+
upworthy
Health

A body temperature expert explains why some people are always freezing

And there's a scientific reason that it's more common for women.

A body temperature expert explains why some people are always freezing



You wear extra chunky sweaters. You've never met a mitten you didn't like. You may even keep a lap blanket at work.

You're one of those people who is always cold. And you are not alone.

Inside or outside, you just can't seem to get warm. This characteristic of yours manifests itself in extra blankets, wild heating bills, and enough complaints that you start going hoarse.



But surely there's a scientific reason as to why some people are always cold, right?

It can't just be random chance that has doomed you to a life of perpetual shivers. I reached out to an expert to learn more.

Dr. Christopher Minson is a professor in the department of human physiology at the University of Oregon. One of his primary research interests is thermoregulation, that's how the brain and body interact and adapt as we heat and cool. Plainly put, he is the perfect guy to answer a few questions from #TeamCold.

(This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Upworthy (UP): So what is actually happening in the body when a person gets chilly?

Dr. Chris Minson (CM): 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. 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.

UP: Is there a reason this seems to largely impact women?

CM: The people who feel “always cold" will typically have lower muscle mass relative to body surface area (typically, women and older people). 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. However, there hasn't been enough good data collected on this theory to confirm or disprove it.

This also explains a frequent frustrations about women and men in relationships...

CM: A common complaint by women and men in relationships is that women's feet are often very cold, especially in bed. That goes along with the lower body mass to surface area relationship in women. 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.

So there you have it: Your brain is simply an overworked project manager trying to keep you alive. But there are a few things you can do about it.

UP: If you are a person who is always cold, is there anything you can do to "retrain" your body, so to speak?

CM: One of the best things someone can do is to increase their fat-free mass (muscle). This will increase overall metabolic rate (although it's not easy to do.)

Another thing a person could do is undergo cold-stresses, such as allowing themselves to be exposed to very cold temperatures for short periods of time. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's been suggested that this could decrease the sensation of feeling cold. An example is putting the shower on 'cold' for a short period of time in the shower. Not easy to do, and you would want to build up to a full minute each day, but in some people it can help them to decrease the feeling of being cold.

UP: There are a lot of jokes at the expense of people who are always cold, but at what point does it go from "I'm always cold, and it's a quirky thing about me" to "I'm always cold and I should probably see my doctor"?

CM: There is the possibility that someone's perpetual coldness could be caused by abnormally low thyroid hormone levels, and that can be verified with a blood test. That is by far the rarer condition, but taking hormone supplements if medically needed can help. If a person is quite lethargic, has low motivation, and is always cold, it might be worth having thyroid hormones evaluated.

So if you are a lap-blanket wearing member of #TeamCold, don't fret.

You are strong. You are capable. And unless you have pain or some of the symptoms Minson mentioned, there is likely nothing wrong with you. Our bodies just require different things of us, and yours requires that you have to deal with an overly-air conditioned-society. My sincerest apologies. On behalf of #TeamHot, your next cocoa is on me.


This article originally appeared on 02.13.18

Pop Culture

Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

Keep ReadingShow less

A beautiful ship crosses the ocean.

Bryan James has become popular on social media for documenting his time working on Royal Caribbean International’s Odyssey of the Seas. He boarded the ship on December 8, 2023, and will continue his voyage through April 9, 2024.

The Odyssey of the Seas is one of the largest cruise ships in operation. It is 1,138 feet long and has a gross tonnage of 167,704 with 16 decks.

In a recent video, he revealed the biggest threat to passengers on a cruise ship. While most people, citing the Titanic disaster of 1912, would say it’s icebergs, according to James, it’s fires. He recently shared a video that shows just how seriously the Odyssey of the Seas takes the fire threat. The ship has massive doors installed in the ship that can prevent fire from moving through the ship.

Keep ReadingShow less

A mother confronts her daughter for judging her friend's weight.

A 42-year-old mother wondered whether she did the right thing by disciplining her 18-year-old daughter, Abby, who disinvited a friend from vacation because of her weight. The mother asked people on Reddit for their opinion.

For some background, Abby had struggled with her weight for many years, so she went to her mother for help. The two set up a program where Abby was given a reward for every milestone she achieved.

“Four months ago, she asked that I don't get her any more rewards and add it up to her birthday gift, and for her gift she wants a vacation I will pay for, for her and her friends instead of the huge party I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the mother wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

Our minds are overstimulated, leading us to crave distractions.

If you have a hard time staying focused on a task, you're not alone. In a Crucial Learning poll of 1,600 people, two out of three responded that they have a hard time staying focused on one task or one person. And this difficulty focusing happens in both of the major areas of life, with 68% responding that they have a hard time focusing at work and 62% said they struggle to focus at home.

It's not surprising that most people have attention deficit issues, considering what the vast majority of us are carrying around with us all day long. It's no longer just other people who occasionally interrupt what we're doing, but rather our daily barrage of message, emails, app notifications, news headlines, social media check-ins, advertisements and other distractions our phones or other handheld devices offer us.

However, according to productivity expert Chris Bailey, it's not so much the distractions that are keeping us from focusing, but rather the overstimulation of our brains that cause us to seek out distractions in the first place.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Motivation expert explains how two simple words can free you from taking things personally

You don't need to take responsibility for everything and everyone.

Mel Robinson making a TED Talk.

Towards the end of The Beatles’ illustrious but brief career, Paul McCartney wrote “Let it Be,” a song about finding peace by letting events take their natural course. It was a sentiment that seemed to mirror the feeling of resignation the band had with its imminent demise.

The bittersweet song has had an appeal that has lasted generations and that may be because it reflects an essential psychological concept: the locus of control.

“It’s about understanding where our influence ends and accepting that some things are beyond our control,” Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist, told The Huffington Post. “We can’t control others, so instead, we should focus on our own actions and responses.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Heroes

This quick-thinking teen cleverly befriended a woman's kidnapper to rescue her

Malyk Bonnet did a very brave thing: He listened to his gut.


You've probably been there. You're out and about and you see something that just feels ... off.

"Should I step in? ... But it's not really any of my business. ... And I'm not even sure they need my help..."

Keep ReadingShow less