Bathe Your Way to Good Sleep With This Bedtime Trick
By Chris Brown
There is nothing like a nice, warm bath at night to relieve the stresses of the day. And recent studies have shown that there may be a medical reason for taking a nighttime soak. Researchers found that correctly timing a pre-bed bath can mean the difference between a restless night and a quicker, better-quality sleep.
When to Bathe For the Best Sleep
If you are lucky enough to live in a home with a bathtub, you may just have the secret tool for a good night of rest. A sleep study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin determined that bathing 90 minutes prior to sleep allowed participants to fall asleep 10 minutes faster than their normal times and experience subjectively better sleep quality. Although 90 minutes was the optimal time, any period between one and two hours before bedtime produced similar results. It's important to note though, that bathing too close to bedtime had the opposite effect. This is because bathing impacts sleep by its effects upon body temperature.
How Bathing Influences the Body's Sleeping Temperature
The link between body temperature and sleep rhythms is amazingly quite precise. As one falls deeper into sleep, a person experiences a drop in body temperature that triggers a release of melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep cycle). At its coldest, the body averages a full degree lower than its normal operating temperature (and three to four degrees lower than its highest point in the afternoon). The body is signaled to wake as its temperature rises towards the morning. Bathing impacts the body's natural temperature rhythm by activating a reaction that mimics the nighttime cooling. Because baths are particularly hot, they force the body to undergo self-cooling. When timed correctly, this cooling continues to drop the body's temperature into sleep levels, sending you into a deep, perfectly-cooled rest. That is why bathing too close to bedtime actually keeps you awake, since your body is still too warm to signal sleepy-time.
Desperate for a good night of rest, but don't have a bath? Don't despair, the American Board of Sleep Medicine found that a hot shower produces a similar effect. Finding the perfect timing of a bath or shower with your personal sleep cycle may take a little experimentation. But, ultimately, the power of the nighttime bath could be the key to granting you the life-altering benefits of quality sleep.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Davis, Calif.