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How Ice Baths Improve Sleep

Sleep Stages

To improve sleep, it helps to understand the distinct stages it consists of. 


The first are what are known clinically as N1 and N2, or ‘light sleep’. This is where the greatest portion of sleep is typically spent. It’s marked by bursts of electrical activity in the brain that boost your ability to learn and remember information.


While dreams may occur in light sleep, they’re typically far less vivid than those of REM sleep. Named for its hallmark rapid eye movements, this phase is critical for emotional processing and healthy mental development. Ideally it will comprise about 20 – 25% of the total time you’re asleep.


Deep sleep or slow wave sleep is by far the shortest stage, but one that is incredibly valuable when it comes to day-to-day functioning. According to the US-based Sleep Foundation, “While all stages of sleep are necessary for good health, deep sleep offers specific physical and mental benefits. During deep sleep, your body releases growth hormone and works to build and repair muscles, bones, and tissue. Deep sleep also promotes immune system functioning”.


Most adults only spend 10-20% of their sleep in the deepest stage – figures which unfortunately tend to diminish with age. This downturn has been linked by researchers at UC Berkeley to the fatigue and memory problems typical of this cohort.

How Ice Baths Can Affect Sleep


One of the most commonly-asserted benefits of ice baths is an increase in sleep quality and duration. It’s easy to find anecdotal examples of this, particularly among proponents of the ‘Wim Hof method’. Some doctors, including Dr James Ibrahim of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, even suggest cold immersion to patients suffering from a variety of sleep-related issues. 


But how does it help, exactly?


While the mechanism is not completely understood, some answers can be found in a 2021 study of male endurance runners. It concluded that participants who brave full-body cold exposure – such as ice baths – achieve greater deep sleep within the first three hours, wake up less frequently throughout the night, and experience less heart rate variability during sleep.


Another plausible explanation for the sleep-promoting benefits of ice baths is their ability to stimulate the vagus nerve. As Psychologist Emanuella Noble explains, this can “reduce the flight-flight-freeze response and increase the parasympathetic nervous system activity, leaving us feeling calmer”. Managing stress, via this pathway and others, is known to lead to better sleep overall. 

Other Ways to Improve Sleep


Even with the aid of cold immersion, regularly getting 7 – 9 hours of quality sleep per night can be easier said than done. Incorporating these habits, however, can improve your ‘sleep hygiene’ and set you on the right path.


  • Be Consistent – Setting a bedtime and sticking to it will help reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

  • Avoid ScreensStudies show that exposure to two or more hours of screen time at night can disrupt the melatonin surge needed to fall asleep.

  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol – Stimulants and depressants may delay the onset and reduce the quality of sleep.

  • Get Some Exercise – Keeping active during the day can help sleep come more easily at night.

  • Eat Kiwifruit – Yes, you read that correctly. Kiwifruit contains numerous beneficial compounds including serotonin, and has been shown to significantly increase total sleep time and sleep efficiency

Optimise Your Sleep With iCoolsport 


The benefits of ice baths are many, but incorporating them into your routine can be a hassle. Filling your acrylic bathtub with bags of ice every day is far from ideal, and trying to simulate the experience with a cold shower leads to inconsistent results. Fortunately, there is a quality, Australian-made solution you can get your hands on.


iCoolsport offers a range of ice baths for varying needs. In fact, iCool invented modern ice baths and are the largest global supplier. From the single-person IceOne bath to solutions big enough for the whole family, we cover all bases.


Of course you’ll need a way to cool the water. Our iCool Compact Chill is suitable for baths of up to 500L and can maintain a constant water temperature of as little as two degrees. With easy to use one touch start and wifi remote controls, it makes taking regular ice baths a cinch, and allows you to increase your cold tolerance gradually and consistently. 

For more information about ice baths, peruse our blog and explore our range online.