The Wim Hof Method Promises Stronger Immunity, Better Sleep and More Energy. How to Start?

The Wim Hof Method Promises Stronger Immunity, Better Sleep and More Energy. How to Start?

Does the thought of going out without a jacket when it’s below zero give you goose bumps? Now imagine that there is a person who has managed to climb Mount Everest to a height of 6.7 km in just shorts or endured almost two hours in a tub of ice. You guessed right, behind these feats can be none other than the Ice Man himself, Wim Hof. But today, we won’t go into what he has achieved. We’ll take a closer look at the Wim Hof Method, which can help improve sleep, kick-start your immunity and improve your overall quality of life. Let’s see how to start with it.

Who is Wim Hof?

To begin with, however, we should introduce Wim Hof, the founder of this method, a little more closely. In this way, we will understand where cold therapy came from and how it helped him. This icy tale began in 1976, when Wim was just seventeen years old. He was walking in Amsterdam in winter and suddenly felt a strange urge to jump into an icy canal. Listening to his intuition, he took off his clothes and got into the water. At that moment, he felt a strange peace of mind. It was as if all thoughts were gone and only the present moment remained. It was at this moment that the iceman’s breathtaking journey began. [1]

Wim Hof sought solace in ice therapy when he was at his worst and didn’t know how to get out of it. He needed it most when his wife committed suicide, and he was left alone with his four children. By immersing himself in the icy water, he was reminded once again of the psychological relief he had already experienced as a seventeen-year-old. He understood that he could no longer save his wife. But he has the opportunity to pass on his know-how, to change scientific knowledge and thus improve the quality of life of millions of people. Wim Hof took this as his message, which he began to focus on. He even undertook various scientific experiments that demonstrated the many benefits and remarkable effects of his method.

If you want to learn more about Wim Hof and his records, you shouldn’t miss the article Wim Hof: the Ice Man Who Teaches People to Be Healthier and More Mentally Resilient.

How can the Wim Hof Method improve your life?

1. Strengthens immunity and improves overall health  

Wim Hof himself claims that his method can have a positive effect on human health. How is this possible? According to a 2019 study of people with inflammatory joint disease, there was a reduction in inflammatory markers after an eight-week course of Wim Hof method. During this time, the participants engaged in breathing exercises, cold therapy, and meditation. A comparison with a control group that did not take the course was used to determine the conclusion. [2]

The reduction in inflammation is probably related to our ability to consciously influence our autonomic nervous and immune systems through certain techniques. Thus, the Wim Hof Method itself could help increase the release of adrenaline, which in turn may lead to inflammation suppression. [3]

If you want more tips on how to boost your immunity, you shouldn’t miss our article 15 Ways to Boost Your Immune System and Protect Your Health.

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2. Improves mood and increases the feeling of happiness

The Wim Hof Method can have several effects on improving mood and psychological well-being. The first is the feeling of relaxation and calming during deep breathing itself. In conjunction with cold therapy, people can then experience euphoric feelings by mastering the challenge and pushing their own limits. This can also help to increase self-confidence. [4-5]

It also turns out that Wim Hof’s students gradually become extremely enthusiastic people and experience their physical sensations much more intensely than in the period when they did not practice the method. In a questionnaire survey of 241 respondents, more than 67% of them confirmed that their mood had improved, they felt better in general and even experienced a reduction in stress and anxiety as a result of practising the Wim Hof Method. This may to some extent be related to the increased production of endorphins and endocannabinoids, which can boost or improve mood. [4-5]

3. Increases energy

Deep breathing is an underrated method that can affect our bodies in many ways, and even affects our felt energy levels. According to Wim, if you regularly do special breathing exercises, you can expect to improve your sleep, be calmer, healthier and also more focused. All of these aspects also influence energy levels. Who would feel refreshed when they’re not sleeping well or being beaten down by stress, right? Cold therapy itself, which is one of the pillars of the Wim Hof Method, can also increase energy levels. Try it for yourself and see. As soon as you jump into a cold shower in the morning, you’ll probably get a shock. But it’s followed in moments by a wake-up call and a surge of good cheer and joy. [6]

If you want to learn more about the benefits of cold therapy, you shouldn’t miss our article How to Strengthen Your Immunity Through Cold Water Therapy.

