We’ve all likely heard before that winding down at the end of a long day with a bath can help your sleep. But how exactly does the science behind that work? What is it about a warm bath that helps our bodies relax and get ready for bed?
The summary is that baths provide many direct health benefits — our minds and bodies love them! And when it comes to sleep specifically, there’s a lot going on in your body after a bath that promotes great rest. Check out the list below for all the reasons you should start incorporating a bath into your nighttime routine… like, now.
They alter your body temperature, elevating your sleep.
Your body operates within a circadian rhythm, or internal clock. Part of the circadian rhythm’s role is to regulate body temperature to prepare you for bed as well as wake you up in the morning. The average person’s circadian cycle is characterized by a reduction in core body temperature of about 0.5 to 1 F around an hour before usual sleep time, dropping to its lowest level between the middle and later span of the night. A warm bath boosts this process by increasing blood circulation. To get body temperature back to a normal level, the body then efficiently releases this heat, leading to overall lower body temperature. So, if baths are taken at the right biological time —1-2 hours before bedtime — they will aid the natural circadian process and increase your chances of not only falling asleep quickly but also of experiencing better quality sleep.
They improve your mood.
From personal experience, a lot of us may say that a hot bath just seems to take away stress and make us feel better. But science now agrees. An interesting 2018 study conducted in Germany found that those suffering from depression saw higher clinical improvements in their depression from taking a hyperthermic bath twice a week compared to two sessions of moderate exercise per week. The reason behind this is likely related to the link between depression and poor sleep. The baths had a probable immediate impact on sleep quality, leading to a more well-rested mind the next day and as a result, a better mood.
They relax your muscles.
The heat of hot bathwater can be helpful in reducing muscle pain by blocking pain sensors and providing overall relaxation, which is especially helpful for those with chronic health issues. More relaxed muscles lead to better sleep.
They are soothing to the skin.
Dry, irritated, and inflamed skin will certainly keep you up at night. Irritated skin can be effectively eased by a warm bath loaded with skin-calming extras. Add in oatmeal, Epsom bath salts, or lavender essential oils for a bath experience that will soothe both your mind and skin and get you ready for bed.
They can reduce cold symptoms.
There’s nothing worse than a stuffy or runny nose when trying to go to bed! When suffering from a cold, inhaling the steam from a hot bath can help clear out your nasal passages and alleviate inflammation, so you fall asleep faster.
Tips to Take Your Bath to the Next Level
Now that you know more about how awesome baths are for improving your health and your sleep, try some of these tips to guarantee a self-care experience anyone would be jealous of:
- Set the mood with scented candles
- Listen to a relaxing music playlist
- Read a book
- Use Epsom salts
- Utilize aromatherapy through essential oils
- Warm your bath towel
What to Do When a Bath Isn’t Helping
Have you tried multiple ways to enhance your sleep with no success (whether this involves a bath or not)? If so, then you may be suffering from a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. This is a condition where a person briefly but frequently stops breathing throughout the night, constantly disrupting the sleep cycle. Most people don’t remember these interruptions in the morning, causing them to wake up feeling like they haven’t slept at all.
If you find yourself constantly feeling exhausted throughout the day despite getting 7-9 hours of sleep, you should contact a professional. For more than two decades, Dr. Jeff Rodgers has been helping people in Atlanta and beyond overcome sleep apnea using custom-made oral appliances. So, if you’re ready to finally get to the bottom of your sleep woes, he’s ready to talk to you. You’re invited to schedule a FREE consultation at Sleep Better Georgia where he’ll take time to understand your symptoms, perform a screening, and let you know the best ways to get the treatment you need. Contact us today so you can start sleeping better tonight.