Bathing can be a relaxing activity that helps adults and children sleep better. Soaking in the tub raises body temperature slightly. When you get out of the tub, the rapid cool down mimics the natural temperature drop the brain triggers as it prepares for sleep:
- A small study found that people who take a warm bath before bed fall asleep more quickly, and experience significant increases in sleepiness at bedtime, slow wave sleep, and stage 4 sleep.
- An NCBI study found that a bath before sleep enhances the quality of sleep in young children. During the first three hours of sleep, body movements were less frequent.
A bath should be taken about 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime. However, parents should be aware that not all kids are calmed by a bath before bedtime. Some children become more awake than sleepy. You know your child, so "test the waters" to see how baths affect them.
January is National Bath Safety Month. Now is the perfect time to review safety tips and to consider using beneficial bath additives to this calming and sleep-inducing activity.
Tips for Adults
While we may not think we need to be reminded of safety rules – after all, we've been bathing successfully for years – there is no harm in being conscious of, and minimizing the risks of, slipping and falling, especially as we get older. Grab handles should be installed, as towel racks and sliding glass door handles aren't meant to steady people. Non-slip mats are a must for exiting the shower to minimize the risk of slipping on a wet floor. All toiletries should be kept within arm's reach, and hallways that lead to the bathroom should be well lit.
Tips for Parents With Young Children
Children ages 4 and under should always have a caregiver present when they are near water, including the bath tub. Affix a slip-resistant plastic mat that suctions to the bottom of the tub and make sure there is a non-slip mat outside of the tub. A grab bar is great for kids as well as adults, so remind them to use it and not the towel rack or door handle. Always fill the tub with water before placing your child in the water, checking to be sure it isn't too hot or too cold. Make sure bath toys do not have hard edges or points that could be hazardous.
Epsom Salt for All Ages
I recommend adding Epsom salt to a bath. It improves relaxation and sleep when used in baths, according to the Epsom Salt Council. Natural-Homeremedies.org states that stress can lead to reduced magnesium levels in the blood, resulting in the production of adrenalin, which makes one feel more alert. The magnesium in Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and binds with serotonin in the brain, facilitating relaxation. Epsom salt also has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, flush out toxins, soften skin, and strengthen the immune system.
When adding Epsom salt to a warm bath, follow these guidelines. For people:
- 100 lbs. and up, add 2 cups or more
- 60 lbs. to 100 lbs., add 1 cup
- under 60 lbs., add 1/2 cup
Essential Oils for All Ages
High-quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils are also beneficial in the bath. To create a blissful bath ritual with calming and relaxing effects, add essential oils like lavender, roman chamomile, vetiver, peppermint, cedarwood, marjoram or onguard. For people:
- 100 lbs. and up, add approximately 10 drops
- 60 lbs. to 100 lbs., add 6 drops
- under 60 lbs. and over 2 years old, add 4 drops
It's also time to celebrate the Festival of Sleep Day – January 3rd. It was created by and for people who want to focus on getting extra sleep after the busy holiday season. While Festival of Sleep Day isn't an "official" holiday, like National Bath Safety month, it reminds us of the importance of taking care of our bodies and our health.