If you're someone who only showers in the morning, you could be missing out on some of the best sleep of your life. That's right, a new study from the University of Texas at Austin, published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, found that taking a hot bath or shower an hour before bed can help you sleep better. Say what? Hot bath? It's summer. You're sweltering. Maybe you, like me, don't have air conditioning. The last thing you want to do is take a hot shower.
I'm right there with you my friendlies. That being said, file this knowledge away for fall and winter so you can have your best hibernation season yet. Once the first chill of fall nips at your nose, fill up the tub. Researchers suggest that the water be between 104-109 degrees, so I guess you should add getting a thermometer to your to-do list. Slide into your hot bath, or stand under a hot shower, an hour or two before going to sleep. Then get ready to experience nocturnal nirvana.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 5,000 previous sleep studies about the the effects of water-based passive body heating to arrive at this magic formula that will seriously up your clean sleeping routine. What's more, making this a regular part of your bedtime ritual can help you fall asleep 10 minutes faster.
"Warm baths and showers stimulate the body’s thermoregulatory system, causing a marked increase in the circulation of blood from the internal core of the body to the peripheral sites of the hands and feet, resulting in efficient removal of body heat and decline in body temperature," a news release about the study explained. "Therefore, if baths are taken at the right biological time — one to two hours before bedtime — they will aid the natural circadian process and increase one’s chances of not only falling asleep quickly but also of experiencing better quality sleep."
If you need better sleep right frickin' now, and taking a hot bath sounds about as enjoyable as a mouth full of root canals, the National Sleep Foundation noted on its website that taking a cold, or even a cool, shower when it's hot outside can also help improve your sleep.
"A quick rinse before bed can be similar to your body’s natural cooling mechanism: sweat," the NSF explained. "Even after you towel off, your skin is moist, and the evaporation has a chilling effect, setting the stage for sleep."
Now that researchers have armed themselves with all of this bath-sleep information, the news release reported that they're working with UT’s Office of Technology Commercialization to design a super smart bed that can tailor itself to maintain each individual person's optimum temperature throughout the night. Seriously, this bed sounds so amazing that it's where you'll want to spend all of your time.
But until this intelligent bed is a real thing, you're going to have to work a little harder to get quality sleep. The good news is that sleeping better at night could be as simple as adding a nighttime shower or bath to your schedule. Aside from helping you sleep better, taking a shower before bed washes off the grime and grease of the day and lets you slip into your sheets as squeaky clean as a baby. And you know who gets good sleep? Babies. Perhaps in part because they take a lot of baths. Just sayin'.