Water offers some of the best soothing home treatments you can do by yourself. It cleans not only our bodies but also our souls, leaving our brains refreshed and ready for new challenges. Warm baths can change your mood, but cool ones are gaining a lot of both popularity and disapproval. Discover below the answer to the question: should you have a cold shower before bed?
Cold bathing has been practiced from Roman times. They are the ones responsible for today’s spas, where you go through a ritual of hot saunas and you finish the treatment with a fast-cold shower. Studies haven’t proved the influence on our bodies, but some trials attest that it can help with colds, circulation, and even energy levels.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used cold water in serious illnesses treatments. The Netherlands’ people are known to practice cold bathing to reset their health and minds in modern times. Cold immersion, like cryogeny, isn’t for everybody. Trials show that cold baths and showers work just as well.
There are many benefits to cold showers, from improving the quality of your sleep and immune system, to work productivity. For example, they have an amazing ability to wake you up, keep away eczemas, and even control depression. Scientists promote washing in the PM because it can help set the body for a good night’s sleep. But you can use both hot and cool baths as part of water therapy; they have different benefits for your health.
Cold Shower vs Hot Shower
Cold showers improve circulation by cooling down the body. Chilly baths help decrease inflammation and swelling, muscle soreness, and fatigue. They also lower cortisol levels if practiced regularly. People with skin issues can also enjoy colder showers, as are those that want their bodies to regenerate cells faster.
Chilly showers are tricksters for the body. When we’re ready to fall asleep, our body temperature drops, it’s natural. When taking a cool shower, you will make your body feel that it is ready to go in sleepy-land sooner.
Hot hydrotherapy treatments improve cardiovascular and brain health, blood flow to joints and muscles. Warm water also reduces muscle soreness and fatigue. Blood vessels widen when exposed to high temperatures and this comforts the body. High temperatures let the brain know that it’s all right to cool down and feel sleepy. They help regulate the circadian rhythm, our inner clock.
One tricks the body, the other one regulates it. These showers help with sleep quality during the night, but also its length, efficiency, and how long it takes to fall asleep.
A 2019 study shows that the best time to take a shower is 1-2 hours before going to sleep, so the earthly vessel has time to respond to the stimuli.
Cold-water immersion triggers the body’s natural healing abilities and creates a wave of alertness if you’re feeling tired. But this is usually followed by a period of relaxation as the body cools and warms back up. Depending on your body, you need to test out both cold and hot showers to see which one works best for you.
The Pros and Cons of Cold Showers
Both extremes have side effects. Icy baths have a tendency to increase metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure. Let’s take metabolism for example. Cold showers raise your metabolic rate and you will burn more calories to help the body stay warm. This, in time, will help you control your weight.
Freezing showers are shocking and they have an effect on levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. This is why they can also help with depression, by triggering mood-boosting hormones that will leave you energized and in control. When you’re feeling low and nothing is going your way, take a cold shower and witness the surprising effects on your body and spirit.
The length of both cold and hot showers is also relevant. It is not recommended you have long water treatments, especially if you have a heart condition.
If you’re taking a bath instead of a shower, make sure you elevate your heart above the water to avoid heart irregularities. Long sessions dry out the skin, dehydrate the body, and they can even lead to decreased consciousness.
Ice water helps the vessels of the lymphatic system to contract and to start pumping fluid. This is another way to cleanse the body and feel refreshed. They are also great if you’re always feeling icy. Practiced daily and doing it gradually from hot, to warm, to chilly, to cold, you can reset your body’s temperature.
Taking all these into consideration, playing with hot and cold showers, especially in public places, can lead to UTIs and ear infections. Some trail participants also announced muscle aches, insomnia, and the never-ending cold sensation in their bodies. These are controlled experiences, but it is important to know that each body is unique and some just don’t respond the same.
Baby Steps into Cold Showers
Wim Hof is known as “The Iceman”. He is a Dutch athlete with an amazing ability to experience low temperatures. He has set Guinness World Records, run marathons, and conquered Mount Everest in shorts. He is also known for The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential.
His secret is learning to breathe and having the right mindset but also experiencing cold safely. He recommends you do everything in time, controlled, to awaken the body’s untapped strength and become a better version of yourself.
A few years ago, he launched the #20DayColdShowerChallenge on Instagram. His method isn’t as extreme as his life experiences. He recommends you start with a warm shower and end with only a few seconds of freezing water. Then, you can build to ending your bath with a minute of cold water.
There have been many participants in this challenge and you can find amazing life stories for inspiration. One woman said that after 30 days of cold showers her hair and skin had changed, they were shinier. She mentioned that her immune system was better, she was more relaxed and motivated to workout. She also added that her sex-drive increased. Some studies do show that freezing immersions help with fertility and especially with testosterone levels.
Should You Take a Cold Shower Before Bed?
The jury is out because it depends on your body. Freezing showers are amazing, you’ve discovered the benefits, especially in healthy adults that took fewer sick days from work, but your body is unique. Take it slow, lukewarm water for short periods of time to test it out first. Do you feel energized, but then your body slows down? Do you feel cold followed by a period of relaxation?
If you’re not ready to take the plunge, remember the chilly feeling before entering a pool or sea. It’s icy at first, but your body warms up and your skin gets used to the cold. You can even dip your toes in a bowl with ice to see how your body reacts and get your mind used to it. To make this experience more pleasant, you can even add some essential oils in your bath. Lavender, ylang-ylang, and sandalwood are great for relaxing.
Even if it’s repetitive, it’s important to take it slow, start and finish with warm water, and even pair it with music or podcasts. It’s also essential that you don’t do it with a full belly because your body will be busy with digestion. Start with your hands, face, and neck as these areas are used to cold water. Then, lower to your feet and continue with the rest of your body.
The instant sensation that you will get is “I need to get out of here” or “get it off, get it off!” It is absolutely normal, but remember that you are in control. You can overcome limitations if this is what you really want. It’s like when trainers tell you at the gym when you feel you can’t do any more repetitions, that’s when you can do some more.
One last thing about cold showers is the power they give you over your body. This is one of those situations where you’re going to be with yourself, no external thoughts. You’ll feel present and in tune with your body. Living in the moment with a cold shower is a unique sensation that some have compared to the exhilarating feeling during a plane jump.
With gadgets taking over our lives, it’s great to be reminded of the amazing abilities of our bodies to adjust to new environments. This is a unique type of meditation that will prove your emotions and body sensations are not your reality. You are stronger than you think you are…and even cold showers have an ending!