My Tools & Tricks to Handle Cold Dark Winters in Chicago

November 30, 2013


Quick Read Summary:
Optimize correct temperature & humidity using a monitor
Use a netipot to aid dry sinuses
Use a sunlight lamp & run it all day to combat SAD
Optimize diet, vitamins, fish oil & other misc items

We’re fast approaching December here in Chicago & for the first time since 1992, I am not dreading it.

Here are a few tools that have helped me the most to handle the whims of Ms. Winter.

Temperature: Right Combo

This is obvious. Turn up the heat to your comfort.

I live in a small apartment, so there is one main heating vent – on the opposite corner from my bedroom.

I use a combination of that (set to around 68-70d) + a rotating personal heater right by my bed. This sets my apartment on the cool side, which I prefer most of the day.

When I’m about to go to bed & it’s too cold, I’ll turn on my personal heater for a timer setting of 30m to 1hr.

– I’m not overheating whole apartment: wasting heat + money by running main heater all the time.
– I don’t get too hot during sleep.


I was waking up dry mouthed & super dry nose every morning.

It was unbearable. I thought I had some type of ear or nose infection. Turned out I had allergies but the nurse also told me to try steaming my face. Steaming helped a lot.

That triggered the idea to humidify my apt.

I use a vicks double barrel humidifier. It works pretty well & has high ratings. I wish it produced more steam.

I keep in near by bed. It makes a light gurgling sound which doesn’t bother me much. It has a bright blue light which is super annoying at night. Solution: cover it w/ dark tape.

Track Humidity & Temperature

humidity monitor

I was flying blind for a while.

My apartment heat unit doesn’t have a digital reading. So even if I set it for 70d, it didn’t feel like it was that temperature. Sometimes it was hotter, sometimes colder.

I was also running my humidifier on high setting 24hrs a day. Sometimes it was dry, sometimes perfect. Other times the air in my room was super humid.

Why don’t I digitally track this? Duh!

I purchased the AcuRite Indoor Humidity Monitor = $9.98.

I set it right by my bed so I know at all times the exact temperature & humidity. No more guesswork.

In summertime, humidity ranges from 35-45%. Which feels great.
During winter, it can drop to 20% or lower. Breathing & sleeping become super difficult.

With my humidifier, I can get the whole humidity in my apartment up to 31%. I’m still trying to figure out a way to bump it up to 35%+.

Dry Sinuses: Netipot

Read in Russell Simmons’ book Super Rich that he uses a Netipot and it healed his lifelong sinus problems.

Now it’s one of my main tools for dry winters.

A netipot is an ayurvedic tool to pour warm salt water thru the nostrils. It’s easier & more comfortable than it sounds.

It hydrates our nose.

Even though I’m Indian, I had no idea this existed. Leave it to an American hip hop legend to teach this immigrant Indian about ayurvedic tools.

Note: Please don’t just use any type of salt. Needs 99.99% USP grade, which comes with the set in the link above. Or buy your own separately. I also use filtered water rather than tap. Try to be as safe as possible since solution is going thru our sinuses.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Sunlamp

I’ve experimented with SAD lightboxes with minimal to zero effects. Plus it’s a hassle to turn it on & sit in front of it for 15-30mins.

This fall, I bought a sunlight lamp & it’s been a miracle. I have it running 100% of the time I’m awake.

Now I’m 0% bothered when it gets dark early outside.

Low Mood/Depression: Fish Oil, VitD, Diet

I’ve talked about this many times, so will keep it brief.

To alter your brain chemistry for the better, especially during winters, look into high dose fish oil & get tested for vitamin d deficiency.

Other obvious things to optimize are making sure you’re eating right + correct amounts of vitamins, water, probiotics, etc.

Try journaling to help with mental turbulence. Maybe a therapist if that’s an option.

If you do all the other things right, some of these items may become unnecessary.

image source (wintery street)

How to share this post:
I wish every site did it this way.
Article title & link in one place. Easy to share!

1. Click the retweet button
2. Or copy & paste msg into your twitter (no need to put my username)