Whether you sleep like a log or you tend to toss and turn throughout the night, everyone is looking for ways to sleep better. From breathing exercises to journaling, I’ve tried many different sleep hacks to help me fall asleep at night and for me, the simpler tricks are often the most effective.
Case in point, a new sleep ‘hack’ that’s been doing the rounds is so simple, it’s almost silly – showering. Yep, that’s right. Showering or bathing before bed is a guaranteed way to help you fall asleep quicker and improve the duration and quality of your rest.
While this sleep hack might seem as simple as hopping in the shower for a couple of minutes before settling down on the best mattress (opens in new tab), it’s slightly trickier than that. If you shower too close to bedtime, you’ll be up for longer and if the water temperature is too extreme, this can have the same effect.
In this post, we’re looking into the best hacks for showering before bed, including timings, temperatures and benefits.
Showering before bed: hot or cold?
Adding a shower into your nighttime routine has many benefits to your sleep and overall health and wellbeing. But the devil is in the details, and lots of research has been done about the effects of both hot and cold water to help aid and improve sleep. So, which one should you choose?
According to the Sleep Foundation (opens in new tab), researchers have found that taking a hot shower or bath before bed improves sleep as it helps regulate body temperature. Before bed, our core body temperature naturally cools which is what makes us feel sleepy and signals to the brain it's time to rest. Scientists have hypothesised that “immersing the body in warm water aids this natural temperature regulation process” which has been nicknamed the ‘warm bath effect’. So, by having a warm shower before bed, this naturally drops your body temperature and you tend to fall asleep faster.
Hot showers also have a positive impact on the body, with the heat and steam relaxing and restoring muscles and body tension. If you’re feeling sick (which let's face it, who isn't right now?!), the steam of a hot shower can also open the airways and ease nasal congestion. If you tend to feel stressed, warm showers or baths are also said to reduce anxiety and ease migraines, as well as removing toxins and washing off the dirt from the day.
Personally, a cold shower sounds like hell to me but having a chilly soak can actually have many health benefits, especially when done before bed. It's been proven many times that colder temperatures are great for sleep, for example, sleeping in a cold room is better for you to help you drift off quicker and easier. So, what about cold showers?
In cold water, the body will naturally try to warm itself up, which speeds up your metabolism and activates the immune system, says Sleep Advisor (opens in new tab). This has many positive effects, including fighting off infections, stimulating hormones and reducing muscles soreness (athletes and sporty people can probably attest to this). Other benefits of cold showers include tightening skin, reducing hair loss and the drop in core body temperature can result in deeper sleep and you're less likely to wake up throughout the night.
It's worth noting here that whether you choose hot or cold, you should never shower before bed in extreme temperatures, like scalding hot or freezing cold. These high or low levels of temperature spikes your body temperature and shocks the mind and body which results in you staying up longer.
What time should I shower before bed?
Similar to exercising before bed (opens in new tab), it's important to get your timings right if you're going to shower or bathe before bed. Having a shower at least 1-2 hours before bed is most recommended by experts as it will help with the body temperature process which is what helps you fall asleep faster. If you choose a hot shower, this will also warm up your body which is definitely needed during the winter months!