4. Improves sleep 

Better sleep quality is guaranteed by Wim Hof himself on his website and is confirmed by the shared experiences of his followers. They especially praise faster falling asleep, better quality and a deeper sleep, and feeling more energetic when they wake up. Wim himself recommends not relying on breathing alone. Everyone should also undertake a regular regime, exercise, an appropriate diet and the environment in which they fall asleep. This should be dark and quiet, with a temperature of between 15-18 °C. [7]

If you want to learn more about how to improve your sleep, you should not miss our article How to Fall Asleep Faster? Try Our Simple Tips for a Better Sleep.

5. Increases concentration

According to Wim, the inability to concentrate is often related to stress in our work or personal life. He therefore believes that it is necessary to work consistently to reduce stress, and that a walk or a one-off relaxation session is not enough. He therefore recommends having a regular routine, for example in the form of breathing exercises or various meditations, which he believes can reduce stress levels in the long term. [8]

If you want more tips on how to boost your concentration, you shouldn’t miss our article How to Improve and Maintain Concentration During Work and Study?

6. Improves sports performance

Wim Hof is convinced that his method can also help to improve performance. Scientific opinion is divided on this issue. A study conducted on amateur runners shows that one try of Wim Hof’s breathing method has no effect on improving anaerobic performance during repeated sprinting. [9-11]

Another study, which focused on cyclists, showed that after one trial of the Wim Method, there was an improvement in performance compared to the control group. The fact that he has also helped Burnley FC in their training shows that there is something to the Wim Hof Method. However, you will get the results only if you practice the Wim Hof Method for a long time. This way, you will reduce your stress levels, learn to work better with your breathing and so on. [9-11]

7. Relieves pain and improves recovery

Pain relief thanks to cold showers is mainly linked by experts to the production of endorphins, which subjectively reduce the feeling of pain. Similarly, cold shower or bath can also help improve regeneration. This is also why professional athletes regularly use ice immersions. They hope to reduce soreness and muscle damage after training. Immersing into icy water is often alternated with warm water, thus practising what is known as contrast therapy. However, cold water after exercise is not recommended for strength athletes as it can slow down muscle growth and adaptive mechanisms to physical activity in the body. So if you have another sporting performance in the near future after, you can use cold therapy. But if you’re looking to grow muscles, you’d better avoid the icy water after your workout. [12-17]

For more tips on promoting regeneration, see the article How to Support Regeneration with a Massage Gun and Other Massage Accessories?

What are the potential risks of cold therapy and breathing according to Wim Hof?

In addition to the potential benefits, however, we must not forget the potential risks associated with Wim’s practices. One of them is overdoing it in the beginning. If you’re new to cold therapy, don’t overdo it. Studies show that just thirty seconds under a cold shower is enough to reap the benefits of cold therapy. If you overdo it, the mitochondria (organelles that are responsible for energy production) can be damaged. Likewise, there is a risk of increased oxidative stress and hormonal imbalances due to negative stress. [21-22]

The Wim Hof breathing method can also have negative effects. This method brings hyperventilation, during which oxygen may not reach the brain cells sufficiently. This can cause damage in extreme cases. Similarly, the functioning of the mitochondria can be altered. Mitochondria cells start producing more free radicals, which can cause tissue damage. During hyperventilation, there is also an increased release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which should not be happening in the long term. Moreover, if breathing exercises are performed too often and for too long, this can have a rather negative effect. For people who are under extreme stress, this technique can affect the nervous and hormonal systems. [23]

Therefore, before you start cold therapy or breathing exercises, do not go to extremes. Start slowly and don’t overdo the intensity. If you have any health problems, consult with your doctor if the Wim Hof Method is suitable for you.

What is the Wim Hof Method?

Wim Hof’s entire philosophy is built on three basic pillars:

1. Breathing

Breathing is a process that, unfortunately, does not get the attention it deserves during the day. We may not realize that breathing also affects the amount of energy that is released into our cells. This is why Wim Hof considers breathing to be the key to his method. [18]

2. Cold therapy

Wim Hof believes that the cold may have something to do with reducing inflammation in the body, boosting immunity, improving sleep and producing endorphins (happiness hormones). There are many ways to brave the cold. You can try a cold shower, swimming in a frozen pond or cryotherapy. All these methods make you exposed to extremely cold temperatures for a short period of time. Afterwards, the body warms up during activities such as riding an exercise bike. [19]

3. Commitment

The final pillar is the commitment you make to yourself. As part of this, you should promise yourself that you will be patient, focused and not give up at the first setback. For only in this way can you know yourself and build a strong will that will help you in all areas of your life. [20]

In addition to these three pillars, however, Wim Hof himself also mentions the beneficial effects of yoga, meditation, stretching and so on.

How to breathe according to Wim Hof?

