It’s long been recommended that a warm bath or shower can improve sleep. There is also a growing body of research showing how important sleep is to almost every facet of your overall health. So, the question must be asked: is there a best time to take a bath?
According to a new review published in Sleep Medicine Review, there might be a perfect time for a pre-sleep bath. The researchers indicated that bathing or showering in warm water for at least 10-minutes one-to-two hours before bed might have the most significant benefits for getting a long restorative night of quality shut-eye.
So, what is the bath-sleep connection, and how could they have possibly measured it? Let’s take a look.
There are two reasons why being submerged in warm water can help with sleep. The first is that it can be relaxing: plain and simple. The other is that getting out of a warm bath causes body temperature to drop to a level that can induce sleep.
To measure how “water-based passive body heating” impacted sleep, researchers tracked a handful of variables, including:
- Sleep onset latency (SOL): When you fall asleep
- Wake after sleep onset: When you wake after falling asleep
- Total sleep time
- Sleep efficiency: Divides the time a person is sleeping by the time spent in bed minus SOL.
- Slow-wave sleep: Deep sleep; reportedly best for learning and memory consolidation.
- Subjective sleep quality: How sleepers feel they slept
The best periods of sleep were observed in those who bathed/showered in warm water for 10-minutes one-to-two hours before bed. That time allows the body temperature to cool down and improve circulation from the core of the body to the hands and feet. The authors explained this may improve the “temperature circadian rhythm” to help people fall asleep faster and enjoy higher quality sleep.
If you’re looking for another way to improve sleep, taking a short warm shower or bath to wind down might be helpful. It could be a significant component to your pre-bed routine and can improve sleep hygiene.