In Pursuit of the Best Sleep Ever: The Hot Bath Before Bed
After struggling to choke down milk before bed in the last post, I finally found my way to a sleep trick I could put my whole heart into: a hot bath before bed.
Admittedly, I'm already a bath lover: I've got bubbles, bath bombs, and oils. I've got a bath time playlist on Spotify and a silk mask to put over my eyes while I soak. Trust me when I say, I take baths to the next level.
But while I've always considered them an indulgent (and necessary) moment for self-care, I never thought about how the baths could help improve my sleep. Could something I've already been doing really fix all my recent sleep woes?
Why A Hot Bath Before Bed Helps with Sleep
I did the research and found that like the hacks in the series, this trick also has a scientific explanation for how it can aid in sleep. Because our body temperature naturally lowers at night, taking a hot bath before bed raises the skin temperature making the post-bath decline even sharper, thus creating deeper sleep.
The temperature drop before bed also may make you feel sleepy, which is perfect for those who struggle with falling asleep. This also explains why it can be difficult to sleep when it's hot out or when your body consistently feels warm throughout the night. I know taking a hot bath on a steamy summer night is the last thing on your to-do list, but if you have a hard time sleeping in the heat, it is worth a try.
What Happened When I Experimented with a Hot Bath Before Bed
The first time I tried this approach, I didn't feel it "work." I certainly felt rested and relaxed, but I felt even more awake as I laid in the bed, furiously willing sleep to come.
Upon more research, I found that while showers can work in substitute for baths, you need to make sure the timing of your hot bath is on point. In this article on Time.com, a sleep expert recommends a bath an hour and a half before bedtime. This can be tricky for those who eat dinner late or like to spend time with their significant other or roommate at the end of the day.
Getting into a bath right after dinner did make me feel like an old lady, but afterward, I read in bed until my normal sleep hour and experienced the deepest night of rest I've had in a while.
But this is a series about trying out sleep hacks and making them work for your routine. Since I can't reasonably get into a bath right after dinner every evening, I decided to do some creative troubleshooting.
Hacking Bath Time
To speed up the results of a pre-bed bath, I decided to elevate the experience via the use of a bath detox. These are salts, clays, and special mixes made to detoxify your body and induce rest, but you only need to do it about a half hour before bedtime.
Even though it saves time, the bath is a full ritual and process: a full glass of water before and after, 15 minutes in the bath, and then another 20 minutes after the bath continuing to sweat underneath a warm blanket. (I used a heating pad under a blanket to ensure I broke a sweat.) They're expensive, but I did sleep like a baby and wake up feeling like a million bucks.
The Wrap Up on a Bath Before Bed
I think a non-salt bath before bed may work better than any of the other tricks I've tried thus far (and I only have one more to go!). I also can't afford to do a salt bath every night, but for a weekly or bi-monthly treat, I'm sold. The sleep afterward was just too, too good.
Even if you don't feel like the splurge, taking a normal bath is extremely cost-effective and in addition to better sleep, you get the added benefit of soaking away all the stress and trouble of the day. 10 out of 10, highly recommend.