A Bath Before Bed?
Want better sleep? Try changing your temperature before and during your bedtime.
A new study by the UT Health Science Center at Houston and the University of Southern California tried to find ways for adults to combat insomnia.
According to a 2018 study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, about 25 percent of Americans experience acute insomnia each year.
“Whether caused by stress, illness, medications, or other factors, poor sleep is very common,” said senior author Michael Perlis, PhD, an associate professor of Psychiatry and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program. “These findings reveal new insights about the paths that acute insomnia takes and can inform interventions that target poor sleep and help people recover sustained sufficient sleep.”
But what can people do to fight off insomnia and poor sleep, that’s what researcher Shahab Haghayegh and colleagues tried to find out.
In order to explore this problem, the researchers from multiple universities and institutions reviewed more than 5,000 studies related to bathing and sleep, according to Towleroad. Within that, only seventeen of the studies adequately focused on the effects a warm bath or shower had on sleep. From there, the researchers used a statistical procedure to combine data from several of those studies. They then used that data to find out when is the best time to take a bath/shower before going to sleep.
The results were that a warm bath, of around 104 and 109 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 10-20 minutes greatly improved sleep. Then if this was done one to two hours before bedtime, the rate that people typically fell asleep quickly rose by 36%.
Again, this study is the culmination of many others, and it ultimately backs info from several other studies and sources.
For instance, the results are reminiscent of how Japanese citizens often bathe before they go to sleep. In many Japanese households, residents take a quick shower in their bathrooms (which have water-resistant flooring and a drain outside of the tub) to wash away the dirt. They then enjoy a bath in the tub to help relax. This collaborates with a 1999 study by Gunma University in Japan on the subject.
But why does it work? Well, as Dianne Augelli, from the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, told Time, it’s about the temperature of your body.
“You don’t want to heat yourself up right before bed,” she explained. “Cooling down is a signal that tells us we’re supposed to go to sleep. So interrupting this process can make it harder to fall asleep.”
Or as Haghhayegh explains for Towleroad:
“The body temperature needs to drop to initiate good sleep. When we take a warm bath or shower, the body brings large amount of blood flow to the surface, especially hands and feet. This blood flow brings the heat from the core to the surface and rejects the heat to the environment and causes a drop in body temperature. Therefore, if you take a warm bath/shower at the right biological time – one to two hours before bedtime – it will aid your natural circadian process and improve your sleep.”
So if you want to work on getting a better night’s sleep. Give taking a bath before bed a try. Get in the water an hour or two before you go to sleep, and stay in there for 15 minutes. Then see how well-rested you are in the morning.
h/t: Towleroad, Time