Oprah Winfrey swears by the power of a bedtime bath as a way to de-stress and get ready for sleep. Well, if it’s good enough for Mother Oprah, the queen of daytime and Super Soul Sundays, one woman empire and potential future president of the United States, then it’s sure good enough for you and me. But what makes the perfect bath? Well read on below and I’ll tell you. But first…
Why is a bedtime bath good for sleep?
Before we get into how to have the perfect bedtime bath let’s just cover quickly exactly why a pre-bed soak is my favorite way to get ready for bed. It’s all about heat but not in the way you may imagine 😉
Researchers have found that your brain needs to drop its temperature slightly in order to sleep. That’s why it is easier to fall asleep in a room that’s too cold rather than one that’s too hot. Being cooler will not only help induce sleep quicker it will also promote better deep non-REM sleep.
What has this got to do with a bath, that’s typically hot, not cold? Well, when you have a soak in a nice hot bath, capillaries expand and your blood rushes to the skin, a process referred to as vasodilation. Hence the rosy cheeks!
(Special consideration: if you have rosacea, spider or varicose veins, or another circulatory or known health issue, be sure to use tepid water in your bath and/or consult with your licensed health practitioner!)
When you then step out of the warm water, this heat is rapidly transferred to the air around you, and you experience a massive thermal dump. Your core temperature drops, and it’s this rapid cooling effect that is so good at helping you get to sleep.
An ice cold shower would have much of the same impact. Let’s face it though, a soak in soothing bath salts with herbs and essential oils is more than slightly more appealing.
Ok, now that the science is out of the way let’s move onto what makes a perfect bedtime bath. I’m going to assume you know the basics of how to run a bath, so below I’m going to focus on the things around the edges that you might not have considered. It’s little details like these that will elevate a good bedtime bath to the perfect bedtime bath.
Here are my top 5 tips to create a perfect bedtime bath ritual:
Clear your post-bath schedule
Once bathtime is over, all you want to do is towel yourself off, wrap yourself up in that lovely soft rope and head straight to bed. The easiest way to ruin a pre-bed bath is for it not to be before bed.
If after your soak you still have a heap of chores to do then you are gonna instantly destroy all the good work your bath has done to relax you. So, before you even consider going near those taps, make sure absolutely everything is done for the next day.
Ask for, nay, demand privacy
Nothing will drain the relaxation quicker than assorted family members banging on the bathroom door. Before you head for your soak make sure every single member of the household knows you’re not to be disturbed unless something very important has occurred.
By very important I mean of the level of someone’s bleeding profusely, the dog is on fire, or the cat is stuck in a tree!
If you only have the one bathroom in the house then make sure everyone gets the opportunity to use the facilities before you lock them out. Then, if their tiny bladders still can’t cope, kindly direct them out to the garden.
Create the right ambience
What’s the main difference between your bathroom and a high-end spa? Ambience, that’s what. When you walk into a spa the whole atmosphere oozes relaxation.
If you break it down to the fundamentals however, all these fancy places do is dim the lights a touch, light a few candles and play a little bit of ambient background music. These are three things you are perfectly capable of replicating in your own bathroom, no matter the size!
Invest in few nice scented candles (I prefer either beeswax or soy candles, scented only with essential oils), or if you’re sensitive to candles, an essential oil diffuser and top quality essential oils. Download a nice chillaxing playlist to your phone. And voila! Now you’re in for an instant five star spa experience.
Diffuse some oils
Creating the perfect ambience isn’t just about music and lighting, it is about massaging all the senses, including your sense of smell.
Try diffusing some essential oils. Frankincense and lavender are well known for their relaxing and hypnotic qualities. As you soak deep into your bath let the scent wash over you and transport you to another level of calm.
Try not to fall asleep completely in the bath, however, as that could be a little dangerous! It might be helpful to set a timer for 20 minutes or so.
Remember your refreshment
What we eat can affect how well we sleep. Some foods are sleep blockers, others sleep promoters. I like to enhance my bath time experience with a nice cup of chamomile tea, a well known sleep aid. Or, if I’m in extra need of some comfort I make a cup of golden milk.
Golden milk might sound expensive but it earned its name for its colour not its cost. Made by mixing a heaped teaspoon of turmeric into warm milk, then seasoned with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon for taste.
Not only does the concoction taste delicious, it’s also incredibly comforting. Like a great big bear hug for your insides. And on top of that both turmeric and milk have crazy sleep inducing qualities. Yay!
Golden milk is the perfect bath time treat if you ask me!
Well there you have it, my five step recipe to the perfect bedtime bath.
Clear your schedule, put up the Do Not Disturb sign, get the ambience spot on, get the aromascape right and take on some light, comforting refreshment.
For more great sleep nuggets like this, check out the Sleep Advisor blog.
Have I forgotten anything?
What’s your favorite bedtime bath ritual? Please share in the comments below!
*Do Not Disturb image By Arz [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons