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Should You Take a Cold Shower Before Bed?

Are you one of those people who cringe when someone recommends a cold shower before bed? Because whether you like or not, you will be surprised to find out that a cold shower just before hitting the hay brings about a multitude of benefits to both your physical and mental health.

Having trouble falling asleep? Suffering from anxiety or depression and medications aren’t helping? Have poor immune responses to most viral infections? Want radiant and glowing skin with shiny hair? A cold bath is your answer to all of these problems and many more!

Do Cold Showers Make You Sleep Better?

Cold showers have been associated with a night of peaceful sleep since ancient times. The significance of a cold shower in regulating your body’s circadian rhythm makes sleep come more naturally to you at night.

Your body’s circadian rhythm is in general an internal clock that dictates your sleeping patterns in addition to allowing your body to stay alert and awake. When your body temperature drops, it is time for you to hit the hay. A cold shower before bed will of course help reduce your body temperature and help you sleep better. There is however more to this theory.

What a cold shower will do is initially make you alert with the sudden jab of cold. However, your body needs to keep your internal organs safe and warm. When exposed to cold water your body will therefore move blood from your skin to your internal organs by constricting your blood vessels, to generate and conserve enough warmth.

This vasoconstriction has a rather relaxing effect on your body and signals your brain to make your body enter the sleep zone. Since you need to give your body enough time to reach this relaxing zone after a period of alertness, it’s best if you shower cold a few hours before you intend to sleep.

girl taking cold shower before bed

Benefits of a Cold Shower Before Bed

You might have heard about the benefits of taking a bath before you sleep; the advantages of a cold bath in particular however come as a surprise to many. The practice of taking cold baths has existed ever since Roman times, where it was particularly used for medicinal purposes. It, therefore, goes without saying that taking a cold bedtime shower brings along a series of benefits to one’s mental and physical health alike.

Whether it is simply a rejuvenating sleep, or a series of physical health improvements that you are seeking, a cold bath before heading to bed at night will prove worthwhile. Let’s find out how!

Better Quality of Sleep

The slight drop in your core body temperature, as dictated by its circadian rhythm, is responsible for inducing sleep at night. A cold shower before hitting the bed simply speeds up this temperature dropping process and enables you to fall asleep faster and sleep better and more comfortably during the night.

Taking a cold shower will initially make you alert and increase your focus. So here comes the question; if a cold shower makes you less drowsy, how is it ever going to aid your slumber let alone improve the quality of your sleep?

The answer is fairly simple. When your core body temperature rises slightly after a cold shower, your blood vessels constrict to conserve warmth for your organs and so allows you to reach a comfortable sleeping position within a little while. A shower with cold water just a few hours before sleeping, therefore, tends to relax your body and delivers a highly soothing effect, which in turn makes the quality of your sleep better.

Moreover, a rejuvenating, cold bath relieves your body of the toxins, allergens, and bacteria you have been collecting all day. You, therefore, don’t experience itchy skin or allergic reactions, thereby ensuring a peaceful and undisturbed sleep throughout the night.

Improved Immune System

The most apparently-bizarre thing you would ever listen to is that a cold shower before bed prevents you from catching a cold. It is however factually proven to be true!

As discussed earlier, taking a cold bath puts your body in a frenzy. Your organs are vital to ensure your body’s proper functioning and therefore are to be protected at all costs. To keep them warm and unfazed by the cold bath, your blood vessels deliver adequate warmth to the internal organs. Simultaneously, your body’s metabolic rate increases in an attempt to generate more heat.

As your body starts warming up, your immune system is triggered to produce more white blood cells. These white blood cells are responsible for fighting off viruses and bacteria in your body, thus preventing you from catching infections. Taking a cold bath therefore improves your immune system and makes your immune response stronger against external adversities.

Faster Metabolism

For all the fitness freaks out there, losing weight is as simple as taking a cold bath everyday!

It works in the same manner as a faster immune response does. To keep the internal organs warm after you have showered with cold water, your body increases its metabolism. This it does by increasing the production of brown fat cells. These cells actively burn more energy than most other cells and therefore significantly increase the body’s metabolism.

The higher the metabolic rate, the more warmth your body is going to produce, which is ultimately used to raise your body temperature and help you combat the icy shock. A faster metabolism helps burn more calories, thus taking a cold shower before you fall asleep an ideal choice for those struggling to stay in shape.

Skin Tightening

Where a warm shower would open up your skin’s pores and flush out the toxins and allergens accumulating on your face, a cold shower on the contrary does exactly the opposite.

As soon as you plunge into icy-cold water, the immediate effect within your body is vasco-constriction. Your blood vessels constrict to bear the icy cold shock and your skin’s pores close for a brief while. These constricted pores in turn tighten your skin and also prevent the natural oils on your skin from being flushed out. Skin tightening tends to reduce puffiness and swelling, thus giving your skin a rather refreshed and composed look.

A little while after the cold shower, your lymphatic vessels contract to allow more fluid to pass through them. This enhanced blood flow in turn lends your skin a natural glow and radiance and leaves your skin rather soft to touch.

Hair Loss Reduction

girl worried about hair loss

It is a known fact that bathing with hot water is linked with an enhanced probability of hair loss. This is primarily because of the ability of very hot water to cause stress to your hair tresses, resulting in weaker and brittle hair. A cold shower on the other hand brings about multiple advantages for your hair growth. Since cold water does not cause stress to your tresses, it manages to control the frizz on your hair and prevents it from weakening.

When your blood vessels constrict from the shock brought about by icy cold water, the pores on your scalp close. These closed pores lock the natural oils and moisture within your hair and prevent them from flushing out while you shower. This keeps your hair more manageable and extra soft.

