer thing at work (i can't deal with the fingerless gloves, but I wear something like these all winter). And long underwear, which won't help raise your core temp but can help you maintain it when moving between warm and cold areas.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:35 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Warm your bed - whether with a hot water bottle or an electric blanket - before you get into bed, paying special attention to the bit where your feet will go. And, yes, see a doctor if your house is what others would consider an acceptable temperature.
posted by tavegyl at 9:51 PM on November 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is less helpful when you're trying to get to sleep, but it works well for me when I'm working a sedentary office job -- take a break to do some jumping jacks or air squats or walk a flight of stairs, anything to move. Getting the blood pumping a bit is good for general health and will warm you up faster than a space heater. Even though I can't work while exercising, I end up wasting more time shivering than I do taking three minutes to move my body, so I consider it time well used both for me and for my employer. Takes less time than a smoke break would, anyway.

Having that extra body heat from motion gives all those insulating clothes something to hang on to.
posted by asperity at 9:53 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, layering a duvet with a blanket can feel warmer than a thicker duvet. For instance: fleece blanket next to your body, then a duvet, and finally a heavier blanket.
posted by tavegyl at 9:54 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am someone who is also very often very cold, and getting into bed, or putting on warm stuff just keeps me cold (because I am already as cold as a corpse).

So here's what I do:

Do something to get warm - either a hot shower or bath, or sleeping in a bed with an electric blanket. Once you are warm, it's not too hard to keep it all in. Those polyester thermal things are really good, I sometimes wear a super thin one (as opposed to the waffly ones) all day. Wool socks, wool wrist warmers (like a band of fabric that just covers your wrist, not up onto your hand), and a wool hat if I go out, and always a long sleeved top. If your house is drafty, something warm to cover the back of your neck is really good. I know you say wool makes you itch, but you might have better luck with better quality wool, or if you are sensitive to wool, try alpaca (different animal and it is also warmer). The warmest thing I ever wore was a cardigan made of merino, silk and possum fur. Wool or something as insulatey as wool will absolutely *keep* you warm, but it sounds like you struggle to be warm to begin with. Keeping warm in those sorts of transition times, like from bed to shower really helps. I sometimes wear bedsocks, not because I'm cold in bed, but to stop myself from getting cold when I get up. Wear shoes or slippers around the house with a good insulated sole. I'm currently wearing felted wool slippers (with wool socks when it's very cold), but any thick sole will help.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 10:53 PM on November 6, 2015

Two-liter bottles work just fine as hot water bottles, no need to buy anything.

There are inexpensive "slippers" that are basically polyester-filled pillows with holes to stick your feet in and flip-flop foam soles sewn inside.

I tend to be too hot rather than too cold, but when I'm sleeping somewhere it's 50 °F or below I usually go with quantity of blankets, easily a stack of ten, rather than any particular type of blanket. I'd be freezing too with just a single comforter. Even extra flat sheets between blankets can help to trap heat.

Once you've got a thick stack of blankets the thermal mass enhances the effect of hot water bottles - you want to fill the hot water bottles and put them in bed a half-hour or an hour before you go to sleep so that everything is warmed up ahead of time.
posted by XMLicious at 11:36 PM on November 6, 2015

Oh, and you can also fill a two-liter bottle with hot water and just rest your feet on it when you're sitting at a desk or something during the day.
posted by XMLicious at 11:38 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm getting a lot out of this thread, thanks for asking this question! (I work from home in an uninsulated house with the only source of heat as far as possible from my computer, and I'm also naturally very cold. I usually sit down at my desk with heattech leggings on under jeans and a heattech long sleeve shirt with a cashmere thermal over it, and then an LL bean flannel , and theeeen a grandpa cardigan on top. I put on smartwool socks and stuff my feet into slippers, then I wrap myself in a wool blanket scarf. Then handwarmers and sometimes a hat. Yup.)

Anyway, I am in love with the Uniqlo fleece room shoes. I have these ones and paired with cushy socks my normally ice cold feet are toasty.

