Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep. Other times, I’ll wake up and can’t get back to sleep. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it seems to stick around for a while. Both situations are frustrating, especially when the alarm clock goes off in the morning.
Evidently, I’m not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 132 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders more than one night a week.
I’ve always found that a 20-minute, late-night soak in my hot tub acts as a natural sleep aid and helps me sleep deeper and longer. So, whenever sleep becomes elusive, I take a soak before bed.
There appear to be two theories as to why it might be true.
One notion is that the warm water simply relaxes a person so a transition to sleep is just a natural progression.
Another idea is that when you leave the hot tub, your core temperature cools, which signals to your body that it’s time to sleep.
So, true or false: Does a warm soak really work as a natural sleep aid?
Evidently people in Japan think so. Since many homes don’t have central heating, it’s a common practice to take a hot bath to warm up before bedtime in order to sleep better.
The idea was also tested in a study by the Journal of Physiological Anthropological Applied Human Science. In the study, one group soaked in hot water before bed. Another group soaked their feet in warm footbaths, and a third control group did neither.
The study found that those who soaked in a bath or soaked in a footbath fell asleep faster, moved less during sleep and had higher quality REM sleep.
Honestly, though, only nine people were tested, so you can place trust in the results as you see fit.
Other surveys back up the findings, though. A Gallup poll with 1,000 respondents found that bathing was commonly used as a natural sleep aid. A Consumer Reports survey found that that a warm bath was listed as one of the most common remedies for mild sleep disorders.
As with most things, it comes down to the individual. Will it work for you? It’s pretty easy to find out, so test it yourself. It works for me, and it eliminates the need to get a prescription and take a pill at night.
While looking around, I found that a hot soak isn’t the only way to help you sleep. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where we discuss more natural sleep aids.
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