Can Taking A Bath Make You Tired?

There's no better feeling than slipping into a warm bath after a rigorous workout or at the end of a stressful day. Anyone who's experienced soaking in warm water knows what a therapeutic effect it can have on the body as well as the mind. Whether you're looking to soothe aching muscles or alleviate mental tension, a warm bath usually can do the trick. But can taking a bath make you tired in a good way and help to improve your sleep? 

Research by Shahab Haghayegh, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, indicates that it can. Haghayegh and his colleagues reviewed the results of 13 studies that examined the effects of warm water exposure in relation to the time it takes to fall asleep, as well as sleep quality (via NPR). They found that taking a warm bath or shower (of at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit) for as little as 10 minutes significantly improved both sleep quality and the amount of time spent sleeping. It even decreased the amount of time it took to fall asleep by an average of 10 minutes (via Healthline).

A warm bath or shower before bed might help you sleep

Researchers believe these effects are due to the way a warm bath affects the body's circadian rhythm — our internal system of regulating body temperature and sleep cycles over a 24-hour period. Your core body temperature naturally starts to cool down in the evening about two hours before you typically go to sleep. Soaking in a warm bath can actually speed up this dip in body temperature, signaling your body that it's ready for bed (via Sleep Foundation).  

According to Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist and sleep specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, our body temperature needs to drop by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit to induce sleep and then maintain deep sleep (via NPR). "The way it works is this: For you to get your heat out of the core of your body, you actually need to release that core heat through the outer perimeter surfaces of your body, namely your hands and your feet," he explains via NPR. And this is why taking a warm bath before bed works for catching sound zzzs. "What happens with a bath ... is you are like a snake charmer — you are charming the heat out of the core of your body to the surface of your body."

If you're having trouble falling (or staying) asleep, taking a warm bath or shower before bedtime is worth a shot. It's safer than pharmaceutical sleep aids, with no negative side effects. If nothing else, it can be a wonderfully relaxing bedtime ritual.