August 15, 2019
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Bathing shortly before bedtime significantly improves sleep quality

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Shahab Haghayegh
Shahab Haghayegh

People who bathe or shower in warm water 1 to 2 hours before bedtime fall asleep faster and experience significantly better quality of sleep, according to findings of a systematic review published in Sleep Medicine Reviews.

Haghayegh explained how the findings can prompt a discussion between primary care physicians and their patients.

“We hope this research can be used as a tool by primary care physicians to talk to their patients about sleep problems and the importance of , biological cycles and how the body temperature circadian is linked to our sleep,” he told Healio Primary Care.

“While many investigations demonstrate improvement of various sleep parameters by evening or before bedtime water-based passive body heating, some do not,” Shahab Haghayegh, PhD candidate in the department of biomedical engineering of the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues wrote.

Researchers reviewed 17 studies with 352 patients whose ages ranged from late teens to late 70s and with a multitude of health conditions — acute coronary syndrome, cancer, insomnia, sleep apnea, sleep disturbed, traumatic brain injury — among them.

Woman Sleeping 
People who bathe or shower in warm water 1 to 2 hours before bedtime fall asleep faster and experience significantly better quality of sleep, according to findings of a systematic review published in Sleep Medicine Reviews.

Source:Shutterstock

They found that water-based passive body heating with water temperatures of 40 to 42.5 C obtained through a bath or shower were associated with improved self-rated sleep quality and sleep efficiency. When these baths or showers occurred 1 to 2 hours before bedtime for as little as 10 minutes, sleep onset latency also improved. However, specific improvement levels were unobtainable given the wide range of ways the reviewed studies’ authors gauged progress.

“PCPs should use these findings to discuss the importance of timing their baths. The body temperature naturally starts to decline according to its circadian cycle about 1 to 2 hours before the usual time of going to sleep,” Haghayegh said in the interview.

“Taking a warm bath or shower during this time span augments the natural biological process of sleep induction, but taking the warm bath or shower too earlier may induce the feeling of sleepiness but be ineffective in actually inducing sleep and taking the warm bath or shower too close to bedtime may too late to be effective and may even disrupt the natural circadian processes controlling sleep induction and maintenance,” he added. – by Janel Miller

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.