Thousands of years ago, people have discovered that different water temperatures affect their health differently. Ever since then, hydrotherapy using hot or cold water is practiced all around the world for different benefits.
However, the everlasting question remains; which is better, hot showers or cold showers? In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at the benefits of both, hot and cold showers and see which is truly better for you. So, let’s get started!
Hot Shower Benefits
Hot showers are generally associated with muscle relaxation, sleep improvement, and general well-being. They are also associated with colder months as a means to get warmer and cozier in the morning or before bedtime. But, what are the real benefits of a hot shower? Let’s take a look!
Sleep Improvement And Sleep/Wake Cycle Regulation
Studies show that people who take hot showers, especially in the evening or before bedtime, tend to fall asleep faster than those who take cold showers or don’t shower at all. It is generally recommended that people who are stressed, or experience sleep disturbances take hot showers to regulate their sleep/wake cycle. Hot showers tend to make you more sleepy and can give that cozy feeling as if you’re already tucked in the bed.
But, how can taking a hot shower help you fall asleep? Well, the answer lies in the fact that our circadian rhythm relies on the body temperature to know whether it is time for sleep or not. For example, with people who have normal sleep cycles, the body naturally cools down before sleep, giving a signal to the brain to start releasing melatonin and induce sleep.
However, in people who experience sleep disturbances, the body temperature doesn’t really give any signals; there is no interaction between the body’s temperature and sleep. So, after a hot shower, the body naturally cools down, helping the brain realize it’s time to go to bed, even though the temperature was adjusted externally, with hot water.Also Read:
Relaxation And Stress Management
Hot showers are known to help with relaxation and stress management after a long day at work. Independent research shows that after taking a hot shower, you feel much better, both physically and mentally. Your emotions calm down, the anxiety levels reduce and you feel the stress going away.
The reason for this lies in the fact that hot showers, or hot water to be precise, helps the body regulate hormones related to stress. So, whether you’re experiencing physical or emotional stress, a hot shower will release the tension and reduce the anxiety in an instant.
Nore: If you want to relax and calm down, it is recommended you take a hot shower before bedtime or after you come back home from work.
We also recommend you try out taking hot baths, which can have even better effects than hot showers.
Nevertheless, both are considered as calming hydrotherapy that will help you fall asleep, recuperate, and recharge for the next day’s challenges.
Hot showers can help with muscle relaxation, but also with muscle damage and injuries. Studies show that immersing your legs, for example, in hot water for 45 minutes before exercise can reduce muscle damage, muscle soreness, muscle contraction, etc.
Moreover, hot water therapy showed incredible results in osteoarthritis patients. Hot water therapy enabled the patients to improve their symptoms, mobility, and reduce pain levels.
Taking a hot shower after a strenuous exercise or a long day at work can also help release tension and soreness in the muscles. It can also relieve pain in case of muscle damage or injury, even hours after the injury or damage occurred. Hot water can also help muscles recover much faster and can prevent short-term muscle atrophy in cases of serious injuries that prevent muscle mobility and movement.
Respiratory Symptoms Improvement
In cases of respiratory difficulties, stuffy nose, sinus issues, upper respiratory infection, and throat phlegm, hot showers are the best. Inhaling hot steam from the evaporating water can help bring relief, improve breathing, clear stuffy nose, and dissolve throat phlegm. It is recommended that people experiencing common cold or flu should take hot showers to relieve overall symptoms and ensure easier breathing.
Cardiovascular Symptoms Improvement
Studies show that hot or warm water can improve blood flow in people with cardiovascular issues or chronic heart failure. The reason for this lies in that the exposure to hot water or hot temperature actually expands and widens the blood vessels. Moreover, exposure to hot water can even help with arterial stiffness, which is responsible for atherosclerosis (cholesterol, calcium, and fat buildup in arteries), and high blood pressure.
Cold Shower Benefits
Cold showers are generally associated with wakefulness and feeling fresh and ready for a new day. That is probably why cold showers are recommended to be taken in the morning, rather than before bedtime. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at some of the major cold shower health benefits!
Immune System Boost and Improvement
Cold showers are known to boost the immune system and build up our body’s resilience to a variety of illnesses and diseases. Studies show that taking regular cold showers (in intervals of 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds) boosts the immune system so much that there is up to 54% absence of sickness compared to people who take hot showers or who don’t take showers at all.
