You’ll spend about 4 000 hours of your adult life showering – possibly more time than you spend reading, exercising or watching TV – but chances are, you’ve been doing it wrong. If you take a morning shower, you probably think it energises you for the day, but it can actually have the opposite effect.
In fact, a hot shower or bath is what many doctors recommend for people who have trouble falling asleep — to help them fall asleep.
The reason: Emerging from a hot shower into cooler air brings a sudden decrease in body temperature, leading to a tranquil state of mind. This is helpful when you’re looking to fall asleep but not what you need before you start your day.
If your goal is to wake up in your morning shower, then you need to make a 90-second tweak.
The secret lies in the contrast.
Here’s how to do it:
Once you’ve finished your normal cleaning ritual, crank the nozzle as cold as it goes, and stand under the water for about 30 seconds. Feel free to gasp or scream if it helps (some say it does).
After 30 seconds, turn the water up as hot as you can stand for another 30 seconds. This opens up the capillaries, increases blood flow and provides an all-around sense of stimulation.
Finally, cap it off with one more cycle of icy cold. Always end on cold.
You might be asking, “Why would I put myself through such discomfort first thing in the morning?” Because it works. Hot and cold hydrotherapy has been used for thousands of years. In Finland, the sauna isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. The country is home to two million saunas (for a population of five million) with 99% of Finns enjoying the stress-relieving benefits of the sauna at least once a week.
Scientific research provides further confirmation. Studies have shown that it provides a full-body tune-up, including: