(ORDO NEWS) — We each have our own preferences as to when is the right time to get our winter blankets out. And setting the thermostat often becomes the basis of office disputes between women and men over the “correct” temperature at which it should be set.
There are always more similarities between the sexes than differences. But studies consistently show that women prefer warmer indoor temperatures than men.
But is there science to back up the widely held belief that women “feel the cold” more than men?
Biological differences between men and women
At roughly the same body weight, women tend to have fewer muscles to generate heat. Women also have more fat between the skin and muscles, so the skin feels colder as it is a little further away from the blood vessels.
In addition, women have a lower metabolic rate than men, which reduces their ability to generate heat when exposed to cold, so women are more likely to feel cold when the temperature drops.
The hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are found in large quantities in women, contribute to an increase in body temperature and skin.
Estrogen dilates the blood vessels in the limbs. This means that more heat can be lost to the surrounding air.
And progesterone can cause vasoconstriction in the skin, which means less blood flows to certain areas to keep internal organs warmer, making women feel cooler. This hormonal balance changes throughout the month along with the menstrual cycle.
Hormones keep women’s hands, feet and ears about three degrees Celsius colder than men’s.
Body temperature is highest during the week after ovulation as progesterone levels rise. This means that during this time, women may be especially sensitive to lower air temperatures.
Although hands and feet are colder, women’s average body temperature is warmer than men’s. This is probably the origin of the saying “cold hands, warm heart”.
Is it only about people?
That some of us prefer warmer temperatures than others is not unique to humans. Studies of many bird and mammal species show that males tend to congregate in cooler areas with shade, while females and offspring stay in warmer areas with sunlight.
Male bats prefer to rest on the cool high mountaintops while females stay in the warmer valleys.
It is possible that mammalian females preferred warmer climates to rest with their offspring during the stages when the juveniles cannot regulate their body temperature on their own.
Thus, the difference between heat sensing mechanisms may provide an evolutionary advantage.
How to agree on the ideal temperature?
The Scandinavian sleep method, where couples sleep under separate blankets, is one way to overcome differences in temperature preferences.
In the workplace, personal comfort systems are thermal systems that heat or cool and can be locally located at individual work stations such as desks, chairs, or near the feet and legs. Examples include small table fans, heated chairs, blankets or foot warmers.
These systems provide individualized thermal comfort to meet personal needs without affecting other people in the same space and have been found to increase comfort satisfaction in the workplace.
They can also be an energy efficient method to balance thermal comfort and health in an office environment.
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