Sleep plays a key role in both quality of life and long-term health, but many adults struggle with insomnia and poor sleep quality, suffering brain fog, exhaustion, and other issues as a result. Many sleep improvement studies revolve around avoiding coffee after noon and artificial blue light after dinner, but a new study offers a different, and quite simple, alternative: taking a long hot bath before bed.
According to a study out of the University of Texas at Austin, taking a bath an hour or two before bed was found to greatly improve one’s sleep quality at night, though the bath water had to be around 104 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit. The conclusion comes from an analysis of data from 5,322 studies.
The team looked at the impact bathing in warm water has on a number of sleep conditions, such as how long it takes to fall asleep, how long the sleep lasts, the subjective quality of the sleep, and the sleep efficiency. Bathing in water that was between 104F and 109F was found to improve one’s overall sleep quality.
In addition, scheduling the bath for an hour or two before bedtime was found to reduce how long it takes to fall asleep by an average of 10 minutes. The findings build upon a large body of research linking water-based body heating to improved sleep quality.
The warm water is key to the sleep improvements. The researchers explain that a warm bath or shower causes increased blood circulation in the feet and hands, boosting how efficiently the body removes heat. This results in a drop in body temperature, something that should ideally happen around 90 minutes before bed for better sleep quality.