If you have trouble getting to sleep, try taking a warm shower before you turn in for the night. Apart from the relaxation benefits, you can trick your body into sleepy mode, by taking advantage of the way temperature affects circadian rhythms, your in-built 24 hour clock. This tip is also great when you’re hot and bothered, and the heat of the night is keeping you awake .
How does a shower help me get to sleep?
1) It lowers your core body temperature
A recent study showed that body temperature helps keep your internal clock in sync. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that a light sensitive area of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) acts as the ‘master clock’. When night approaches, the SCN sends out neural signals to lower your core temperature.
Although a warm shower will temporarily raise your temperature, once you step out of the steamy bathroom into a cooler bedroom your body temperature will drop. This, in turn prepares the body for other physiological changes in preparation for sleep, such as melatonin production. Study author Dr. Joseph Takahashi, explained,
“Small changes in body temperature can send a powerful signal to the clocks in our bodies,” “It takes only a small change in internal body temperature to synchronize cellular ‘clocks’ throughout the body.”
2) It relaxes the body and mind
A warm shower is a great way to unwind after a busy or stressful day. The warm water relaxes your joints and muscles by causing your blood vessels to dilate. This improves your circulation, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow throughout your body. Warms showers are great for stiff necks and shoulder pain. Try doing some gentle neck and shoulder rolls whilst in the shower to further loosen the muscles.
Not too hot or cold
If your shower is too hot, you run the risk of raising your temperature too high, which in turn will speed up your metabolism instead of slowing it down. Cold showers before bedtime are not a good idea either. Whilst having lots of positive health benefits, your body will try to raise it’s core temperature following the shock of the cold water.
Photo by PhotoAtelier
Jeff is the founder and editor-in-chief at Sleep Junkies . A passionate sleep advocate, he started the site in 2012, reaching millions of readers across the globe. Jeff also runs the product curation platform SleepGadgets.io . He is often asked to speak at about current trends in consumer sleep technology at various events.