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Showering before bed is a relaxing, pleasurable experience that can help you fall into a deeper, more restful sleep. Your shower helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, known as ‘the natural body clock,’ which is controlled by subtle changes in core body temperature.
Hot and cold showers have numerous health benefits, which lie on opposite ends of the body’s extreme natural reactions. To understand how cold showers affect you before bed, it’s first necessary to understand the differences between hot and cold showers, and how each of these sensations stimulate your natural reflexes.
How do cold showers affect the body?
Cold showers cause a rapid reduction in body temperature, sending your nerves into a state of high alert. This puts the body into overdrive as it tries to warm itself up as quickly as possible. The effect is an increased heart rate, faster metabolism and improved circulation, with a noticeable energy boost and an elevated level of mental awareness.
Cold showers also activate feel-good hormones by stimulating the natural sympathetic immune system, which leaves you feeling invigorated and wide awake.
How do hot showers affect the body?
When you have a hot shower, your body begins the process of rapid self-cooling to restore a median core temperature. Stored heat energy is released, causing muscle tension to ease and soften.
The combination of heat and steam opens pores, releasing toxins to boost healing. Hot showers encourage relaxation, which can relieve symptoms of headaches and anxiety for the promotion of better sleep.
How does core body temperature affect sleep?
The circadian rhythm controls the energy levels in the body by raising or lowering the core body temperature. To reach the perfect sleep, your core body temperature should be lowered by approximately one degree.
A cold shower will certainly reduce the body temperature faster than any natural body process, however, the knock-on effect of taking a cold shower is activating the body’s inherent reflex to raise the core temperature back to normal.
A hot shower before bed will increase your core temperature, but this is followed by a rapid cooling which can ultimately lower your core temperature around 60 to 90 minutes after showering.
The ideal balance creates a gradual cooling effect, whereby you lower your normal body temperature without veering to the extremes. To achieve this, it’s best to have a lukewarm shower before bed, using warm water that leans towards the cooler side of the spectrum.
Why you should enjoy a cool shower or bath before bed
Lukewarm showers or baths strike a perfect equilibrium, allowing you to reap all the benefits of both hot and cold showers, without overstimulating your circadian rhythm. By lowering your existing core body temperature, rather than triggering an extreme response to hot or cold showers, your body can achieve the right temperature for sleep, naturally.
Showering in cool water activates your immune system to support continuous healing, and taps into your sympathetic immune system to reap the biological anti-depressant benefits of releasing mood-enhancing hormones into the blood stream.
Taking the edge off an iced-cold shower helps the body to relax, which reduces anxiety and soothes tired muscles. This slows the heart rate, releases unwanted tension and heightens feelings of comfort and rest.
When it comes to sleep quality, cold showers are best kept for the mornings. Starting your day with an invigorating cold shower has long-lasting benefits to improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Likewise, hot showers are perfect to ease sore muscles and recover from exercise.
To encourage deep, restful sleep it’s best to enjoy a cool shower or lukewarm bath before bed.
WholyMe has developed the perfect addition to your bath routine!
WholyMe formulated Recovery Relief Salts, which combines Epsom Salts with Arnica, Eucalyptus, Frankincense and Hemp seed oil, the combination of ingredients is ideal to relax and help your body recover from your daily stresses and aches.
Adding two to three hand fulls to your lukewarm night time bath will contribute to a restful sleep.