What Is The Best Time To Cold Plunge During The Day? (The Absolute Truth)

As an athlete, and probably the biggest advocate of cold plunges out there, I have tried to take my ice baths at various times of the day.

And they were all great…believe me!

There are many benefits of timing your ice bath sessions. However, which one is best? Is a morning ice bath the same as an evening immersion or one in the afternoon break time?

Your water chiller will be on all day long…all you have to do is pick your time, and I might have the perfect time for you! Let us look at the best time to cold plunge during the day.

Key Takeaways

  • In the morning might be best overall because of the mental benefits and energy surge.
  • In the evening if your schedule does not allow it earlier (might disturb your sleep).
  • Right after a workout for optimal recovery.
  • Right after a sauna session to practice contrast therapy.

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What Is The Best Time To Cold Plunge?

The optimal time to immerse in ice baths often depends on your goals and objectives. There are many benefits of cold therapy, but timing them might give you an edge on some of those benefits.

Let’s see which time is the best time to cold plunge, and which individuals it benefit the most.

Comparing what is the best time to cold plunge between morning or evening.

In the morning

Starting your day with cold water therapy can be a game-changer, especially for those seeking an immediate spike in mental energy and alertness.

Typically, the best time to cold plunge in the morning is right after you wake up.

I personally do it right before breakfast, in the first hour of waking up. This is, hands down, the best way to properly wake up and start the day.

Firing up your water chiller the night before will ensure you get all the good benefits from it. Here is why you might take a cold plunge in the morning:

  • Boosts Mental Alertness: The shock of cold water can jolt your nervous system and increase alertness. This can lead to improved concentration and focus throughout the day.

  • Enhances Mood: Cold water immersion stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators. This can lead to an improved mood and a positive start to your day.

  • Increases Energy Levels: The cold exposure can trigger an adrenaline rush, which can provide a natural energy boost, helping you feel more awake and ready to tackle the day.

There aren’t health drawbacks to taking an ice bath specifically in the morning. However, if you run on a tight schedule and can’t afford to take a cold plunge, then the only drawback is that it’s time-consuming.

At night

Taking a cold plunge in the evening can be a great way to recover from the day you just had. It could be a good way to end your day and prepare for bedtime.

However, neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman stated that when your body heats up (trying to keep up with the cold temperature), it can also result in waking you up, and maybe impacting your sleep.

Andrew Huberman answers whether it's better to take an ice bath in the morning or at night.
Screenshot taken from Dr. Huberman’s website

With that in mind, if you don’t wish to perturb your sleep, then simply try to do it at least 2-3 hours before you sleep.

As Dr. Huberman said, the most important thing is to simply do the cold plunge. If you cannot do it any other time in the day, then it’s not the end of the world.

Right after your workout/training

As an athlete who has done this many times, taking a cold plunge right after a workout is awesome because it recovers your muscle, while also giving you the energy to continue with your day.

Workouts or training sessions can drain our energy levels, and taking an ice bath has saved me from crashing the rest of the day!

Taking a plunge into cold temperatures immediately after a workout can be a key strategy in enhancing your post-workout recovery.

That’s because it reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), or simply put, muscle soreness.

By immersing your tired muscles in cold water, you’re effectively constricting blood vessels and decreasing metabolic activity, which significantly reduces inflammation and muscle breakdown.

This means you can bounce back faster, with less soreness and fatigue. Additionally, the cold plunge can help flush out lactic acid and other metabolic waste from your muscles, promoting quicker recovery.

Benefits and drawbacks of cold plunge before or after workout.

Although ice baths after exercise are great for recovery, they might kill your gains…

Research has shown mixed results regarding ice baths and muscle growth. Some studies suggest that regular use of ice baths might reduce long-term gains in muscle mass and strength, while others indicate minimal impact.

After the sauna

This practice is called contrast therapy, where you take a cold plunge right after a hot sauna session, and you can repeat the cycle.

