For many people, bathing before bed is a natural part of their daily routine, however evidence suggests that bathing before bed can actually increase your chances of a better night's sleep.
How can a bath help me to fall asleep faster?
At bedtime, your body will experience a natural decrease in its core temperature, and since body temperature plays such an important role in your sleep-wake cycle, bathing before bed can increase your chances of falling asleep quicker. Submerging your body in warm water brings the blood to the surface, meaning the core body temperature drops, sending signals that trigger the sleep-wake cycle, letting the body know that it is time to sleep.
Studies have shown that bathing between 40℃ - 42℃, for at least 10 minutes can help you to fall asleep faster. It is advised that you bathe between one and two hours before bed for best results. When this is incorporated into your nightly routine, it signifies to the body that it is time for bed.
Bath or Shower?
Whilst many people prefer to have a shower at night, if you have trouble falling asleep, bathing allows your body to be surrounded by warm water, easing the muscles and putting you in a much better relaxed state of mind. In addition, laying down in a bath offers a much more relaxing position than standing for a shower.
However, if you do prefer hot showers at night, you are still able to reap the benefits of falling asleep faster.
Should my bath be hot?
Hot baths, between 32℃ and 42.5℃, are beneficial for many reasons, such as
- Relieving muscles
- Releasing nasal congestion
- Lowers body tension
The benefits established in relation to bathing before bed are in connection with warm water. However, it is best to evaluate which water temperature is best suited to your nightly needs. Overall studies have shown that warm baths hold more benefits.
What about cold baths at night?
Cold baths or showers do carry potential benefits, but depending on your personal requirements, cold showers or baths might be better in the morning. There is more data to suggest that warm baths improve your quality of sleep. However, cold showers are known to enhance your immune system, increase vitality, bloody circulation and soothe your sore muscles.
We know that body temperature is integral in your sleep-wake cycle, and some researchers reported that after a cold shower, they experienced colder hands and feet for a longer period of time. This means that it might not help you sleep due to the cold water’s stimulating properties. In addition, the cold pressure of the water on the body encourages you to be alert and awake, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep quickly.
If the weather is particularly hot and this causes you to be unsettled at night disrupting your sleep, then a cold bath or shower before bed can help to cool you down before you sleep making you more comfortable.
The mental benefits of bathing before bed
For many, bathing is a form of self-care, and using essential oils and bath products which aid your personal self-care routine can relieve,
- Reduce mild symptoms of depression
Therefore, bathing before bed can help to regulate your mood making it easier to fall asleep at night.
The physical benefits of bathing before bed
If you struggle with pain in your muscles and this is something that impacts your sleep, then bathing before bed can soothe your muscles releasing physical tension aiding a better night’s sleep. This creates a knock on effect as improving your quality of sleep leads to better physical benefits, such as
- Boosting your immune system
- Increase your energy levels
- Help maintain a healthy weight
Bathing with essential oils
Some essential oils are particularly useful and can encourage you to get a good night’s sleep. These can be put into your bath and used to help with such sleep conditions as insomnia. Some essential oils that are commonly used are,
- Lavender oil
- Chamomile oil
- Sweet marjoram oil (recommended for insomnia)
- Bergamot oil
- Clary sage oil
- Valerian oil
- Peppermint oil
- Jasmine oil
When using essential oils, it is important to consider which is the right oil for you. Ensure that you read the instructions on the individual oil labels and use them as directed.