Feeling drained or like your mental sharpness isn't what it used to be? Trust me, I've been there. Like many of you, I went through countless health tips, looking for ways to shake off this sluggishness.
That's when I stumbled upon the practice of intentional cold exposure via episodes from the Huberman Lab Podcast. Andrew Huberman, a distinguished neuroscientist from Stanford University, has shed light on some game-changing methods that have done wonders for my physical well-being and overall performance.
So, I'm thrilled to pass along this impactful knowledge about Andrew Huberman's cold exposure techniques.If you want to try cold water immersion yourself, make sure to follow the Andrew Hubermans’ protocol below:
Table of Contents
- The Science: Andrew Huberman's Cold Exposure
- The Complete 7-Step Huberman Cold Exposure Protocol
- 1. Pick Your Temperature
- 2. Diverse Cold Exposure Methods
- 3. Dr. Hubermans Cold Exposure Guide
- 4. The Søeberg Principle
- 5. Cold Exposure for Workout Recovery
- 6. When to Do Cold Exposure
- 7. Boosting Resilience with Cold Exposure
- Safety in Cold Exposure
The Science: Andrew Huberman's Cold Exposure
If you want a proven approach to elevate your health and performance, you might want to consider deliberate cold exposure. Brought to you by the esteemed Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman, this practice offers notable gains for your well-being. But what's the science behind it?
A Meta Analysis found that when you step into cold water or endure a cold shower, your body goes into survival mode, striving to keep your core temperature stable. This kicks your autonomic nervous system into high gear, which controls involuntary actions like your heartbeat and digestion.
The result is a rush of adrenaline and noradrenaline—substances that prep your body for quick action. These chemicals heighten your awareness and increase your energy levels, sharpening your focus.
The benefits don't end here. Cold exposure can also spike your dopamine levels—the neurotransmitter tied to feelings of joy and drive. So, not only do you feel more alert and invigorated, but you also bask in a heightened sense of well-being long after you've stepped out of the cold.
In a nutshell, cold exposure serves as a natural, full-body system reset that boosts your mood, enhances your focus, and optimises your performance. Stick around as we break down how to safely and effectively fold Andrew Huberman's cold exposure techniques into your daily life.
The Complete 7-Step Huberman Cold Exposure Protocol
- Pick Your Temperature
Selecting the best cold temperature is crucial if you're looking to benefit from your cold exposure routine. It's not about making yourself super cold but about finding a level of cold that tests your limits.
According to Dr. Andrew Huberman, the temperature you pick should make you uncomfortable but safe enough to stay in. Individual tolerance varies— some are fine at 15°C , while others prefer it closer to 7°C.
Starting with less intense cold and working your way down is smart. Remember how your body reacts, and don't push too hard. Proper temperature selection keeps you safe and increases the advantages you'll get from your cold exposure time.
- Diverse Cold Exposure Methods
Cold exposure offers several options, like ice baths, cold showers, or cryotherapy. So, how do you pick?
- Ice bath therapy is a more controlled environment for cold exposure. They're favourites among people serious about their physical fitness.
- Cold showers are simpler and more convenient, providing benefits like mood upliftment and alertness, especially if you do them in the morning.
- Cryotherapy, though not as well-researched, is another short-term alternative involving cold air.
Your personal choice will come down to what you’re comfortable with and what resources you have.
- Dr. Hubermans Cold Exposure Guide
Dr. Andrew Huberman has a simple guide that suggests 11 minutes of cold exposure per week, spread over 2-4 sessions. This makes it easy for newbies to adapt and benefit from cold exposure without being overwhelmed.
His strategy focuses on frequency rather than length of exposure. The key benefits, like mood improvement and adrenaline spikes, can happen pretty quickly, allowing for a more comfortable experience as you get used to it.
Listen to your body and adjust your exposure time as you get more comfortable.
- The Søeberg Principle
After your cold exposure, let your body warm up naturally instead of rushing to a hot environment like a hot shower or a hot sauna. This is based on the Søeberg Principle. Allowing your body to warm itself can boost your metabolic rate, adding to the overall benefits of your cold sessions.
This is particularly useful if you want to use exposure for metabolic health or weight loss.
- Cold Exposure for Workout Recovery
The pain and soreness afterwards can be a drag for those who work out a lot. Cold exposure, especially short ice baths, can help muscle recovery and reduce discomfort.
But timing matters. Dr. Andrew Huberman suggests waiting at least 6 to 8 hours after working out before jumping into an ice bath unless quick recovery without muscle growth is your only goal.
- When to Do Cold Exposure
According to Dr. Huberman, early in the day is the best time for cold exposure. That’s because your body needs to work to warm itself up afterwards, which could mess with your sleep if done too close to bedtime.
If evening is the only time you have, ensure it’s not affecting your sleep quality.
- Boosting Resilience with Cold Exposure
To build resilience to extreme cold, Huberman suggests moving your limbs during cold exposure. This breaks the insulating layer of warm water around you, making you feel colder and thus boosting your body’s natural response mechanisms
By following these strategies, you can maximise your cold exposure sessions and reap the benefits for your overall wellness and performance.
Safety in Cold Exposure
Cold exposure has a lot of benefits for boosting our health and how we function, but just like any exercise or activity, you've got to play it safe.
Dr. Andrew Huberman stresses that safety is something to pay attention to when you're trying cold exposure. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:
Skip Risky Waters: Keep it controlled and safe. Avoid dipping into fast rivers, deep lakes, or the ocean, especially if you're solo.
No Quick Breathing: While taking fast, deep breaths might make you feel warmer for a bit by upping your heart rate and blood pressure, it can also make you dizzy or even cause you to pass out. So, it's better to stick with normal or slow, measured breathing.
Ease Into It: If you're new to cold exposure, don't dive into icy waters immediately. Start with milder temperatures and work your way down as you get used to it.
Find Your Comfort Zone: The point isn't to freeze yourself; it's to kickstart your body's reaction to the cold. Find a temperature that's super cold but not unbearable for a few minutes.
Listen To Your Body: Always keep attention on how you're feeling. If something doesn't feel right or you're really uncomfortable, it's fine to step out.
By keeping these safety tips at the forefront, you're setting yourself up to get the benefits of cold exposure without the risks. With a solid safety game plan, you're paving the way to fully experience what Andrew Huberman's cold exposure methods have to offer.
Andrew Huberman's cold exposure has science on its side, and its potential benefits, from sharpening your focus to lifting your energy levels, are worth a try. The secret sauce is easing in, staying safe, and slowly building up your tolerance to the cold. It might feel a bit intimidating at first, but with time, the cold can become a reliable tool in your health toolkit.
What makes Huberman's cold exposure techniques really shine is the deep dive into the science behind them. It's not just about the "what" but also the "why." He links every action to real physiological changes and health, making you feel more secure and connected to the process.
By embracing a bit of cold, we can boost our metabolism and enjoy many health benefits. I think it’s important to realise that we need to take action to better our mental health, even if it can be uncomfortable. Cold exposure is not about freezing ourselves but simply getting a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable. It might just be the chill pill we all need for better health!
Heythem is a psychologist and blogger dedicated to teaching mental and physical health. Heythem's Blog integrates the complexities of mind and body, giving comprehensive, actionable insights by combining professional expertise with a personal narrative.