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Ice Face: An Easier Hack Than Ice Baths To Get the Benefits of Cold Thermogenesis?

By: Dave Asprey

I’ve spent some time experimenting with sitting in ice baths to induce cold thermogenesis, a fat burning state with wide-ranging health benefits from fat loss and faster muscle recovery after workouts, to better sleep and reduced inflammation [1-5].

Using this kind of therapy can have a ton of benefits, but it is still difficult for the average person to do.  The initial shock of sitting in a tub full of ice can scare most people away from doing it again. It’s time consuming and expensive to fill your bathtub with ice, and working up to tolerating a tub of ice can take a month. (In my experiments, I once got 1st degree ice burns over 15% of my body…going too fast can be dangerous).

The good news is that there is a quick, easy, and cheap way to get your body adapted to the cold, and to get many of the benefits without the pain and the hassle of sitting in the tub with 20 pounds of ice – brrr. 

Watch it here:

This is an old trick from meditation that has been borrowed as the entry path to more advanced cold thermogenesis practices like sitting submerged in ice, like the Iceman Wim Hof.

Sticking your face in ice water works because the vagus nerve in your face is connected to nerves in the rest of your nervous system throughout your body [6-9].  By using this simple trick to get the nerves in your face used to the cold, it will translate over to the rest of your body as well, and allow you to tolerate ice baths and cold showers far more easily.

The protocol:

  • Fill a shallow pan or dish with water and put it in your freezer.
  • When the water is frozen solid take the pan out, add water on top of the ice, and stir it up to chill the water.
  • Hold your breath and put your face into the pan for as long as you can hold your breath, or until you can’t take the discomfort from the cold anymore.
  • You can start slow with just a few seconds at a time, and build up to longer periods of time soon.

Tip #1: The optimal temperature for an ice bath is around 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit (because you want to get your skin temp down close to 50-55 degrees). You can use a thermometer to check the temperature of the water until you get good at estimating it.

Tip #2: I ended up using a snorkel so I could keep my face submerged for up to 5 minutes at a time (seriously, I’m a professional biohacker!). 🙂

Doing this trick before bed every night will drop your body temperature and help you fall asleep faster, and sleep deeper. I noticed profound changes within a week when I started experimenting with this 3 years ago.

 

References:

http://jap.physiology.org/content/95/4/1584

[2] http://www.jci.org/articles/view/60433?key=5e3684aee3d55b74adc8

[3] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0808949#t=article

[4] http://blog.bulletproof.com/cold-thermogenesis-in-tibet-and-the-dangers-of-biohacking-made-real/

[5] http://blog.bulletproof.com/3-hacking-fatigue-with-tim-noakes-plus-more-4-hour-body-fun/

[6] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1566070200002150

[7] http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/189/3/282.full

[8] http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628951.900-gut-instincts-the-secrets-of-your-second-brain.html?full=true

[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18753395

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