Almost everyone asks me how to fall asleep fast and they are often not surprised when I tell them a warm bath is a good option but they are often surprised by how it works … it’s not only for the reasons you may think.
I think it’s pretty clear that the shower reigns supreme as the preferred method of daily personal hygiene. According to a survey by Angie’s List, 90% of people choose the shower over the bath. It makes sense. We live in a fast-paced society, and we’re constantly on the go. So we’re bound to select the most convenient option.
However, I would argue that a warm bath is a better choice. You may even save more time overall.
Baths help you sleep, including helping to fall asleep faster and if you get more sleep, you’ll be more productive and if you’re more productive, you’ll get things done faster. I know for some of you it seems impossible, but it’s totally possible to incorporate warm baths into a busy life. Baths boast other benefits as well. Recently, I penned an article for Psychology Today about the benefits of a hot bath before bedtime and how a hot bath can relieve knee pain.
Sure, a hot bath may take a little more time than a shower, but baths can also help you fall asleep faster and more consistently. The effect has been attributed to a drop in the body’s core temperature after the bath and the fact that warm baths are very relaxing. Certainly, both those factors play a role, but new research indicates that a warm bath at night signals the release of melatonin, a hormone that basically tells your body that it is time to sleep.
Baths are most effective as a sleep aid 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
If you suffer from anxiety, and it’s affecting your sleep, then a hot bath is a good way to relax. Stress makes muscles tense, and a hot bath will loosen that knotted tissue up. You can increase the relaxation effects of a bath by adding essential oils to the bathwater and by listening to music.
I love music. It’s a huge part of my life, and it’s also a wonderful therapeutic tool.
The next time you’re in the bath, turn on some relaxing tunes. (Obviously, don’t bring a radio or computer anywhere near the bathtub. Instead, use your Google Home or Alexa to play it from afar.) Studies show that music can slow breathing, lower heart rate and blood pressure, decreases cortisol production (a stress hormone) and relax the nervous system.
Another great method for melting away the day’s stress is by adding essential oils to your bathwater. Choose an oil that has a nice, pleasing scent. The essential oils provide their benefits through aromatherapy. You don’t need to wash your hair with them or anything. Add several drops before you get in. Pick the scent that you like best, but if you’re having trouble deciding on one, research has found that both Jasmine and Lavender may have stress-relieving properties.
If your sleep is often disturbed by knee or joint pain, then I also have some tips that can help you relieve pain.
- Take a warm bath to reduce pressure on the joints and to relax your muscles.
- Make sure you have a supportive mattress.
- Take note of your sleep position. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow below your knee or knees. Also, use a side sleeping pillow like the Curve by Everpillow.
- Apply a hot or cold pack for twenty minutes to the sore knee one half hour before bedtime.
- Talk to your doctor about the dosage of your medications. They may be wearing off halfway through the night, causing you to wake up in pain.
- Lose weight. If you have some extra weight that won’t be missed, losing it will reduce the strain on your joints.
- Stretch regularly, especially before exercise.
- Use proper form when working out.
- Wear appropriate shoes and compression wraps.
- Get more sleep. It’s healing!
There’s nothing wrong showers. They’re great for getting clean, but for relaxation and pain relief, you can’t go wrong with a nice, hot bath.
For a relaxing night’s sleep, I also recommend Sleep Doctor PM. It can help improve sleep quality, alertness in the mornings and may improve your sleep cycle overall. Made with magnolia bark, valerian root, magnesium gluconate, GABA and other sleep-friendly ingredients, Sleep Doctor PM has been specially formulated to help you sleep longer and wake up refreshed.
Dr. Michael Breus