Men – Relinquish that duvet!

November 22, 2008

The nightly battle of the duvet is an unreported phenomena of sharing a bed – and women seem to come off worse. No one has yet shelled out research money to find out why even the smallest and slightest of men has the grip of a stevedore when it comes to holding onto the duvet and hauling it over to their side of the bed – and I am sure someone will manage to get a grant after I have mentioned it! Well, appealing to your better nature chaps, although there is a lot of variation in how individuals feel the cold depending on a number of factors such as age, fitness, diet and sleep pattern there is one factor that is constant. Women tend to feel the cold more than men do – although I would say menopausal women are exempt from this as hot flushes can heat an entire room never mind a double bed.

Happily there is an expert to tell us why, and according to Mike Tipton, Professor of Human Physiology at the University of Portsmouth, it’s because we evolved on the Equator which makes us creatures of the Tropics. Since we all moved out to explore the world with our cooking pots and mammoths on a string, we have learned to reproduce our hot homeland by learning how to build fires and inventing central heating.

Although we feel hot and cold throughout the day, our core body temperature – that of our vital organs – is always kept at about 37C and we must maintain that level for survival. Just a 2C drop can cause hypothermia, a 12C drop results in death. If you want to keep, and feel, warm this winter you need to concentrate on your hands and feet. This is particularly important for women as research shows that they are better at conserving heat than men because they have a more evenly distributed fat layer and can pull all their blood back to their core organs. It’s thought that women do this because they carry less fat and muscle mass than men, and so need a more efficient technique of protecting their core body temperature. Next time someone suggests you are a bit overweight try blaming your core organs, it’s much more effective that saying you just can’t resist an extra biscuit.

BUT, because women operate in this way it means that less blood flows to their hands and feet, and as a result they feel cold – certainly colder than men usually do.

There are a number of factors that can affect how cold women feel, menopause obviously is one and so are various points of the menstrual cycle where the core body temperature can often vary by more than 1C. Most of us recognise that when we are tired we are also more sensitive to changes in temperature and feel the cold more, and as our body temperature falls at night, that’s when we women feel it most as they reach their minimum body temperature quicker than men.


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