Sleep Soundly with Contrast Therapy
As the winter months approach, there is something soothing about climbing into a warm and cozy bed, with freshly washed sheets, after a long day of endless tasks, constant texts, and stimulation from various sights and sounds. For some, there’s also nothing like the feeling of a device in your hand as an added comfort in that warm and cozy bed, mindlessly and endlessly scrolling or playing games as a way to unwind.
When your endless scrolling or technology use from bed starts to interfere with your ability to wind down and ease into a full night of slumber, you may recognize how valuable breaking this habit would be. But it is often much more challenging to swap out another healthier habit as part of your bedtime routine.
Some may argue “I’m just a night owl” while others may say “I’m a morning lark” using their biology as an excuse for poor sleep habits; however, you’ll find technology addicts in both categories. No matter what group you fall into, after a day full of stimulation closed out by technology use, your slumber may be impacted more and more often.
“It is common sense that we all need adequate sleep. Yet, statistics show again and again that we just aren’t getting it. This is a problem because lack of sleep equals stress on the body, and stress equals things like weight gain, premature aging, hair loss, hormone imbalances, infertility, and lowered immune function.”~ Bella Yon, NTP, Lead Nutritionist & Recipe Developer for Metabolic Living
If you’ve been struggling with proper sleep, thus also struggling with any of the concerns mentioned by Bella, you’ll want to pay attention to this post on how to sleep more soundly with the use of contrast therapy. How does technology play a role here and why is ending the day with an hour or two break from technology so important to sleeping soundly?
According to Dr. Wu, a board-certified sleep psychologist and sleep researcher at Duke University, our phones, and other digital devices, have wreaked havoc on our sleep cycles by impacting our suprachiasmatic nucleus, a small part of the brain that regulates our circadian rhythm.
“The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the body’s master clock and it knows what time it is based on how much light is coming in. For our ancestors, when it was dark it was night and when it was light it was day, so they had a very clear way of telling what time it was. But now, we’re watching TV, we’re on our phones, we’re working inside and so we are completely messing up the brain’s ability to tell what time it is.”~ Dr. Wu
If you feel like you’ve tried everything to disconnect from technology so you can sleep soundly at night, but you haven’t yet tried contrast therapy, you are in luck! I’m going to share with you Dr. Jade’s formula for getting a better night of sleep by using alternate forms of hot and cold therapy.
I would strongly encourage you to replace your technology habit with this approach as a way to interrupt your normal nightly cycle of scrolling and stimulation. I think you’ll find it more relaxing and helpful to your SCN! As Dr. Jade discusses as part of this post on Instagram, the benefits of this type of therapy have been hyped up more recently. As of late, contrast therapy is kind of trending amongst health gurus, so let’s look at a series of steps outlined by Dr. Jade.
You can experiment with this bedtime tweak as part of your own metabolic detective process:
- Think about hot exposure through a sauna that is somewhere close to between 180 to 200 degrees F (many use the rule of 200 which says the sauna should be at or exceed 200 when the humidity is added to the heat, i.e. a 180 degree sauna at 20% humidity). As a side note, I personally use an at-home sauna blanket, which is quite affordable in comparison to other standing home models.
- Stay in the hot for 5-20 minutes. A good rule of thumb is to leave when you are feeling a discomfort level of 7 on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Now go into the cold, and try your best to approach 1-minute of cold exposure for every 5 minutes of hot exposure.
- Repeat this series of steps for 3-5 rounds. End with cold if you are adding this into your routine before the evening. On the other hand, end the series of steps with warm if you are adding this to your evening routine as a way to aid sleep. You may prefer a 5-20 minute break between hot and cold bouts as a way to build your tolerance and stay more comfortable as part of the transition.
- As an optional add-on, you can aid the transition to cold by submerging the entire body right away. This will lead to faster acclimatization. Start with 10-30 rapid breathing tumo breaths (also known as Wim Hof breathing). Then transition to a 4-7-8 breathing pattern where you take a 4-second breath in, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and breathe out for 8 seconds. This breathing approach aids the initial sympathetic response to cold and eases the eventual parasympathetic response to cold.
See if contrast therapy can help you break the habit loop of scrolling and technology-use before bed. You may find that you are so relaxed after this process that you are able to easily fall asleep and stay asleep without implementing any other changes to your bedtime routine.
“Remember that sleep is a physiological process and cannot be forced. The best way to ensure a good night’s sleep is to be relaxed enough to let the biological process happen independently. Good sleep has a ripple effect in the body that can help with fat loss, stress reduction, and a healthier immune system.”~ Danny Coleman, Head of Coaching, Metabolic Living
If you give contrast therapy a try, please let us know how it worked for you! We’d love to know if you find you are sleeping soundly and aren’t even missing those pesky devices before bed!
Photo by Lux Graves on Unsplash