The humble bath holds within it so much power to soothe, relax and keep you feeling well. It’s also the self-care tip that unites some of the most successful women, from Emma Watson to Kim Kardashian. In fact, the Harry Potter star loves bathtime so much she often has three a day.
“I have a bath every single day of my life,” she told Into The Gloss. “And if I can have two or three, amazing. Nothing terrible is going to happen in the bath, so I always find time for that. I’ll take phone conversations in the bath, anything.”
We wonder if she’s having a bath before bed. Because reclining in the tub before slipping between the sheets is one of the most underrated ways to improve your quality of sleep. This is why:
They’re super relaxing
It goes without saying that a bath is one of the most soothing, restful things you can do. It’s the combination of the heat from the water and any essential oils or products with aromatherapy qualities that does it.
But a bath won’t just give you mental relaxation, it will help with physical stress, too. Baths soothe muscle tension and soreness in your body. Once those stressors are taken away, your body is in the perfect state to have an epic night’s sleep.
They raise your temperature
Now, for a little science. It should be no shock that a warm bath will raise your body temperature as you steep in it. As soon as you get out of the bath and towel yourself down, your body will drop down. So far, so simple.
But it’s this act of rising and falling temperatures that could be the reason why baths help you have a great sleep. Going from hot to cold again is a way of slowing down the body and helping usher us into our sleep cycle. It’s a way of telling the body that it’s time to wind down, basically.
Just a 20 minute warm bath will achieve this, according to recent studies. (Though, in fairness, the studies also suggested that a warm shower would have the same impact, but isn’t a bath just that little bit more decadent and lush before bedtime than a warm shower?)
They tell your body that it’s nighttime
All that movement from hot to cold signifies to your body that it’s nighttime. This is because your body temperature generally cools down in the evening, and a hot bath will help speed along the process by mimicking it. Ever felt sleepy after getting out of a sauna? It’s the same hot-to-cold thing.
But a word of warning, you need to time your bathtime carefully. You don’t want to be getting out of the bath and immediately into bed. In fact, it’s better to have that hot-to-cold transition about an hour before bedtime if you want to see results in the quality of your sleep. You’ll feel the most relaxed, then, which is why it’s better to give yourself more time to ease into your wind down.
They reduce anxiety
Our minds are racing constantly all day over a million different little things. It can be difficult to quieten the anxieties of everyday life before bed, but this is exactly what we must do if we want to have true and healthy rest.
Plus, you (probably) won’t be on your phone in the bath, which is another one of its stress-reducing benefits. (Our phones signal to us it’s daytime as they emit blue light, and wreak havoc on our hormones… but more on that here.)
They help your skin
When you sleep, your body works away on its most important project: cell regeneration. Your sleep cycle is when your body works on hair growth and the healing of your skin and more.
A bath could help speed this process along by giving your skin and hair much needed hydration and cleansing. This is thanks both to adding oils and salts to your bath that aid the healing process, but also through the temperature of your bath.
A nice warm soak will open up your pores, cause you to sweat, and generally draw out all the toxins in your skin. Afterwards, your body will be in the perfect position to help bolster the regeneration process while you snooze. We don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing.
They count as a little bit of exercise
It’s a common misconception that a workout before bed will help you sleep. The idea, according to those who suggest it as a tactic for battling insomnia, is that you’ll be so exhausted that you’ll drop right off. Actually, a vigorous workout will have the opposite impact, by speeding up your heart rate and waking you up with movement it will prove harder to fall asleep than if you hadn’t gone to the gym.
However, a little bit of exercise goes a long way. Low intensity exercise could help relax your body and mind and prepare you for slumber. Yoga or stretching is good here. Or, sitting in a bath.
That’s right, just sitting in a bath counts as a small amount of exercise, because a bath will burn a few calories, help regulate your blood sugar and reduce inflammation, according to a recent study.