Few things affect our health and well-being as much as sleep. So it’s no surprise that many of us are looking for ways to get better sleep.
Can cold plunges be the answer?
While it might seem surprising, there is evidence that taking ice baths can have a positive effect on your sleep.
Do ice baths affect sleep?
Research suggests taking ice baths can improve sleep.
One study found a group of swimmers who practiced five minutes of cold water immersion after their workouts reported better sleep. Researchers theorize that this is because exercise can cause an increase in how active the sympathetic nervous is (fight or flight response) and a decrease in parasympathetic nervous system activity (which relaxes your body). Cold water immersion re-activates the parasympathetic system.
Another study measured the sleep quality of a group of runners who practiced cold water immersion after a workout. The runners who had full-body cold exposure had more slow-wave sleep in the first three hours of sleep, woke up less throughout the night and had reduced limb movements all night long.
Can I take an ice bath before bed?
Taking an ice bath before bed is probably not going to help your sleep. We recommend timing your ice bath at least 1-2 hours before the time you want to go to sleep.
Many people find that taking an ice bath boosts their alertness and energy, which is a valuable benefit earlier in the day but not ideal right before bedtime.
With that in mind, everybody is different. Try experimenting with the timing of your ice bath and keep track of your energy levels and sleep quality.
A journal that you use to log the time and temperature of your ice baths and the duration and quality of your sleep is a simple way to do this. You could also use a wearable device that helps measure your sleep.
Items you might want to include in your journal:
- Duration and temperature of your ice bath
- Your mood before and after
- Timing (when you took the ice bath)
- Duration and quality of sleep
- Energy levels in the morning and throughout the day
And remember, practicing cold therapy consistently will yield the most benefit, so try to build a routine that you can stick to and build your progress over time.
Jun 16, 2023
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