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.
Sick of people mocking me about wearing a coat inside, at the office. Yes, I wear a coat. Yes, I’m cold. Yes, I’m always cold. Yes, I know it’s hot outside but the air conditioning inside is freezing.
Just let me do me and shhh your mouth.
— Miss Trey Jargon (@ARustySour) February 12, 2018
I am literally always cold like I never turn the heat down in my car & it’s always on full & my space heater is like glued to my feet even with fuzzy socks and blankets like????,?
— tess mueske Ⓥ (@tesssmueskee) February 7, 2018
As someone who is nearly always cold, you have my sympathy. Being the wrong temperature is miserable, especially when you’re out of kilter with everyone around you.
— Schopflin (@Schopflin) February 12, 2018
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 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.