Always struggling to nod off?
Along with blasting your pillow with lavender spray and reading under the covers, there’s another scientifically backed trick that’s worth trying.
Taking a bath or shower before bed an hour or so before bed helps you get better quality sleep, suggests a new study.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin analysed 5,322 studies related to ‘water-based passive body heating’ (getting warm in some water, basically) and sleep.
A key finding was that having a bath or shower between one and two hours before bedtime, in water of around 40 to 43 degrees celsius, can significantly improve sleep.
As well as bettering the quality of sleep, a nice soothing bath or shower at this specific temperature and in this specific time window was found to speed up falling asleep by an average of 10 minutes. No more tossing and turning.
The temperature of your bath water is pretty key in getting its snooze-inducing benefits, as body temperature also follows a circadian cycle (the cycle that determines sleep and wakefulness).
The body likes to drop in temperature around an hour before bedtime, allowing it to be at its lowest during sleep. By warming up in the hours before bed, you create that cooling sensation just as you’re getting ready to bed, telling your body and mind that it’s time to rest and aiding the natural circadian process, resulting in an easier time drifting off and higher quality sleep. Clever, right?
The timing of your bath is key, too, with researchers finding the optimal time to bathe is 90 minutes before bed. Aim for an hour or two before bed to give your body enough time to cool back down.
We know the idea of a warm soak isn’t the most appealing in the midst of a sweltering summer, but it’s worth mentally bookmarking this for once the temperatures drop.
Six easy ways to improve your sleep:
- Give yourself a bedtime – and stick to it even at the weekends
- Use the hour before bed as quiet, relaxing time free of technology
- Stop drinking caffeine from around 4pm
- Avoid alcohol before bed
- Keep your phone on silent and away from your bed
- Get outside and exercise during the day