I know you said wool is too itchy, but I have to recommend wearing a heattech long sleeve shirt under a well-fitting lambswool sweater. It's super warm and super soft.
posted by moons in june at 12:02 AM on November 7, 2015

I’m interpreting this as: you feel cold enough to want a sweater/coat when it’s in the low 70s (which is common enough/not freakishly abnormal in my opinion), and that you can't wear enough layers to get warm and have neck cramps, etc. when it’s in the 50s.

I agree with the comment above that 50 degrees is too cold for an indoor temperature and also that the best thing to do at night is to put the blanket(s) over your head. I do this and I think it’s the reason why I’m never cold at night even though I usually/often am during the day in typical ‘room temperature’ environments. Although, I’m not sure about 50 degrees, it works well for sleeping in a ~60 degree room.

Also, what kind of space heater do you have? The oil-filled radiator looking ones are more effective at heating a room that the fan or grill type ones.
posted by car s at 12:16 AM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I came here to say heated mattress pad. I actually used a queen size electric blanket as a combination mattress pad + blanket for my solo nights for several years; it was a delight.
posted by samthemander at 12:23 AM on November 7, 2015

My secret for keeping my feet warm is synthetic liner socks under wool socks. Silk doesn't work. Also have a hot shower before going to bed/ getting dressed.

An electric blanket/ matress pad turned on high 30 minutes before going to bedand then on low for the night works well. I have one with different zones for feet and body that are controlled separately. I turn the foot zone up higher.

You can also put extra blankets under the duvet and also under the bottom sheet. In the past i have also had a sheepskin to go under the bottom sheet.

Take a microwave heat bag to work to warm up your desk and then to help keep your hands warm during the day.

If your hands get cold run them under hot water until they are warm and then dry them completely.

Sheepskin moccasins are amazing to wear with socks.
posted by poxandplague at 2:20 AM on November 7, 2015

My electric duvet is a godsend. I suppose a heated mattress pad would be great too, but I like that this thing is portable, and when I want to sit on the couch in the living room, I can drag it in there. I toss a nice duvet cover on it, and it looks and feels great.

Also, I am looking into getting a heated vest of some kind this winter, because being outside is agony. The one I lined to is pricey, but there are other options.

Personally, I am healthy and there is no good reason for me to get this cold, but I simply am cold almost all the time. Whenever I am not underneath my awesome duvet, I carry my space heater from room to room, and have to keep it blowing on me at all times, straight through June usually!

I really recommend getting checked out by a doctor though, because while this could just be an unfortunate quirk, it sounds like it could also be something either solvable or serious.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:28 AM on November 7, 2015

I recently got a wool-stuffed duvet, and it is both thinner and much warmer than my old down one. I adore it. Also 2nd hot water bottle.
posted by Gordafarin at 4:42 AM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've found that sleeping in a hooded fleece sweatshirt is better than trying to wear a hat at night, because it also keeps my neck warm and is less likely to fall off if I move around in my sleep.
posted by belladonna at 5:12 AM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wool duvet plus microfleece blanket on top or underneath next to you (instant no cold and the wool will keep the warm in) is so nice and warm.

If fleece/polyester feels warm there are fleece options at outdoor stores, I would just go for all fleece top and bottom, a thick pair and a thinner pair and see how that goes, layer wool on top for where you can't feel it if needed.
posted by lafemma at 5:20 AM on November 7, 2015

When I get cold I find it difficult to get warm again. Since life involves going outside In January, my secret to being warm in bed is to take a hot shower or bath just before bed. This warms me up and then the blankets can keep that warmth in. Otherwise I bring no heat into the bed and it never warms up.
posted by sadmadglad at 6:27 AM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

NO/LOW COST things to do (but these only really apply inside your home sorry)

Heat up a big pot of water, with a lid, and carry it to whatever room you want to be warm. Crack the lid if you want to heat up the whole room with steam, which is what I'd recommend. Leave the lid on tight if you just want a hotpot to put your feet on. That's what I did after Hurricane Sandy, when we didn't have any heat for a week and a half.

