Cold Shower Before Bed: Will It Help Me Sleep?
Is taking a shower part of your before-bed routine? You're not alone. In fact, researchers celebrate this habit for helping regulate body temperature, stimulate blood flow, and get you to sleep faster. But a cold shower before bed? Well, that move isn't quite as popular. And researchers have had a hard time providing it to be quite as beneficial as taking a hot shower before bed. So, why would someone choose to take a cold shower before hitting the sack? Read on below to find out.
Benefits of Showering Before Bed
Incorporating a shower into your bedtime routine provides a few different benefits. For one, it helps you establish a routine, which can contribute to a more consistent sleep pattern. If you take a shower every night before winding down, your brain will eventually start to interpret that action as a signal to sleep.
There's also the more obvious benefit of getting you clean and comfortable before crawling into bed. This helps reduce the buildup of sweat, dirt, body oils, and dead skin on your bedding.
The list of benefits goes on, though most of the specifics are associated with temperature. Read on to learn more about the unique benefits both hot and cold showers provide.
Effects of Cold Showers on Sleep
Cold showers are typically associated with extreme external temperatures and problems with your pipes. Less often is it introduced as part of a bedtime routine. Still, it does happen. Check out the list to learn more about how cold showers can improve sleep.
Though the idea of a cold shower may stress you out, it might actually do more good than you think. Research suggests that taking cold showers may improve your mood by reducing your cortisol levels, the hormone related to stress.
Soothes tired muscles
Ice baths aren't just an old wives' tale. This activity remains a staple activity among athletes who use cold water to soothe sore muscles after a game. A 2015 research found that taking a cold shower after exercise may also decrease heart rate more quickly. Participants found that cold showers actually helped them feel more comfortable.
Helps your body relax
A cold shower can boost your mood, which is why it's often recommended as a morning activity in order to help you be refreshed and energetic for the rest of the day. However, it may also help you at night because cold showers tend to increase your endorphins or feel-good hormones. And going to bed in a good mood typically makes it easier to fall asleep.
Helps boost your immune system
Cold showers have great benefits to your overall health. Studies have shown that exposure to cold showers actually decreases the number of sick days taken over the course of a year. The reasons vary, but one of the leading theories revolves around boosting your metabolism. Another way taking a cold shower can benefit your health is by helping improve your blood circulation and helping your body fight off certain illnesses.
Effects of Hot Showers Before Sleep
We all love a hot shower. Listed below, we detail a few reasons why we might want to indulge that aren't related to getting cozy, and comfortable.
Core body temperature refers to your internal body temperature, and it has a pretty big influence on when you fall asleep. Our body temperature hovers around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit during the day but fluctuates by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the night. This drop in temperature begins about two hours before we go to bed and coincides with the release of melatonin, or the sleep hormone. Essential, hot showers can help initiate the process, which is great if you want to call it a day early.
Improves sleep quality
Research suggests that taking warm showers is associated with improved sleep quality. This may be because warm water stimulates blood flow to the hands and feet, which allows body heat to escape more quickly, and helps improve your sleep. You can take a hot shower one to two hours before bed for the best results.
Helps you fall asleep faster
People with insomnia often complain about not being able to sleep fast enough; tossing and turning for hours on end. But taking a hot shower may remedy the issue. That's because hot showers can quickly warm up the body. Walking out into the cooler air mimics the same kind of temperature fluctuation that naturally takes place in the body before sleep.
Lowers blood pressure
According to 2019 research, taking a warm shower may also improve heart health. In this research, it was found that a hot bath may help lower blood pressure among the elderly especially when taken an hour before bedtime. Remember, blood pressure is normally lower at night when you are sleeping.
What's Better: A Hot Shower or Cold Shower Before Bed?
So, what's the best before bed, taking a cold shower at night, or a hot one instead? The answer isn't crystal clear. Each option carries its own unique benefits. At the same time, cold showers do have a tendency to raise alertness, which isn't exactly the best idea before going to sleep.
Individual factors also come into play. If you're sore from exercise or a physically demanding work regime, a cold shower may be your best bet. This will help soothe your muscles and help you get comfortable in bed. Meanwhile, a hot shower may help you fall asleep a little faster, which is great if you have an early morning ahead.
There's also the happy middle ground to consider. A lot of experts actually suggest sticking to lukewarm water. Taking a warm shower or bath is a good way to avoid changes in blood pressure that hot showers typically introduce. It's also a good way to avoid the level of alertness cold showers often inspire.
Bedtime routines can be pretty specific. If you're thinking of adding a shower to the list, then temperature is definitely something you should consider. While both hot and cold showers introduce their own unique benefits, the best way to decide is by experimenting with what works best for you.
If you've started showering before bed to fall asleep faster and are unsatisfied with the results, it may be time to try out some other alternatives.
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Showering before bed can help you get to bed earlier by sending signals to your brain that it's time to sleep. It's also a good way to be sure you're going to bed clean and free from the buildup of sweat, dirt, and body oils. Other benefits, including temperature regulation and stress reduction, largely depend on the temperature of the water.
A cold shower may be helpful in making you comfortable for bed especially if you live in warmer climates. They can also help soothe sore muscles and reduce stress. However, cold showers can also cause a rapid reduction in body temperature which can send your body into a state of high alert. This can lead to increased heart rate and elevated mental awareness. With that, you may want to leave the very cold (or very hot) showers for the morning and stick to lukewarm water instead.