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Do cold showers help hangovers

Do Cold Showers Help Hangovers? A Dive into Cold Exposure Therapy

Experiencing a hangover is never a pleasant experience, and yet, most of us have sought out a cure for it at some point. One popular remedy often touted is taking a cold shower. The question is, can the physiological effects of a cold shower, which can impact circulation, heart rate, metabolism, and hormone regulation, really help alleviate hangover symptoms? Let’s dive into the science behind this intriguing suggestion.

do cold showers help with hangovers Circulation

Cold Showers and Your Circulation

Our bodies react in fascinating ways to sudden changes in temperature. When you step into a cold shower, the low temperature causes your blood vessels to constrict, reducing the flow of blood to your skin and extremities. This is called vasoconstriction and it’s the body’s attempt to preserve its core temperature[1].

Post-shower, as you warm up again, the blood vessels dilate, promoting increased blood flow back to the skin and extremities. This process, known as vasodilation, helps flush out toxins and waste products[2]. As hangover symptoms are often linked to the buildup of toxic by-products from alcohol metabolism, like acetaldehyde[3], this detoxification process could help alleviate some hangover symptoms.

do cold showers help with hangovers heart rate

Cold Showers and Heart Rate

Cold showers can also have an impact on your heart rate. When the cold water hits your skin, your heart rate tends to increase in response to the sudden temperature drop. This phenomenon, known as tachycardia, helps your body maintain its core temperature and circulate blood more efficiently[4]. An increased heart rate might help speed up the elimination of toxins from your system, potentially aiding in the recovery from a hangover.

Metabolism and Hangovers

The body’s metabolic responses to cold showers could also play a role in hangover recovery. When exposed to cold, the body works harder to maintain its core temperature, thereby increasing its metabolic rate[5].

This process stimulates the liver, which is the main organ responsible for metabolizing alcohol. An increased metabolic rate can, therefore, help the liver more efficiently process any remaining alcohol or toxins in your body, potentially reducing hangover severity[6].

Cold Showers and Hormonal Effects

Another significant physiological response to cold showers involves the release of adrenaline (epinephrine), noradrenaline (norepinephrine), and dopamine[7]. These hormones, collectively known as catecholamines, are typically released during ‘fight or flight’ responses and can have a variety of effects on the body.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline increase heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose, providing the body with a burst of energy and alertness[8]. Dopamine, on the other hand, acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, playing a key role in how we feel pleasure[9].

A hangover can often leave us feeling sluggish, tired, and foggy-brained. The release of these hormones during a cold shower can help counteract these symptoms, making us feel more awake, energetic, and generally better. However, it’s important to note that these effects are temporary and will likely wear off after the body returns to its normal temperature.

do cold showers help with hangovers cold water on your face

The Power of Putting Your Face in Ice Water

Just as a cold shower can elicit certain physiological responses, so can immersing your face in ice water. This action triggers what’s known as the ‘mammalian dive reflex’, an innate response that optimizes respiration to allow mammals to stay underwater for extended periods[10].

The mammalian dive reflex slows your heart rate and redirects blood to vital organs, thereby conserving oxygen[11]. This can lead to a calming effect and may help reduce hangover-induced anxiety and restlessness.

Ice Baths

Ice baths have long been used by athletes to aid recovery and improve performance[12]. They work on similar principles to cold showers, eliciting vasoconstriction and subsequently vasodilation. This temperature-induced flushing can assist in eliminating waste products from the body, potentially helping to alleviate hangover symptoms.

While an ice bath might be more intense than a cold shower, it may also provide more profound benefits. However, it’s important to approach ice baths with caution, as the intense cold can be a shock to the system and isn’t recommended for everyone.

NMN: A Potential Game-Changer in Hangover Management?

Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) is a compound gaining popularity in the world of health and wellness, especially for its potential in hangover prevention and recovery. NMN is a precursor to Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+), a crucial coenzyme found in all living cells that plays a key role in cellular metabolism[13].

Alcohol consumption can cause NAD+ levels to decrease dramatically, disrupting normal cellular functions and contributing to hangover symptoms[14]. This is where NMN steps in. By boosting the levels of NAD+ in the body, NMN could help to counteract the NAD+ depletion caused by alcohol consumption, thereby potentially reducing the severity of hangovers or even preventing them entirely[15].

In fact, a study conducted on mice showed that administering NMN before alcohol consumption significantly reduced blood alcohol levels and prevented liver damage[16]. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential of NMN in humans, these findings suggest a promising role for NMN in hangover prevention and recovery.

It’s also worth noting that NMN is generally well-tolerated with few side effects, making it a promising candidate for further research in this field[17]. However, it’s essential to approach any potential hangover “cure” with a degree of skepticism. The best strategy is always moderation and mindful drinking.

Personally, my favorite brand of NMN is Renue By Science. It’s extremely competitively priced and has been an absolute life-changer for me. I went and stocked up on several bottles of this stuff so I never run out again.

A Note of Caution

While there is scientific basis to support the use of cold showers, ice water, and ice baths as methods to alleviate hangover symptoms, it’s important to remember that everyone’s body responds differently. People with certain health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, should avoid extreme temperature changes unless cleared by a healthcare professional. Always prioritize your overall health and wellbeing.


Hangovers are, at best, an uncomfortable experience. However the science does strongly suggest that the physiological responses induced by cold showers, facial immersion in ice water, and even ice baths could potentially help alleviate some hangover symptoms. However, it’s clear that the best cure for a hangover is prevention – moderating alcohol intake and staying hydrated.


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