Layering up in winter: What you should and shouldn’t be doing

Do you know what you should be doing to stay warm in winter? This year, with the rise in energy bills and the cost of living crisis, more and more people are looking at what they can do at home and on the go to keep as toasty as possible.

At TOG24, our team is packed with outdoor experts that have been surviving in cold temperatures in the UK and across the world for decades. We feel it’s our duty to dispel some of the myths and give people a helping hand this winter. So, we did a little research to understand what people think and to bust some old wives’ tales. This is what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

It’s all about the layering…

Rather than just chucking on a coat – at home or outdoors – it’s best to layer up. According to our research 63% of Brits know that it’s better to wear three thin layers rather than one big coat.

Taking inspiration from outdoor adventuring, the three-layer system is designed to keep you dry and warm. It features a base layer for removing moisture, a mid-layer to keep you warm and an outer layer to protect you from the elements.

… but not necessarily when it comes to your socks

You may think that the more socks the better, but this actually isn’t the case. If you wear two pairs of socks the second pair compresses your feet, cutting off circulation and making your feet colder than they would be with a single pair. When in extreme cold temperatures, this impaired body flow makes your feet even more vulnerable to frostbite.

It’s an important thing to understand, as from our research we found that 70% of Brits wrongly believed that two pairs of socks are better than one.

You need to think about more than your head

We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale from when we were younger. That most of the human body’s heat is lost through your head. This isn’t true, as the head is just 10% of the body’s total surface area. If it were true it means you would need to lose about 40 times as much heat per square inch of your head as every other part of your body, just to lose 75% of your body’s heat through the head. It simply isn’t the case.

So, whilst it’s still important to wear a hat, this shouldn’t stop you appropriately layering everywhere else. We also found through our research, that 70% of people do still believe this old wives’ tale.

Don’t stick your coat on around the house before you go out

It may be a famous line from Peter Kay, but it actually rings true. And thankfully 55% of Brits were aware of this according to our research.

If you keep your coat on indoors, it makes it harder for your body to shed heat from your core. Warm blood is then pumped from your core to your skin to compensate which causes your skin temperature to rise. When you then go outside, the air will feel colder on the exposed skin than it would otherwise have done, since the difference in temperature is now greater.

You can go out with wet hair

Again, this was an old wives’ tale that if you went out with wet hair you would catch a chill. And again, it isn’t true.

Whilst going out with wet hair might make you feel cold and uncomfortable, you can’t catch a cold. Viruses that are transmitted through bodily fluids cause colds, flu and Covid. To be infected with these viruses, you need to come into contact with someone already infected – wet hair in cold temperatures simply isn’t a factor. Thankfully, 61% of Brits are already aware of this.

Think twice about what you drink

Hot drinks or alcohol. We’ve all been there when we’re trying to warm up. And 40% of Brits believe that drinking alcohol will warm the cockles, whilst 70% think this is the case with a good old cup of tea or coffee.

In fact, neither work. Alcohol opens up the blood vessels below the skin with more blood and heat flowing into them. This then takes heat away from the core of your body – it might make you feel warm in the short term as your skin is warm, but your vital organs won’t be getting enough blood to work normally.

Hot drinks may also cool you down. When you drink hot drinks, a receptor in your tongue tells your brain it’s getting hot. This then causes your body to sweat which will cool you down.

Don’t just jump in the shower

If you’re keeping the heating off, you might decide to treat yourself to a hot shower instead to warm up. And with 80% of Brits believing a hot shower will increase the body’s temperature, you wouldn’t be alone in this thinking.

But just hold off that hot shower. A warm shower stimulates the body’s thermoregulatory system, which causes blood circulation to take place away from your core to your hands and feet. This actually removes heat and causes your body temperature to go down.

Keep your bedroom cool

Yes we all want our bedrooms to be as cosy as possible, but we actually sleep better when the room is cooler. A fact that 71% of Brits are aware of.

The reasoning behind this is that a cold sleeping environment helps lower your body temperature, which makes it easier to experience deep sleep. Lower temperatures also help with melatonin production which means you’ll get better quality sleep too. This is why you’ll usually feel well-rested after sleeping in a cold room. So don’t unnecessarily crank that heating up in your bedroom this winter.

With just a few simple changes you can make sure you stay as warm as possible this winter. Good luck!

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