Now that we know the benefits of the Wim Hof Method and the pillars on which it is based, let’s take a closer look at what you can do regularly in the comfort of your own home. You won’t even need any equipment to do it. Please note in advance that controlled hyperventilation occurs during this method. In extreme cases, you may lose balance or consciousness. Therefore, perform breathing techniques in a safe place, ideally in the comfort of your home. If you are just starting out, for example, with cold therapy in an ice pond, don’t be alone. Now let’s move on to the breathing itself. [18]

1. Prepare a comfortable spot

In order to fully indulge in this method, you need to find a comfortable meditation position. For your safety, we recommend choosing a sitting or lying position. In this position, make sure you can breathe fully. Therefore, you should not be hunched over or otherwise twisted. Wim also recommends doing breathing exercises with an empty stomach. This is the only way to get the most out of it, he says.

2. Take deep breaths

Close your eyes and try not to think about anything. Just focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Always inhale into the abdomen, chest and then release. Repeat this for 30-40 deep breaths in and out. You may feel your head spinning or your fingertips tingling.

3. Hold your breath

After the last exhalation, take one more maximum deep breath. Then exhale. Don’t take another breath. Hold as long as you can without inhaling.

4. Inhale and hold your breath for 15 seconds

As soon as you feel that you can’t stand to be without air any longer, take a breath. After inhaling, hold for about fifteen seconds and then exhale. Congratulations, you have completed your first round.

5. Repeat the whole process

Now you know how to do it, repeat the whole cycle 3-4 more times without a break. Once you are completely finished, remain sitting or lying still and enjoy the feeling of bliss you should feel.

Breathing technique according to Wim Hod is not difficult, which you can try for yourself. If you master this technique and add regular cold therapy, you are on your way to building a strong will, a resilient body and a personality that simply cannot be shaken. However, if you have any health problems, it is definitely a good idea to consult with a doctor before trying the Wim Hof Method.

What should you remember?

The Wim Hof Method is a simple way to use your breathing to work on your immunity, better sleep, improve sporting performance, good mood and overall health. The big advantage is that you need practically nothing to do it, so it’s definitely worth a try. To become a more resilient person in every way, include some cold therapy in addition to breathing cycles. Once you’ve experienced the magic of cold and its effects for yourself, you won’t give up ice baths. Plus, who knows, you may become the next ice man or woman.

Do you know someone amongst your friends for whom the Wim Hof Method could improve their quality of life? Then don’t forget to share this article with them. 


[1] Wim Hof: The Iceman’s Heroic Journey To Warming The Hearts of Millions –

[2] G. A. Buijze et al. – An add-on training program involving breathing exercises, cold exposure, and meditation attenuates inflammation and disease activity in axial spondyloarthritis – A proof of concept trial –

[3] Matthijs Kox et al. – Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans –

[4] Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt – Who is the Iceman? –

[5] James J- Allen – Characteristics of Users and Reported Effects of the Wim Hof Method - A Mixed-Methods Study –

[6] Deep Breathing Exercises to Help You Become Unstoppable –

[7] Strengthen your immune system and improve your sleep with Wim Hof's techniques –


[9] Wim Hof visits Burnley FC | Premier League Football –

[10] Tom Citherlet et al. – Acute Effects of the Wim Hof Breathing Method on Repeated Sprint Ability: A Pilot Study –

[11] Petr Bahenský et al. – Warm-up breathing exercises accelerate VO2 kinetics and reduce subjective strain during incremental cycling exercise in adolescents –

[12] Bleakley, C. M., & Davison, G. W. – What is the biochemical and physiological rationale for using cold-water immersion in sports recovery? A systematic review. –

[13] Mooventhan, A., & Nivethitha, L. – Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body. –

[14] Higgins, T. R., Greene, D. A., & Baker, M. K. – Effects of Cold Water Immersion and Contrast Water Therapy for Recovery From Team Sport: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. –

[15] Yeung, S. S. et al. – Effects of Cold Water Immersion on Muscle Oxygenation During Repeated Bouts of Fatiguing Exercise. –

[16] Versey, N. G. et al. – Water Immersion Recovery for Athletes: Effect on Exercise Performance and Practical Recommendations. –

[17] Cas J. Fuchs – Postexercise cooling impairs muscle protein synthesis rates in recreational athletes –




[21] Science Shows That Just 30 Seconds Of This Will Improve Your Outlook, Health, And Energy –

[22] Nana Chung et al. – The effects of exercise and cold exposure on mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle and white adipose tissue –

[23] What Happens During Wim Hof Breathing? –

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