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Why a Warm Bath Before Bed Helps You Sleep

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Nothing like a little TLC after a long day.

Many people today have a difficult time falling asleep. There are many different strategies that people have used to try to help develop a consistent sleeping pattern. Currently, one in three American adults have symptoms of insomnia. It comes as no surprise that long-term effects of sleep deprivation can lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and depression.

But there could be at least one proven solution: a warm bath. In a recent study conducted at the UT Health Science Center in Houston and the University of Southern California, a warm bath one to two hours before bed was shown to have positive effects toward a good night’s sleep.

The researchers examined over 5,000 studies regarding bathing and sleep. Of those studies, 17 met the criteria that researchers were looking for. The results showed that taking a warm bath (with a temperature of 104 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit) for as little as 10 minutes could significantly improve people’s sleeping patterns.

A warm bath was shown to aide in additional time spent in actual sleep rather than waking up and tossing and turning. It was reported that scheduling a bath one to two hours before bedtime would speed up the time it takes to fall asleep by about 36%. But why is this so?

It begins with our body temperature. Our body temperature is not constant throughout the 24 hours in a day. Our temperature is higher in the morning and the evening but is at its lowest during nighttime sleep. The body temperature needs to drop in order to get a good night’s sleep. When we take a warm shower or bath, the body brings in a large amount of blood flow to the surface of our hands and feet.

As a result of this, the body rejects the heat to the environment, which causes the body temperature to drop. By taking a warm shower or bath one to two hours before bedtime, you are aiding in the natural circadian processes that help you get a better night’s rest.