When You Take A Bath Every Day, This Is What Happens To Your Blood Pressure

TikTok has romanticized baths, and for good reason. Unwinding with a good book, a choice beverage, and some scented candles in a carefully prepared tub of warm water after a really long day can feel incredibly relaxing. 

People turn to warm baths in an effort to relieve stress and there's science behind this, according to integrative medicine physician, Dr. Irina Todorov (via Cleveland Clinic). "Using a hot tub or taking a hot bath helps calm your nervous system and improve your mood. Research shows that people who take hot baths instead of showers report lower levels of stress." Even if you're a shower over bath person, you have to admit that soaking in warm water for a few extra minutes feels good on your muscles. And this is another reason tub aficionados find pleasure in baths. An intense workout and delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, can be relieved to some extent, without painkillers, by soaking in warm water.

What you may not have realized is that it's also something that can affect your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure may notice a drop in levels if they were to take a bath every day. Here's why that happens. 

How hot baths affects blood pressure

Have you ever really wondered what happens to your body when you sit in a hot tub? Beyond the obvious relaxation that you sense, your blood vessels dilate, which essentially improves your blood flow, and reduces blood pressure. 

However, experts explain that the blood pressure-lowering effects of hot water baths are only temporary. Your levels will return to their usual reading a few minutes after the soak. Even so, a 2019 study published in The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research found that having a hot bath before bed was associated with lower night and sleep-time blood pressure in elderly subjects. 

Science has found that practices like Japanese tub bathing and Finnish sauna bathing can be good for your cardiovascular health in general. Lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac death are some of the benefits associated with these traditional bathing habits. When a group of scientists attempted to see if regular hot water baths could reap the same benefits as saunas and hot tubs via a 2018 study published in Scientific Reports, they found habitual hot baths significantly reduced markers of atherosclerosis and cardiac loading. "Atherosclerosis" refers to plaque buildup on the artery walls. Some experts caution, however, against drawing cause-and-effect conclusions. It could be that people who take regular baths also have other positive lifestyle markers like lower stress and healthier diets, according to the associate medical director with the British Heart Foundation in the United Kingdom, Jeremy Pearson (via Medical News Today). 

Who should and shouldn't take hot baths

There are a few things to keep in mind when trying hot water baths for cardiovascular health, including blood pressure. Not everyone with blood pressure problems should attempt this without a doctor's recommendation. For example, people with low blood pressure might experience the effects of a dangerous drop in levels, like dizziness or lightheadedness, if they were to get in a hot water bath. Those with poorly controlled high blood pressure, serious heart issues, and angina should be careful too. In addition to lowering your blood pressure, warm water can also make your heart beat faster. This can be stressful for some heart conditions. 

But hot water baths are considered safe for those with mild high blood pressure. Just make sure the water temperature is less than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you stay in there no more than 15 minutes, and you get out of the tub if you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy. Also, it goes without saying that dealing with high blood pressure is a lifestyle affair that involves eating a healthy diet, reducing your stress levels, exercising regularly, reducing your salt intake, and getting quality sleep. Sometimes, it also involves medications. However, taking a warm bath before bed every day or whenever you feel stressed can be a nice addition to your overall healthy habits. 

Hot baths aside, did you know strange things happen to your blood pressure when you sleep naked too? You may want to give that one a read.