can cryotherapy help hdr

Can Cryotherapy help with sleep?

Whole-body cryotherapy has become a very popular method to enhance recovery after exercise. It has been found to increase wellbeing after vigorous exercise, quickly restore muscle strength and reduce muscle soreness. In addition, whole-body cryotherapy has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions as varied as depression and psoriasis.

But can cryotherapy help you sleep? 

Over a sustained period of time, chronic partial sleep loss has been shown to reduce mood, increase the likelihood of picking up infections, impair the mental performance, and reduce physical performance. In addition, it can have unhelpful effects on metabolism. Quality of sleep is also key to recovery from exercise. 

Recently, two studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of whole-body cryotherapy on sleep. The first study involved a group of elite swimmers during an intensive training period prior to the Olympic games. To measure sleep at night, the swimmers wore actigraphs. These are devices used in scientific studies to measure sleep parameters. The study investigated the effects of 14 consecutive days of whole-body cryotherapy at a temperature of -110℃. The researchers found that cryotherapy improved sleep quality, duration, and time to get to sleep compared to control. Interestingly, cryotherapy also helped preserve the athletes’ swimming speed. 

The second study involved the men and women of the French National Basketball Teams. It was performed during an intense one-week training camp followed by three international matches. The training and the matches were part of the preparation for the European Basketball Championships. After training, or after a match, the athletes underwent a three-minute cryotherapy session at temperatures between -110℃ and -150℃. Sleep quality was found to be improved following the cryotherapy sessions when compared to nights without cryotherapy. 

So, cryotherapy has been demonstrated to improve the speed of onset of sleep, the quality of sleep, and the duration of sleep. We also know that cryotherapy activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system associated with recovery. Try it for yourself to see if your sleep and recovery improve.


Dr. Hugh Coyne

Private GP Parsons Green