Biomedical Engineers Link Warm Baths to Better Sleep

Taking a hot bath may seem like a weekend luxury in our overstressed world, but research shows making this a regular part of your daily routine can vastly improve the quality of your sleep.
Dana  Miller

Who knew that "getting into hot water" doesn't always spell trouble? In our hyperextended and overtired world, something as natural and basic as sleep can seem like the ultimate in self-care. Bioengineers from the University of Texas at Austin have utilized systematic review protocols to develop data about how we can all fall asleep faster, and get better rest once there. 

Water-based passive body heating

UT researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering, with helpful collaboration from their UT neighbors at the Houston Health Science Center and the University of Southern California, examined a total of 5,322 studies regarding water-based passive body heating as it regards a wide range of sleep-quality components--such as total sleep time, sleep onset latency, and sleep efficiency.


As it turns out, your bathtub is your new best friend when it comes to getting your best sleep. The conclusions of this study reveal that a bath of a temperature between 104-109 degrees Fahrenheit about 90 minutes before bed can dramatically improve the depth and efficiency of your total sleep time, as well as shorten the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. 

With our digital lives becoming more and more defined by round-the-clock productivity, these findings offer more than a simple life hack for the overscheduled among us. The connection between proper sleep and productivity has long been scientifically established, and can be controllably manipulated through greater understanding of the body's circadian rhythms, which are addressed in a new way through this study. 

In pinpointing the precise timeframe in which it is most beneficial for us to dynamize our thermoregulatory systems in order to have our core temperatures cooled appropriately for optimal sleep, these researchers have given us a highly useful, non-pharmaceutical method for manipulating our own interior body cycles to best fit our modern needs. 

New plans underway

Plans are now in place to utilize these findings in conjunction with UT's Office of Technology Commercialization in order to develop a bed that would use the Selective Thermal Stimulation technology patented by the university. Such a bed would allow for the most advantageous personal manipulation of body temperature for a given sleeper and allow that sleeper to essentially direct his or her own sleep rhythms throughout the night. 

Find out more about the science of sleep and how it relates to other important aspects of your life by watching this video.

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