Warm baths are typically part of the bedtime routines parents make for their children because it can help make the child fall asleep quicker. But according to research, it can work for adults as well, especially for those who want to make the most of their nightly sleep!
This study was carried out by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering. They gathered information from more than 5,000 studies that looked into the effects of passive body heating from a water source on four sleep-related conditions, namely how long it takes someone to go from being fully awake to being fully asleep, how long someone sleeps, the amount of time someone spends asleep in relation to the amount of time they spend trying to sleep, and the subjective quality of their sleep. The researchers also made use of meta-analytical tools to evaluate the consistency of relevant studies.
According to a news release on the website of the University of Texas at Austin, the group found that taking a shower at least one to two hours — specifically, 90 minutes — before bedtime in water with a temperature of between 104 and 109° Fahrenheit can improve the overall quality of a person’s sleep and help her fall asleep by an average of 10 minutes faster.
It’s not hard to see why this new study yielded these findings. The news release notes that warm baths and showers can cool down a person’s body temperature, which is a key factor in the sleep/wake cycle. Body temperature operates cyclically: It is about 2 to 3° Fahrenheit higher than at night, which is when it drops to its lowest. About an hour before a person’s usual bedtime, her body temperature reduces by about 0.5 to 1° Fahrenheit, continues to drop in the later hours of nighttime sleep, then begins to rise as the time to wake up approaches.
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The news release also states, “The temperature cycle leads the sleep cycle and is an essential factor in achieving rapid sleep onset and high-efficiency sleep.”
All this means that by taking a bath around 1 to 2 hours before you go to sleep and use water at the recommended temperature, you aid your body’s natural circadian process and increase your chances of both falling asleep faster and better. Sounds perfect, right?
So the next time you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, maybe all you need is a quick shower or bath!