How does a Cold Shower Affect your Sleep?
Having a cold bath is not the best experience. However, when the hot water isn’t running, one has few options available including having the much dreaded cold bath — especially on a cold morning or freestyle night when you need to shower.
There have talks about cold baths impacting the quality of sleep and many people are curious to know if there is any truth to such claims — or is it one of those baseless claims or heresies?
How does a cold shower affect your sleep?
Dating back to ancient Romans, cold bathing has been believed to invigorate the body. Thankfully, today one can get a blast of cold water at the push of a button. Over the years, a lot of health benefits have been attributed to cold water shower and they include:
- Increased immunity
- Improved blood circulation
- Improved metabolism
- Increase in endorphins production
Before we discuss the health benefits of cold showers, let’s take a second to understand what a cold shower is and build our way up from there.
What is a cold shower?
While this may cut across as a ridiculous question, it is a valid one and it will prevent some people from going overboard by showering with freezing waters.
Having your bath or shower with water that is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a cold shower and is said to have health benefits (which we will discuss further in later parts of this article).
Over the years, hydrotherapy (popularly known as water therapy) has been used to make the body adapt to harsh environmental conditions. As such, making the human body more resistant to stress.
- Coldwater showers make you feel water awake and at alert
Research findings show that indicate that cold showers cause the body to activate the sympathetic nervous system. As such, causing the body to release hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine.
The norepinephrine hormone triggers body reaction that helps the body redistribute the flow of blood to keep the body warm. On the other hand, the body releases cortisol at different times of the day, with the highest levels recorded in the morning, around 9 a.m and the lowest at midnight.
Increased level of cortisol at night results in poor sleep. Recent research has shown that exposing the body to cold leads to increased production of cortisol and that means taking a cold bath will keep you awake and alert at night.
- A cold shower may boost the immune system
You have probably been wondering what the connection between a cold shower and immune system is?
Researchers did engage 3,000 participants in a study and they shared the participants into four groups. One group were made to bath with warm water while the other three had hot baths with a blast of cold water for 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds at the end of their shower.
After 30 days, it was found that the groups that had blasts of cold water had called in sick 24% less than the group that bathed with only hot water. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that the cold may have reduced the intensity of symptoms in the participants and could be the reason why they called in sick less.
- Cold bath soothes sore muscles
It’s no news that athletes use ice baths to soothe sore muscles after training and events. It may interest you to know that cold showers affect people differently. To drive this long home, a 2015 research showed that a cold bath can decrease heart rate quickly. In the research, high-intensity cyclists were shares into two groups.
One group was asked to take a 1 to 3 minutes cold shower while the other group was asked to skip the bath.
At the end of the study, the researchers noticed a quick decrease in the heart rate of those who had a cold bath compared to their counterparts who did not take a cold bath. As we mentioned earlier, other benefits of having a cold shower include increased endorphins production and improved metabolism.
Having mentioned that here is a quick rundown of how a hot bath can affect your body and sleep.
- It improves sleep quality
- Hot baths lower blood pressure at bedtime, and
- A hot bath helps you fall asleep faster.
While bathing with either cold water or hot water doesn’t have any side effects, it’s advised that bathing time should be kept within 10 minutes. Why? Prolonged shower time can result in dry skin and can cause irritations.