Your alarm goes off. It's way too early, and you're way too tired. You finally get out of bed. You walk into the bathroom. And you turn the faucet to--ice cold?!
It might sound psychotic, but there's a faction of entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley types who believe in starting the day by dousing yourself with frigid water. They believe the practice is a type of "positive stress": a form of extreme discomfort that in some way will help you improve your day.
Bayard Winthrop, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based clothing company American Giant, told Inc. earlier this year that he started his cold shower ritual after taking a business trip to Japan, where elderly people would take ice baths every day. "They were older, but incredibly vital and seemed more spry than me," he says. So he decided to try it--and got hooked.
"There's this undeniable endorphin rush, a good natural energy boost--and I like the idea of starting the day by doing something challenging," Winthrop said. "Once you do it for a while, it becomes almost like a drug."
According to CNBC, the fad started gaining legs in Silicon Valley after Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof traveled through the area on a speaking tour in 2017. Hof, who at several points has held the world record for the longest ice bath (nearly two hours) and once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro wearing only shorts, uses deep breathing exercises to combat the severe temperatures. He claims extreme feats can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as illnesses like arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Less adventurous tech types tend to focus more on the idea that the cold showers will help them work better or longer. "It keeps me balanced," Zachary Rapp, co-founder of digital health startup PhenoMx, told CNBC. "Like the stress is leaving my body, so I don't feel like I'm hitting a brick wall."
Here at Inc., we had to test for ourselves whether cold showers would make us feel less stressed, more productive, or basically anything besides just angry. Check out the latest episode of Inc. Tested above to see what we found.