Did you know that today is Bubble Bath Day? It’s true! A whole day dedicated just to bubble baths. I didn’t end up taking one, but I do love bubble baths. They’re a good way to relax and to get in some leisure reading (with a paperback of course), and they may even help you stress less and sleep better (and deeper). Here are four ways baths may benefit you:
1. A bath may help you sleep due to the change in body heat. In a 2006 study, Horne & Reid tested a group of women in cool and warm water baths and found that a warm bath increased the participants’ sleepiness at bedtime, their slow-wave sleep (which is deep sleep), and their stage 4 sleep (also part of deep sleep) while their REM sleep decreased. Part of the reason for this may be that the temperature of the body naturally drops at night and raising the temperature via a warm bath results in a steeper drop in temperature, thus promoting deeper sleep. Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D. and professor recommends a 20-30 minute bath 2 hours before your bedtime.
2. Adding lavender oil to your bath may aid in deeper sleep. You’ve probably heard of lavender aromatherapy. If you’ve wondered if it has any basis in science, it does, and if you add lavender essential oil to your bubble bath (or it’s already in your bubble bar or liquid bubble bath), you may get better sleep. In a 2005 study by Goal, Kim, & Lao, participants were exposed to lavender oil or a control (distilled water) and assessed over three nights in a sleep lab. Participants exposed to lavender oil had an increase in deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, and reported “higher vigor” the next day. In women, stage 2 sleep, or light sleep, was increased and REM sleep was decreased, while the opposite happened with men. These findings suggest lavender can be used as a mild sedative and to aid both men and women in achieving deep sleep.
3. A bath may reduce muscle tension, helping you relax. According to Paul Ingraham, a science writer and former massage therapist, while a heat pack warms up the skin, a hot bath can warm up the actual muscles. He recommends combining the bath with self massage using a tennis ball trapped between your body and the bottom or back of the tub. If this sounds like it might hurt, remember you’ll be more buoyant in the water and therefore in more control of how much pressure you apply. He also recommends stretching in the bath.
4. If you read in the bath, you may reduce your stress level. Good news for those of us who like to combine a bath and a book: according to research by cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis at the University of Sussex, reading, which can slow the heart rate and reduce muscle tension, also reduces stress. In his study, reading resulted in stress reductions of up to 68%. Dr. Lewis says that “losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation”. How long do you need to read for to relax? According to his research, just 6 minutes of silent reading can reduce your stress level. If you’re not a reader, he also found that listening to music reduced stress by 61%, so it might be worth bringing a radio in the bathroom. Just make sure to keep it far from the water!
If you like bubble baths, stay tuned as I am waiting on the ingredients to make my own bubble bar (also called solid bubble bath) and will be sharing my experience. If you found this post helpful, please pass it on via one of the sharing options below and subscribe to get future blog updates.
An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s PubMed
Nighttime sleep EEG changes following heat in a warm bath on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s PubMed
A better hot bath: Tips for getting the most out of the oldest form of therapy on PainScience.com
Reading ‘can help reduce stress’ on The Telegraph (Note: I wanted to keep the links to things everyone can access but if you want to read the original research and have the means to do so, look up: Dr. David Lewis “Galaxy Stress Research,” Mindlab International, Sussex University (2009).