Moreover, cold water also closes the hair cuticles. These closed cuticles are smoother to touch, and additionally, reflect light to give a healthy shine to your hair. Since most of the pores on your scalp are closed, your hair, therefore, remains cleaner for long by being less exposed to grease and dirt.

Additionally, the constriction of your lymphatic vessels to allow more blood to pass through them towards the body core improves your overall blood circulation. This enhanced blood flow, therefore, allows vital nutrients to reach the hair, roots, and scalp, thereby aiding in hair growth. So, if you too want long and shiny hair from those shampoo commercials, don’t forget to take a cold shower before you sleep!

Stimulates Anti-Depression Hormones

Water therapy has been used since ancient times to help your body acclimate to harsher conditions and relieve stress. It has been proven through clinical trials that showering with cold water up to five minutes, twice or thrice weekly can help your body in becoming more resistant to stress and depression.

Icy-cold water shocks your body and causes you to become more alert. It acts as an electroshock therapy that tends to send electrical impulses to your brain, prompting it to increase your energy levels.

These electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings tend to release endorphins, which are popularly known as the happy hormones of your body. These hormones are associated with generating feelings of overall well-being to have a rather anti-depressive and optimistic effect.

Moreover, a rejuvenating cold water bath has also been associated with causing a decrease in the amount of stress-generating hormone, cortisol, in most individuals. Say goodbye to depression and anxiety without taking medications, by following this simple routine.

Cold Shower vs. Hot Shower

Both cold and hot showers bring about their own unique set of health benefits that you should be aware of. Each of the two works better in certain circumstances, knowing about which can help you decide when to bathe with each water temperature.

It is fairly natural for you to dread putting cold water over your skin. Icy cold water sends a jolt of electrical impulses all over your body, putting you in a frenzy. If you have been struggling to build up your focus to get work done, you would find yourself fairly alert following a cold bath. Similarly, a cold shower also tends to calm itchy skin and reduce puffiness by clearing your skin of toxins and bacteria.

With a cold water bath routine, you notice a pronounced difference in your hair, which tends to get shinier and stronger by day. Not only that, but you would also find your skin more radiant than before. This is made possible through the improved blood circulation caused by a cold shower. A boost in the metabolic rate of your body in turn also aids you in your weight loss journey.

While a cold shower makes you alert, a hot one makes you tired instead. Hot water on your body tends to relax your muscles, which is why a hot shower can be used to recover your muscles after a tiring workout routine.

For the most part, hot showers are practically the best way to relieve symptoms of respiratory problems. So if you are looking to clear a stuffy nose, a warm shower should be your go-to option. The steam from a warm shower opens up your airways and makes it easier to unclog your nasal passages. Similarly, a hot bath also opens up your pores, which essentially helps you cleanse your skin of oil and dirt trapped within.

Hot showers are associated with improved cardiovascular health along with better functioning of your muscles and joints. This is in part due to an improvement in your blood flow throughout the body, caused by a hot shower. If that wasn’t all, hot showers also tend to improve your brain health by promoting the survival, growth, and maturation of your nerve cells.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I take a shower before bed?

Taking a shower before you hit the bed is ideal for a fitful sleep. During the shower, your core body temperature slightly increases, however as soon as you step out, the water evaporates to leave a slight cooling effect. Since your body depends on this cooling effect in order to release melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, therefore, you are able to sleep better after a shower.

However, the water temperature at which you take your bath depends a lot on the time that you are bathing. If you still have a few hours yet to sleep, a cold bath might work best for you. You will experience a brief period of alertness, followed by gradual tiredness that helps you sleep better as you finally lay down to sleep.

Similarly, a hot shower energizes you at first and delays your sleep by slowing the cool down process your circadian rhythm is associated with. A lukewarm shower, on the other hand, 60-90 minutes before going to sleep, works ideally to increase the quality of your sleep.

Is it bad to sleep with wet hair?

It isn’t exactly the worst thing you can ever do to your hair. Sleeping with wet hair should nonetheless be avoided for several reasons. First of all, since your hair generally is weak when wet, so the chances of it breaking as you toss and turn during the night are drastically increased. Moreover, sleeping with wet hair can cause you to catch a cold, and the shivers can make you uncomfortable during the night.

That however is not all! Wet hair tends to make your hair look dull. This is because the moisture from your body gets absorbed into the pillow fabric and takes away the natural oils as well. This prolonged dampness and dehydration will result in dandruff while allowing bacterial growth on your scalp.

When wet hair dries up, they set into the twists and strange angles they have been exposed to as you slept. Styling your hair would therefore become a nuisance as you wake up in the morning!

Why do the Japanese take baths at night?

Japanese night baths date back to their mythological books, where a night shower under celestial maidens was seen to be a rather spiritual act. There are however more reasons for it than simply this.

Japanese have strict values regarding cleanliness and purity. However, since they are also extremely punctual and can’t waste time while showering in the morning to get to work, they do so at night. After a long and tiring day at work, a rejuvenating and relaxing bath tends to release their bodily tension, to help them sleep better.

Based on the Japanese culture’s obsession with purity, they have made public bathing more of a social norm. It is a night time that a family would gather at an onsen (public bath) and talk about their day at work, as they relax themselves to go to sleep later.

Dr. Luke Sandoval
Dr. Luke Sandoval is a certified and licensed sleep consultant dealing with a variety of sleep disorders. His expertise expands to management of patients suffering from sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, restlessness, and performance related consequences of sleep problems. Dr. Sandoval’s research acutely focuses on connections between sleep patterns and individual health which examines nutrition and its underlying impact on sleeping habits. He is a frequently sought expert on the psychological and physical impact of sleep disorders and has several accolades to his name.
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