Many people love taking a hot shower before bed because it’s relaxing. But what about cold plunging before bed? In general, we know that cold plunging has tremendous health benefits. Let’s look at a few pros and cons of cold therapy before bed as its related to your quality of sleep.
Lowered Body Temperature
When you take a cold shower or spend a few minutes in your cold plunge, your body’s temperature will dramatically decrease. As a result, your body will release chemicals—such as melatonin—which researchers believe induces sleep.
However, melatonin only responds to sharp decreases in your core body temperature. That’s why cold therapy before bed might be useful.
Cold Therapy Can Promote Alertness
The last thing you want before bed is a rush of alertness. Cold therapy may cause a spike in your survival hormones: cortisol and norepinephrine. These are also stress hormones, which our bodies use to increase alertness and boost energy.
However, there’s little research to prove cold therapy disrupts our sleep. Plus, if you time your cold plunge or shower 1-2 hours before bed, you’ll be in good shape.
Cold Isn’t Exactly Relaxing…
Cold therapy before bed isn’t relaxing. There, I said it. Although feeling your body warm up after a cold shower can create feelings of relaxation, the initial cold can be highly stressful if you’ve not conditioned yourself to cold water.
Tips For Cold Therapy Before Bed
Although temperatures are crucial for your sleep quality, consider the time of your plunge or shower. Some people love jumping in the shower then falling straight into bed. However, the best time for cold therapy before bed is 1-2 hours before sleeping.
Your body needs time to respond to the new stimulus. If you go to bed straight after a cold shower, your body’s thermostat is unlikely to be at the core temperature that’s ideal for sleep. If you wait 1-2 hours, your body’s temperature should be in a great spot for sleep.
Keep Your Bedroom Cold
Once you’ve jumped out of a cold shower, you’ll want to feel warm. That’s normal. However, the best predictor of quality sleep is keeping the room temperature between 60-66 degrees if possible.
Studies have shown temperatures outside of this range, which are common when you don’t have AC running, can lead people to become restless and energetic. As a result, the quality of their sleep suffers. This goes back to body temperature needing to typically be lower for quality sleep.
Your Cold Plunge or Shower Doesn’t Need To Be Long
So you’ve decided to take a cold shower or cold plunge before bed? You’ll be happy to know it doesn’t need to be a long. Just 2 minutes in a cold plunge will decrease your body temperature enough to reap the benefits for sleep and all of the other great benefits.
Cold therapy before bed is worth a shot to put your body in a sleep-ready state, as long as you give it enough time before actually going to bed. Start with a short cold plunge or cold shower this week and see how your body responds.
If you're curious which is better in general for health benefits, here's a look at cold showers vs. ice baths.