Bathing Warm Water Before Bed Helps You Sleep Better

Published by Dr Gigi on

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Anyone who lives long enough will experience insomnia at some point in their life. Many adults experience chronic insomnia, either in the form of inability to fall asleep after they lay down or due to difficulty stay asleep through the night and increased night time wakings.

One of the ways to combat insomnia is to bathe warm water prior to sleep, according  to research.1

How The Body Regulates Temperature

Environmental temperature affects an individual’s body temperature, which is maintained by several biologic systems. For instance, if the weather is hot, your body responds by sweating in attempt to cool you off. Conversely, when the weather is cold, blood circulation is shunted away from the hands, feet, ears, and other body parts that are in contact with the environment the most, in order to prevent heat loss.

Hot, Cold or Warm Bath?

The temperature of the water is very important as the body reacts differently to each one.

  • Hot or Cold Shower: They both have similar effect. They will cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, awakening your body and senses and make you too alert, which is the direct opposite of how you want to feel at bed time.
  • Warm Shower: This is the best. It will help you relax, increase your body temperature to just the right level, increase your blood circulation to the entire body and help you breathe easier by opening your airways.

How Warm Shower at Night Helps You Sleep

The brain systems that control sleep are sensitive to body temperature and follows the circadian clock; biologic clock in humans that follows a 24 hour pattern. Circadian rhythm determines the sleep-wake cycle among several other biologic functions.

At night, the fall in body temperature signals to the brain to release melatonin (a hormone) that induces sleep. Towards waking hours, body temperature rises again preparing you for the day’s activities.

Prior to sleep onset, the temperature of the hands and feet increase, this is the body’s way of preparing for sleep. The interplay between core body and skin temperature is important in sleep regulation.2

A study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, suggests that bathing warm water approximately 90 minutes (1-2 hours) before bedtime improves sleep quality and helps you fall asleep faster.3

When you take a warm bath at night, your body temperature rises from the warmth of the water and blood flow to the skin and limbs increase. Immediately after, heat is lost from the body surface by evaporation making the body cool (except for the skin, hands and feet). The contrast in temperature of the different body parts then aid in inducing sleep and improves quality of sleep.3,4

Other Benefits Of Showering Before Bed

  1. Interacting with people and the environment during the course of the day may expose you to dirt, disease causing pathogens, allergens and unhygienic conditions. Bathing before bed at night makes you feel clean and refreshed.
  2. Night time baths have soothing effects, helps you calm your nerves from the day’s stress. Your sleep is better when you are relaxed.
  3.  For many, night time baths can be a moment to unwind from the activities of the day and transition to sleep mode.
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Dr Gigi

Dr Gigi is a medical doctor and an avid researcher. She is a healthy life enthusiast. She is passionate about finding better and healthier alternatives and helping improve people's quality of life. She started Healthy Life Pantry (HeLP) with aims to provide simplified research based and proven health information, delivered by seasoned health care professionals.

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