4 Proven Ways a Cold Shower Before Bed Will Improve Your Sleep
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Cold showers are great for waking you up and getting you ready for the day. But what about after? Research shows that cold showers can affect how well you sleep.
The theory is that a cold shower reduces the body’s core temperature, decreasing brain activity and inducing a deep sleep state. Cold showers can also help you relax after a long day or just need some emotional clearing.
Whatever your reasons for taking one, it could be worth considering adding them to your bedtime routine.
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How Cold Showers Improve Sleep
Core body temperature plays a huge role in our ability to sleep. When we get into bed, our bodies start producing heat – this is called “homeostasis“.
We experience a decrease in body temperature around the time we naturally feel tired, like right before bedtime. However, if the temperature in your bedroom at night is too high, the process of homeostasis becomes disrupted, our core body temperatures will stay high, and we will not feel tired. During this phase, a cold shower causes our core temperature to fall, allowing us to have a more restful sleep.
If the idea of ice-cold shower sends shivers down your spine, fear not: a lukewarm shower will still do the trick. The shower temperature doesn’t have to be so cold that you feel uncomfortable, just enough to cause a slight adjustment in body temperature.
We all know how difficult it is to sleep when you’re stressed out or anxious. Our stress level is caused by the hormone cortisol, known as the ‘fight or flight hormone’, which increases anxiety and negative emotions.
A cold shower is a great way to get rid of tension and relieve stress. When you immerse yourself in cold water, you trigger your ‘flight or fight’ response by increasing the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones like norepinephrine and adrenaline.
This may sound counterintuitive, but the end result is that once the stress hormone levels in your body have been released, they will subsequently decrease, leaving you more relaxed and ready for bed.
This basically works by allowing your brain to react to the stressful survival situations it was designed for instead of attaching meaning to the mundane everyday events of modern life.
Taking a cold shower has been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and increase relaxation. The act of immersing oneself in cold water induces feelings of calmness and tranquillity by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for releasing endorphins, which help produce feelings of relaxation and well-being.
Coldwater triggers this by stimulating the vagus nerve, which regulates heart rate and breathing, reduces body temperature, and increases blood flow to the skin, producing an overall feeling of relaxation.
If you’ve had a stressful day, sometimes it’s hard to let go of your emotions and relax enough to fall asleep. Taking a cold shower before bed can help you clear out all your feelings and leave you feeling more relaxed, grounded and in the moment.
Having a small moment of clarity and objectivity can be super helpful if you’re going through some difficult emotions and need to get out of your head for a bit.
Best Way to Take a Cold Shower Before Bed
If you are new to taking cold showers, then you might feel a little overwhelmed with the idea of jumping under freezing cold water. But don’t worry, you can take the process gradually.
Start by taking a shower at your normal warmth and slowly decrease the temperature every few seconds until you can handle the lowest temperature possible. If you feel any discomfort or pain, turn the temperature back up gradually until you can tolerate it again.
Once you are able to handle the lowest temperature possible, keep showering at that temperature until you are comfortable with it.
Remember to stay calm and breathe normally during your shower. Your adrenaline may be pumping, but try to ignore it and distract yourself by focusing on your breathing or counting backwards from 10.
- Lowering your core temperature before bed reduces cortisol levels and improves sleep quality.
- Showers before bed can be a relaxing addition to your nightly routine.
- A cold shower at night can relieve sore muscles and open blood vessels to improve blood circulation.
- A cool shower can still help your body reach the optimum temperature for sleep if you can’t handle the cold water late at night.
MindEasy founder & meditation teacher
Griff Williams is an accredited meditation teacher and founder of MindEasy. He spent 12 years working as a London firefighter before changing paths to pursue building MindEasy. He received his diploma in meditation teaching from The British School of Meditation.