These days, we're all itching to get a better night's sleep—we pour our money into weighted blankets, blackout curtains, and even state-of-the-art sound machines to (hopefully) lull us into REM each night. But recent research suggests there's a totally free way to improve your chances of catching some Zzz's.
According to a study at the University at Texas Austin, your nighttime shower—or bath, whatever floats your boat—could be the key. In collaboration with the UT Health Science Center at Houston and the University of Southern California, UT researchers reviewed 5,322 studies to confirm that bathing in warm to hot water just one to two hours before bed can help you fall asleep 10 minutes faster than usual.
The study aimed to see how passive body heating from a water source can affect a number of sleep-related conditions, "the length of time it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep, total sleep time, the amount of time spent asleep relative to the total amount of time spent in bed intended for sleep, and subjective sleep quality."
The perfect time to shower is exactly 90 minutes before you go to bed, and the shower temperature would ideally be set at 104 degrees to 109 degrees. Why, you may ask? According to the study, "Warm baths and showers stimulate the body’s thermoregulatory system, causing a marked increase in the circulation of blood from the internal core of the body to the peripheral sites of the hands and feet, resulting in efficient removal of body heat and decline in body temperature."
Basically, taking a hot shower during this time aids the natural circadian process we have for falling asleep, resulting in not only falling asleep faster, but a better night's sleep overall—so if you've got some trouble in the sleep department, try taking a warm shower or bath an hour and a half before you go to sleep, and thank me later.
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