New Study Proves How Taking a Hot Bath Helps You Sleep

The temperature and the time is important, too.

We all know that, along with reading a book or practicing meditation, taking a hot bath is one of the best things you can do before going to bed. But a new meta-analysis of more than 5,000 previous studies has yielded some interesting details on how to use a nice, hot bath to get the most optimal night of rest. The research, which was recently published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, analyzed how exactly a hot bath affected the length of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as the overall quality and quantity of sleep.

In their analysis, the researchers at the University of Texas found that the ideal temperature of a hot bath for sleep quality was between 104 and 109 degrees Fahrenheit, and that soaking in these warm waters approximately 90 minutes before bedtime could help you fall asleep a full 10 minutes faster.

"When we looked through all known studies, we noticed significant disparities in terms of the approaches and findings," Shahab Haghayegh, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas and lead author of the study, said in a university newsletter. "The only way to make an accurate determination of whether sleep can in fact be improved was to combine all the past data and look at it through a new lens."

If you've ever wondered why a hot bath is so effective at lulling you to sleep, Haghayegh has the answer for that as well. Our body temperatures naturally dip in the evening and then begin to rise before dawn as a biological wake-up signal. When you take a hot bath, it raises your body temperature but then helps it cool down faster once you exit the tub. It's this rapid cool-down process that enables you get a better night of rest, which is why it's important to take the bath an hour and a half before you tuck yourself in. Taking a hot bath just before bed may actually interrupt your circadian rhythm.

It's also worth noting that a good soak can be beneficial for more than just shut-eye, as some recent studies have found that they can help alleviate depression and anxiety. So if you're looking for a good excuse to take that long-awaited bubble bath, soak away! And for more great sleep advice, check out 40 Effective Tips for Sleeping Better on Sweltering Summer Nights.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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