Ice Bath Before Bed: Will They Help You Sleep?

Everyone who wants to try an ice bath has their own reason or expectations on how it will benefit them. Many people choose cold water therapy as a method of muscle recovery, particularly athletes, but can ice baths also help you sleep?

In this article, we discuss how having an ice-cold bath before sleep can help you enjoy a solid eight hours rest each night. We explore the parasympathetic nervous system, slow wave sleep and much more. Read on to learn more.

Do Ice Baths Before Bed Help Sleep?

Taking ice baths before bed can be hugely beneficial for better sleep, for some individuals. This is because the cold temperature of an ice bath can release melatonin (the hormone that helps with sleep). It will also promote relaxation and reduce inflammation in the body, which may lead to improved sleep quality.

However, it is important to note that individual responses to ice baths may vary, and some people may find it more beneficial than others for helping them sleep or get better quality sleep.

Let’s look further into why a chill tub could be beneficial for sleep, and the science behind why it works for some people…

Reasons Why Ice Baths Before Bed Can Be Beneficial for Sleep

Ice Baths and Melatonin

Melatonin is commonly known as the ‘sleep hormone’, and it does exactly that. Its main function is to regulate the sleep cycle, which means telling the body that it’s time to sleep. 

Ice baths can help with melatonin levels by triggering the body’s natural response to cold stress, which in turn can promote the production of melatonin. When the body is exposed to cold temperatures, it activates the sympathetic nervous system and releases norepinephrine, which can ultimately lead to an increase in melatonin production.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

What is the Parasympathetic Nervous System?

The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the divisions of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions.

How do Ice Baths Help the Parasympathetic Nervous System?

Ice baths can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system due to their ability to trigger what’s known as the “diving reflex” or “cold shock response.” When the body is exposed to cold water, particularly when immersed up to the neck, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated as a protective mechanism to conserve energy and maintain homeostasis.

Studies have shown how ice baths can prevent a decrease in parasympathetic activity, often caused by exercise, and how this has a connection to the quality of your sleep.

Increased Slow-Wave Sleep

What is Slow-Wave Sleep?

Slow-wave sleep is a stage of the sleep cycle. It typically occurs in the early stages of sleep, and is when the body experiences the deepest level of relaxation and restoration.

Do Ice Baths Impact Slow-Wave Sleep?

Studies in recent years have shown that taking an ice/cold bath before bed can actually have a positive impact on slow-wave sleep, also known as deep sleep. Slow-wave sleep is crucial for overall health and cognitive function, as it is during this stage of sleep that the body undergoes repair and rejuvenation.

By reducing body temperature through an ice bath, the body is able to relax and enter into slow-wave sleep more easily. This can lead to improved sleep quality and overall wellbeing.

Tips For Cold Therapy and Sleep

If you’re thinking of trying a cold water bath before sleep to improve your recovery, here are some tips on how to maximise its benefits…

Take a Short Plunge

You may be glad to know you don’t need to take a long ice bath to feel the benefits to your sleep pattern. In fact, exposing your body to cold water for just a couple of minutes should be enough to decrease your body temperature enough to enhance your sleep.

Ensure Your Bedroom is Cold

One thing many ice bath users overlook is the temperature of their room after they’ve taken a cold plunge.

Taking an ice bath and then settling down for bed in a warm room may prevent the ice bath from having a positive effect on your sleep.

The ideal room temperature for sleeping in is 15-20°C, so try not to exceed this temperature if possible.

Think About Timing

You may have to experiment to see what works best for you, but generally taking a dip in an ice bath 1–2 hours before bed is much more beneficial than taking one immediately before bed. Let’s look into this further…

How Long Before Bed Should I Take an Ice Bath?

When considering how long before bed to take an ice bath for optimal sleep benefits, it’s essential to understand the effects of exposure to cold temperatures on your body.

While cold exposure can indeed invigorate you and make you feel more alert, it can also have contrasting effects that promote relaxation and better sleep quality when timed correctly.

Ice baths cause a rush of adrenaline and stress hormones in the body, which causes increased alertness and heightened senses. For this reason, it is rare that people find taking an ice bath immediately before sleep beneficial.

Instead, you should let your body enter a state of relaxation, after the adrenaline has returned to normal levels. During this stage, stress and anxiety levels should be at their lowest, giving you the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep. Typically, this happens 1–2 hours after cold water therapy, so planning your nighttime routine around this is more likely to provide you with deeper sleep and improved relaxation.


In recent years, chill tubs have gained popularity not only for muscle recovery, but also as a potential solution for better sleep.

The cold temperature of the bath can trigger the release of melatonin, promoting relaxation and reducing inflammation in the body, ultimately improving sleep quality.

By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and enhancing slow-wave sleep, ice baths give your body the most chance of getting deep rest that will leave you feeling rejuvenated.

To maximise these benefits, it’s advised to take a short plunge in cold water a couple of hours before bed and ensure your bedroom remains cool afterward. Timing is also crucial, as allowing the body to transition from heightened alertness to relaxation before sleep can optimise the benefits ice baths have on your sleep.

Contact Chill Tubs to Enjoy an Ice Bath Before Bed

Want to experience the benefits of ice baths before bed yourself? No matter how you plan to incorporate cold water therapy into your routine, our knowledgeable team is here to help!

Shop our range of ice baths online today, and get in touch if you have any questions for our team.