Tips For Better Sleep

How Does Taking a Bath Before Bed Improve Your Sleep Quality?

December 19, 2023   By JM Carpiso

Does taking a bath before bedtime help you sleep better? Several studies have proven so. Scientific research has shown that a good bedtime routine such as taking a bath, specifically a warm one can help you have a shorter sleep onset latency. This basically means that you have better sleep quality and fall asleep faster. Helpful right?

There are many factors that affect your sleep quality and the ability to fall asleep quickly, but having a good pre-sleep routine that helps your body relax better has a big impact. And taking a warm bath to soothe your body and diminish your stress can help you fall asleep soundly.

Which is Better for Your Sleep? Warm or Cold Showers?

A woman smiling and covering her face with one arm as she lies down after taking a bath and having good sleep quality.

The answer to this perennial question is go for a warm shower to improve your sleep. Warm showers help regulate our body temperatures before we go to bed and help us relax more. 

Studies reveal that before we sleep our core temperature drops while we release heat through our extremities like our hands and feet. Now through warm or hot baths, our bodies are able to accomplish this cooling process faster. This in turn helps our insides relax. Basically, warm showers not only help us feel clean but it also helps us feel more relaxed.

On the other hand, cold showers, though beneficial to some extent, can disrupt our ability to sleep well at night. Cold showers can make you feel more alert and thus hampering your sleepiness.

Cold showers have been shown to briefly raise cortisol, the stress hormone, resulting in increased alertness and mental focus. This will now push blood circulation and endorphin release that both lead to wakefulness. 

Taking cold showers close to bedtime, can interrupt the natural winding down process for sleep. 

Benefits of Warm Baths and Hot Showers Before Bedtime

Warm baths or even hot showers before bed can help you get good quality sleep and prime you for bed. Most people feel a sense of relaxation and relief when they wash their bodies in warm water at night. This can help signal our brains to feel sleepy.

Generally, both warm baths where you dip yourself in nice warm water for a few minutes or hot showers do have soporific benefits.

Here are the benefits of warm baths to your sleep quality. 

  1. Relaxation
  • Warm baths promote relaxation by relieving muscle tension and generating a calmer state of mind before bedtime. There is a calming effect when you take a warm bath.
  1. Body Temperature Regulation
  • Soaking in a warm bath regulates the body’s core temperature. Heat starts to move away from our internal organs towards our extremities.
  • The ensuing cooling process as the body soaks the bath signals your brain that it is time for sleep, as the body naturally cools throughout the sleep cycle.
  1. Stress Reduction
  • A warm bath before bedtime reduces stress and anxiety, leading to a conducive vibe for restful sleep.
  1. Improved Circulation
  • Increased blood flow during a warm bath enhances circulation, potentially contributing to better sleep quality.
  1. Lowering Blood Pressure
  • A study has shown that people who have soaked in a warm bath for 10-15 minutes before bed have lower blood pressure numbers than those who didn’t. 

On the other hand, some may not have the time to lie in a bath and may opt for a hot shower instead.. This too has good effects for sleeping.

Here are the pros of taking a hot shower before bedtime.

  1. Muscle Relaxation:
  • Hot showers soothe tense muscles, relieving physical stress that can disrupt sleep.
  1. Stress Reduction:
  • Taking hot showers can considerably reduce stress levels, preparing the body and mind for a more restful sleep.
  1. Better Melatonin Release
  • The warmth from a hot shower may increase the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which aids in the natural sleep-wake cycle.
  1. Clears Nasal Passages and Relieves Congestion
  • Hot shower steam can clear your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. This can help you if you suffer from congestion or allergies, which can impair sleep.
  1. Improved Sleep Environment
  • A steaming shower’s relaxing effect creates a comfortable sleep vibe.
  1. Feeling Clean Helps You Sleep
  • Feeling refreshed and clean can help you feel more attuned to going to bed. At times, when we feel grimy, we have a hard time dozing off. 

Why Should You Avoid Cold Showers Before Sleeping?

Cold showers though have many benefits like improving your immune system and relaxing painful muscles can make you less sleepy.

Here are some reasons why you should avoid cold showers before sleeping. 

  1. Release of Cortisol
  1. Stress Triggers
  • Exposure to cold water triggers a stress reaction known as “fight or flight” by activating the sympathetic nervous system.
  • Cortisol is released as part of this response to prime the body for higher levels of attention and energy expenditure. If you’re alert you won’t feel sleepy.
  1. Increased Alertness
  • Your anxiety levels may increase because of the cortisol release that occurs after a cold shower.
  • The body’s adaptive reaction to the stress of exposure to cold is a heightened state of awareness.
  1. Increased Blood Flow
  • Vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of blood vessels, can be induced by cold showers, which increases blood flow to essential organs.
  • Increased circulation may have a role in promoting your wakefulness and alertness.
  1. Release of Endorphins
  • Your inherent feel-good chemicals, endorphins, are released when exposed to cold temperatures.
  • Endorphins have the ability to naturally elevate mood and promote wellbeing and alertness, but this can also wake you up.
  1. Possible Interruption to Sleep
  • Even while taking a cold shower throughout the day may make you more alert, doing so before bed may prevent your body’s normal process of calming down for sleep.
  • In general, elevated cortisol levels and heightened awareness are not favourable for a peaceful sleep environment.

And so, if you have to pick between a cold shower or a hot one, then choose the hot one for sleep. Your body would thank you for it. 

A woman wraps her green comforter around her.

Other Things You Can Do to improve Your Sleep

Aside from a bedtime bath or a hot shower before lying down, nailing a good sleep routine can help you sleep better. Also investing in sleep essentials can create an impact on your bedtime bliss and making an effort to improve your sleep quality can actually improve your overall health.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your sleep quality. 

  1. Eat Healthy
  • This may sound like cliché but eating healthy can really help you sleep better. If you drink too much soda and eat junk food, you won’t be able to sleep well. 
  • If you eat food that helps you relax like green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, grains, lean cuts of meat and so on, you’ll have better hormones. Better hormones help you feel better and sleep better.
  1. Invest in Your Bed
  • Your bed is one of the most important things that determine your sleep quality. A good quality bed can help you feel cool at night and even help you fight back pain.
  • A quality bed can help you fall asleep faster and alleviate stiffness. 
  1. Exercise
  • Exercise can regulate your blood flow and thus help you sleep at night when you need to. 
  • Lack of exercise can cause a host of illnesses that can lead to sleep disruption.
  1. Get Sunshine
  • Vitamin D can help you create Melatonin. This hormone makes you fall asleep better.
  • Vitamin D also helps you feel less stressed. This can promote better sleep. 
  1. Meditate
  • Winding down at night and clearing your head can help your mind to quiet down. By slowing down thoughts, you can also slow down your heart rate and improve your breathing. This can help you sleep better.
  • You can choose meditation apps that can guide you as you meditate or you can just listen to soft music.

Baths and sleep go hand in hand since time in memorial. Warm baths have been done by emperors to the common folk since ancient times to sleep. Nowadays, taking a warm soak in your tub can also be beneficial for you. 

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