Contrast therapy, also known as hot and cold therapy, is a technique that involves alternating between cold plunges and hot therapy.

This method aims to reduce inflammation, manage pain, and improve recovery by leveraging the effects of temperature changes on the body.

Benefits and how to do Contrast Therapy.

How to do it: Start with a warm environment, in a sauna or hot bath, for about 10 minutes, then switch to cold water immersion for about 2-3 minutes. Repeat this cycle 3-4 times. The hot sauna session elevates body temperature, increasing blood flow and relaxing muscles. The subsequent cold plunge constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation.

Best time to do it: Contrast therapy can be most beneficial post-exercise to aid in recovery. However, it can also be effective in the morning to invigorate the body or in the evening to promote relaxation and better sleep.

Benefits over single-temperature therapy: By alternating temperatures, contrast therapy combines the benefits of both heat and cold. The heat helps with muscle relaxation and increases blood flow, while the cold phase reduces inflammation and soreness. This combination can be more effective than using either hot or cold therapy alone, as it creates a ‘pump’ effect, flushing out waste products in the tissues and bringing in fresh blood and nutrients.

And always remember, always finish on cold therapy to not let the inflammation kick back in.

How Long Should You Stay In An Ice Bath?

The ideal time to stay in an ice bath is 1 to 20 minutes. The ideal ice bath temperature is not a specific number, but rather a feeling:

Cold enough to feel uncomfortable, yet tolerable. This can vary because of people’s ability to handle cold temperatures.

Health benefits of cold plunging

There are many benefits to cold water immersion. Here are a few:

Reduces Muscle Soreness and Inflammation:

As we saw earlier, cold shock response can help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and inflammation. The cold water helps constrict blood vessels and decrease metabolic activity, speeding up the recovery process.

Improves Recovery Time

Professional athletes often use ice baths to speed up the recovery process, allowing them to train more effectively and frequently.

Boosts Immune System

Regular exposure to cold water has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which can boost the immune system and reduce the likelihood of getting sick.

Enhances Blood Circulation

The cold temperatures help to constrict blood vessels, and then upon warming up, they dilate. This process helps to flush out toxins and can improve overall cardiovascular circulation, as well as regulate blood pressure.

However, people with high blood pressure should avoid the ice bath. Here are people who should avoid cold water therapy, according to Deseret News:

List of people who should avoid taking an ice bath, according to Deseret News

Increases Mental Toughness

Regularly taking ice baths can build resilience and mental toughness, beneficial for both athletic and personal challenges.

Improve Mental Health

The shock of cold water immersion therapy triggers endorphin release, which can improve mood and reduce stress.

Aids in Weight Management

Some studies suggest that exposure to cold can increase metabolic rate, aiding in weight management by burning more calories.

Final thoughts

So, what is the best time to cold plunge? I would say it depends on your goal and lifestyle.

In general, in the morning might be the most popular because of its ability to wake you up. After a workout is also great for recovery.

Anytime is a good time, as long as you do it, in my opinion!


Is it better to cold plunge in the morning or at night?

The choice between morning and evening cold plunges depends on your personal goals and routine. Morning cold plunges can invigorate and energize you for the day, enhancing mental alertness and mood. Evening cold plunges, on the other hand, can help in winding down.

Is it OK to cold plunge every day?

Yes, it is generally safe to take cold plunges every day, provided you are in good health and accustomed to the experience. Regular cold plunging can help build resilience to the cold and offer ongoing benefits like improved circulation and reduced inflammation.

Should I cold plunge before or after a workout?

Cold plunging is most commonly recommended after a workout. Post-workout cold plunges can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation, aiding in quicker recovery. Cold plunging before a workout is less common, as it can sometimes stiffen muscles, potentially impacting performance.

What is the optimum cold plunge time?

The ideal duration for a cold plunge typically ranges from 2 to 20 minutes. Beginners should start with shorter durations and gradually increase as they become more accustomed to the cold.




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