I first heard about cold thermogenesis therapy as a way to help reduce inflammation and improve both quality and quantity of deep sleep. But cold thermogenesis—forcing the body to produce heat by exposing it to cold— when done right has a number of other benefits, including burning fat, improving muscle recovery, regulating hormones, lowering blood sugar, and improving adrenal function.
I was intrigued by a therapy that promised to deliver so many benefits in as little as 5 minutes. The suggested protocol consists of sitting in an ice cold bath, with water temperature between 40-45 F until your skin temperature drops down to about 50-55F. To do this correctly, you would need a water thermometer, a skin thermometer and close to 20 lbs. of ice.
The thought of lugging the ice up 6 flights of stairs to fill up my bathtub sounded a little exhausting – not to mention expensive – so I put the idea aside for a while.
A little while later, when I was researching some ways to help with inflammation, cold thermogenesis therapy kept popping up. Looking for an alternative to lugging all that ice up my stairs, I learned about the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve in your face is also connected to the rest of your nervous system throughout your body. The vagus is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for calming you down.
By cooling down just your face to the suggested 50-55F, the vagus nerve sends the signal to the rest of your body to kick off cold thermogenesis. We already know that cooler body temperatures help us sleep better, so it is no surprise that this is another great way to help fall asleep fast and get a great night’s sleep. The effects may not be as pronounced as with the full-body cold thermogenesis, but it works well enough for me. (And both of my Sleep Trackers confirm my observations.)
There are a couple of ways to do this. The first option is to freeze a half-full bowl of water, and when you are ready for it, top it off with water, and swish it around until the water is down to about 40F.
Since I don’t have enough real estate in my freezer to do that, I go with the second option, which consists of filling up my bathroom sink halfway with cold water, and adding a couple of large CryoMax Cold Packs, to get the water down to the right temperature.
You can use a thermometer to test the water once you first start out, but once you start doing it consistently, you will know when the water is at the right temperature.
Once you have your cold water, dip your whole face in it, and stay submerged for as long as you can hold your breath, or for as long as it is comfortable (don’t push it too hard, you are submerging your face). The goal is to get the temperature of your skin down to about 50F. The skin will feel cold to the touch, and visibly “flushed.”
I usually set a timer, then submerge my face, coming up periodically for a breath, until I have accumulated a few minutes under water (again, start slow, and don’t stay under so long that you feel uncomfortable). I felt the positive effects of it on my sleep and inflammation after the first day of protocol.
If you give this a try, let me know how you like it. I’m wondering how little time it really takes for this to be effective, and a few short bursts on the face may eventually prove enough for me.