Is Being Cold Good For Us? There is a difference between short bursts of being cold and being cold through the night and ending up unwell. The winters seem to be getting more biting, and while we all want to avoid getting poorly, there are some surprising benefits to being cold, on purpose, in short bursts.
Although this isn’t ideal for those with chronic pain and inflammation diseases if you have joints that sometimes swell, being in the cold can help reduce them. The cold outdoors is similar to putting an icepack on where it hurts.
Did you know that we sleep much better when a bedroom is colder? Well, in the winter, we are likely to be able to get to sleep faster for a few reasons – it is darker earlier, so our brains naturally want to go to sleep. But, when we get tired and go to sleep, our body’s core temperature drops.
The cold air outside and the extra effort your body puts into keeping you warm out there actually burn calories, which doubles down on getting a good night’s rest.
Cold therapy, or being out in the cold, can help reduce stress and, in some cases, anxiety. When we are cold, the production of norepinephrine is higher, and that neurotransmitter is responsible for vigilance, mood, attention and focus. This means that cold therapy can produce happiness, calm feelings, and a sense of well-being. Stress reduction is one of the reasons ice bathing has become so popular.
Those who bathe in ice water often have an increase in glutathione, which is what the body needs to reduce free radicals in the body, so as well as mental stress, it helps with oxidative stress.
Our body fat comprises white and brown fat; brown fat is considered good, while white fat is not. Brown fat is fuel for the body, and being cold stimulates the body to turn the white fat into brown fat. Because our body wants to stay warm, it will use the fat supply to do it. It is important to note that the cold in the study was moderate cold, not uncomfortably cold (the one that makes you shiver).
Some studies support that people who live in slightly colder climates or are regularly exposed to cold could live longer. The studies look at fish, mice, rats and flies. Fish that live in lower temperatures have a lifespan that is 75% longer than the same type of fish in a warm climate. Flies lived twice as long, and rats and mice had a lower core temperature, showing hormesis (adapting to the conditions).
A study looking at people who had six weeks of cold water immersion and those who had now found that the cold water participants had a more active immune system. There were increased levels of B lymphocytes, IL-6, CD3, CD4 and CD8 – all of which are indicative of the cold water impacting the immune system in a positive way.
If stress reduction is high on your list, alongside cold, here are some other things you can do: Stress-Fighting Strategies You Can Try At Home.