Similarly, taking a hot bath really helps. I was surprised to find that it's way better than a shower. Especially when you feel like you haven't been properly warm in months, it feels so good to surround yourself with heat til you're warm to the core.

The cheapest and laziest thing I ever did was just ... have a heating pad on. All the time. Heating pad + regular blanket = electric blanket. Actually, I'd snuggle the heating pad between my legs a lot of the time, or against my back, and let the heat radiate out from there. And flex your muscles when you're just sitting down, even when you're trying to go to sleep. It's actually the fastest way to get warm under the covers - thrash around a lot.

and #NOTALLBLANKETS are good blankets, i swear, i am so so mad at the crochet blankets I'm given. Best is a thick blanket or a quilt, but I actually have a ...... I guess it's polyester? Polyester fleece oversize throw. They've gotten a lot better at making whatever material that is.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 8:29 AM on November 7, 2015

Make sure the house is sealed, insulated and turn up the thermostat. That's what it's there for. My wife is always cold, and I'm like, we are not pioneers, heat is a thing that we have.

Some people turn their thermostats way down because of cost or conservation concerns or recommendations first laid down in the 1950s. Which is great, wear a sweater and all that. But it's 2015, household technology is better, and thermostat timers are a thing, so it won't kill anything to turn up the heat a bit at night when you need it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:34 AM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've got to agree with snickerdoodle: I'm a fellow cold person and plenty of people have told you great ways to get warm in the moment when you're cold. But nothing has made me happier about my decision a while back to get more fit and build up some muscle (I do starting strength off/on, but I don't think it matters what exactly) than the side effect of a higher metabolism. I don't seem to be a cold person as much any more. Thank fucking god. I mean, I still am when compared to other people, but I don't sit shivering in a perfectly normal-temperature-for-an-air-conditioned-office office anymore. I don't have to keep putting on and taking off a sweater on a sunny day because of a slight chilly breeze as much anymore. It's nice.
posted by ctmf at 1:48 PM on November 7, 2015

Also, I was using blankets wrong for the longest time. They don't work as well if you snug them around you. It's the air between them and you that gets warm. When you get into bed, lift up the covers, sucking in as much air as you can, then let them settle down onto you gently, trapping all that air. It's cold for a minute, then all that air starts warming up.
posted by ctmf at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2015

Fleece sheets take away that horrible CRINGE when you slide into bed and hit cold sheets. It happens with flannel sheets too; they take a while to warm up. Fleece feel warm even without an electric bed warmer.

And a hot toddy before bed gives me a warm glow.
posted by LaBellaStella at 3:15 PM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

your feet can't be cold if they're stuffed in an inside-out sheep

Seconding this. My sheepskin slippers work better than anything. Even the duck down footie bags aren't as warm for my toes.

Electric blankets rock! They also make electric throws for at work or on the couch.

Fleece sheets are way warmer than flannel.
posted by irisclara at 11:00 PM on November 7, 2015

i am so so mad at the crochet blankets I'm given

Crocheted ones are good for layering - if you've got other blankets or sheets on the top and bottom that keep the warm air trapped, they're incredibly insulating. But if they're all you've got or are the top layer, they don't do much.
posted by XMLicious at 12:42 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have wool socks from Costco that keep my feet warm (thank god). Arm warmers when I'm working (or heated gloves that plug in to USB). Heated foot warmer thingy from Amazon.

Are you on any medication that might cause this? How often do you exercise?
posted by getawaysticks at 10:40 PM on November 8, 2015

I'm gonna go with metabolics.

1. Food == calories == energy to warm up 1 kilogram of water 1 degree. 200 calories of food, properly metabolized, will raise your temp for a bit.

2. But you need muscle mass to burn that energy with. Longer term you may want to exercise a bit.

3. If that's not working, hypothyroidism and other metabolic disorders often cause temperature discomfort by impairing the functions of 1&2.
posted by pwnguin at 11:08 PM on November 9, 2015

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