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A Shower Before Bed May Result In Better Sleep
Sleep. It’s something that we all take for granted, but far too many of us put too little thought into. A healthy person will spend about one third of their life asleep, but with so many of us working irregular hours and leading unhealthy lifestyles nowadays, it’s all too easy to fall into counterproductive sleeping habits.
Insufficient sleep is linked to greater levels of stress and numerous health problems. New research is showing that the temperature of the body around bedtime can actually have a significant effect on the quality of your sleep. A simple shower in the evening could be all it takes to raise the quality of your sleep to a whole new level.
The Relationship Between Body Temperature and Sleep
When we fall asleep, your body’s internal temperature will drop slightly. This process will actually begin when you start to feel tired. After falling asleep, your body will usually reach its lowest temperature around four hours later.
The ambient temperature in your room can have an effect on how easily you fall asleep. Research has shown that the ideal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 20 degrees Celsius), so it may be wise to use air conditioning or some other form of indoor climate control to keep your bedroom slightly cooler than the rest of the house while you sleep. Of course, this isn’t always an option. But what if there was another way to help you fall asleep that you’re probably already doing? New research is showing that something as simple as taking a shower at the right temperature, at the right time, can help you improve the quality of your sleep.
Showers and Sleep
Scientists have recently found that taking a warm shower in the early evening can result in a deeper, more restful sleep. The reason for this appears to be because it raises your body temperature, which of course, will lead it cooling down after the shower ends and you dry off. As your body temperature drops, your body begins to feel tired, since your body interprets a declining internal temperature as a signal that it is time to go to sleep soon.
A word of caution: it’s important to take the shower at the right time. If you take a warm shower right before bed, it will delay the process, and it will take you longer to cool down and fall asleep. Your body’s internal temperature is related to your circadian rhythms, which play a role in helping your body know when it’s time to go to sleep. Body temperature declines during circadian dips, so a hot shower immediately before bed will throw this natural process off. Showering a little earlier will give you enough time to get around this problem. According a recent report on Time.com, ideally, you should make sure that you’re dried off about 90 minutes before you normally go to sleep.
The research also indicates that taking a warm bath with approximately the same timing would have the same effect.
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Other Sleep Techniques and Shower Benefits
Try to discontinue your use of electronic devices with screens about an hour before you go to sleep. These LED screens give off blue-spectrum light, which interferes with your circadian rhythm. When you see these lights on at night, it can confuse your brain into thinking that it’s daytime, and you’ll have a more difficult time falling asleep.
A warm evening shower has more health benefits than those listed above. It relaxes the muscles and also helps clean out the pores. Heat can also help reduce inflammation to a certain degree, although this shouldn’t be taken as medical advice for an injury.
Cold showers also have their benefits, but they will tend to make you more alert, so it’s best to save those for the morning.
Perhaps the single best thing you can do to improve the quality of your sleep, aside from the shower approach mentioned here, is to reduce the amount of stress in your life as much as you can. Hormones such as cortisol that are released by stress have a compounding and deleterious effect on your health, affecting everything from your immune system to your blood pressure and more. Remember, there’s no magic bullet routine that will turn your health around on its own. You must adopt techniques like warm showers as part of a comprehensive approach to building a healthy lifestyle to really get the most benefit from them.
Until next time, enjoy a nice shower tonight, and pleasant dreams!