Exposure to cold water can strengthen the body’s response to viruses and bacteria. For example, the aforementioned study took place during the influenza epidemic in 2015, and even with the epidemic, the study participants have seen immune system betterment and overall resistance to influenza, or weaker symptoms even if they did get sick.
Alertness And Wakefulness
It is well known that cold showers have the power to wake you up in a second. Exposure to cold water can wake your body up as well as induce alertness. The reason for this lies in the fact that cold water stimulates you to take deeper and more frequent breaths. This results in a significant decrease of CO2 in the body, which literally clears your mind, sharpens the focuses and goals of the day and promotes concentration.
Mental And Emotional Health Improvement
Cold showers seem to not only make you feel awake and alert but also good about yourself and your life. This means that exposure to cold water can help fight the feeling of depression and anxiety.
Coldwater activates the sympathetic nervous system, which promotes alertness. This results in higher production of adrenaline and endorphins, which are the body’s natural antidepressant. So, every time you take a cold shower your body is fighting off depression and promoting happiness.
Taking a cold shower will also promote stress reduction and promote better handling of stressful situations. It will literally help you keep a cool head every time you feel stressed and anxious.
According to the world’s leading dermatologists, it seems that taking a cold shower can help tighten the skin. This happens because cold constricts blood vessels in the skin. Furthermore, it temporarily tightness the pores and decreases puffiness and redness. Not to mention, cold showers improve circulation, so your skin, especially the face will have a healthy glow.
Taking hot showers will dry out your skin, make it flaky and possibly irritate it, making it itchy. However, a cold shower will do the complete opposite. Coldwater will leave your skin smooth, tight, and hydrated. It won’t cause any irritation, but actually rather it; cold showers can prevent skin conditions like eczema.
Studies show that exposure to cold water (or cold in general) increases the body’s energy and fat-burning ability. Cold showers increase the metabolic rate directly and promote the generation of brown fat.
People usually have white and brown fat; white fat is the standard fat that everybody has; it keeps you warm and accumulates around the body. Brown fat, on the other hand, is a specific type of fat that generates energy by burning calories.
So, because cold showers stimulate the generation of brown fat, they are excellent for people who want to shed some pounds effectively and healthy.
Hot Showers Vs. Cold Showers: More FAQs
When Should I Take A Shower: Morning Or Before Bedtime?
We recommend you take a cold shower in the morning if you want to feel more awake, alert, and concentrated. A cold morning shower will make you feel happy, capable, and ready for the day.
Now, if you want to get a good night’s sleep and alleviate physical and mental tension, we recommend a hot shower before bedtime. This will reduce stress and anxiety and promote sleepiness in an instant.
Nevertheless, you should try both and see which type of showering fits your needs and lifestyle the best. Of course, if you need to work late (or a night shift), you won’t be taking a hot shower at night; the same goes for a cold shower in the morning, if you want to get more sleep or don’t need to go to work.
Which Is The Best Water Temperature For Showering?
Even though both cold and hot showers have their certain health benefits, the best water temperature for showering is the lukewarm one. Lukewarm water (temperature just slightly above your body’s temperature) will give you the best of both worlds.
It will clear a stuffy nose just like a hot shower, but will also be pleasant for the skin and make it more tight and smooth. Lukewarm water is excellent for people with nasal congestion, throat infections, sleeping problems, snoring, allergies as well as sensitive skin.
Hot or Cold Shower After a Workout?
We recommend you take a hot or warm shower after a strenuous workout. Hot water can help relieve muscle tension and relieve any muscle damage or injury.
The water acts as natural muscle relaxation, but it is not recommended to take a hot shower right before bedtime in case of muscle injury.
After the shower, your body will cool down and you’ll be more aware of the pain. It is also recommended to take a hot shower before a workout to prevent any muscle damage, soreness, or injury.
When Should I Take A Shower At Night?
If you want to relieve stress after a long day at work, but you still have to do some stuff around the house or with kids and friends, we recommend you take a lukewarm shower after you get home.
However, at night, we recommend you take a warm or hot shower at least 90 minutes before bedtime. This will allow the body to adjust its temperature, recognize the cooling, and finally begin melatonin production, just in time for bed.
Why Shouldn’t I Take Hot Or Cold Showers?
Showers are just a regular part of our daily routine. Whether you choose to take hot or cold showers is completely up to you and your preferences or needs.
So, to say which is better is rather impossible. Both hot and cold showers have their benefits, and there are situations where one fits and benefits better than the other. So, next time you take a shower, try to experiment with the water temperature and see which one fits you better, hot or cold water.