Will a Hot Bath Help Me Sleep?

At the end of a long, tiring day there is something wonderful about having a soak in a warm bath.

Me time

If you’re a busy mum who’s barely had a moment to yourself all day, the chance to close the door, exhale and enjoy the peace of your own company while luxuriating in a tub of warm water is the perfect way to wind down. You might want to indulge yourself even more by adding some tealights in glass holders (although don’t put these on a plastic bathtub!), delicious scented bath oil or beautiful soap.

A bath is undoubtedly an enjoyable experience but, is there any scientific basis for believing that having a warm bath at bedtime can help you sleep? Yes there is and it’s all to do with body temperature.

Body temperature

When you get into a warm bath your body temperature rises. As you get out and into bed, your temperature starts to cool down, which naturally helps to make you feel sleepy as a change in temperature is one of the signals to the body that it’s moving from daytime to night-time.

The science

Researchers at the University of Texas Department of Biomedical Engineering, who published their finding in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, looked into whether “water-based passive body heating” (in other words, having a warm bath or shower) affects how quickly we fall asleep, how well we sleep or how long we sleep.

They concluded that it definitely does and advise the best time to have a bath or shower is one or two hours before going to bed. You don’t need to spend more than 10 minutes in warm water to experience the benefits as this is sufficient time to improve blood circulation away from the core and towards the hands and feet. As you cool down afterwards, this helps to regulate your “temperature circadian rhythm”, making it easier to fall asleep and improving the quality of your sleep.

Go to sleep sooner

So, next time you’re wondering whether just to collapse into bed or take a bit of time to run yourself a warm bath and have a soak, choose the latter. It will not only help you to nod off sooner but you may well sleep more soundly through the night.

For more great tips on getting a good night’s sleep browse our Blog categories: Live – for general lifestyle advice; Sleep – for specific information about sleeping and the conditions needed for good quality sleep; and Relax – for information to help you unwind and quieten your busy mind. Also check out our Product pages for tried and trusted products to help you sleep.

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