At this point, we’re pretty sure if someone paid us to stand under a jet of hot water all day and think about its health benefits, we’d forego the money and do it for free. Studies have already shown that showers can awaken your mind and boost creativity, but research is supporting the idea that a hot shower before bed can also help you fall asleep.
Dr. Dianna Augelli of the Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center has applied studies that support pre-bedtime baths to showering habits as well. There’s some finesse to it, but the bottom line is: Hop in the shower before bed. It’ll help your body cool down and relax.
Key to the whole game is timing. “You don’t want to heat yourself up right before bed,” Dr. Augelli told TIME Health. “Cooling down is a signal that tells us we’re supposed to go to sleep.”
The optimal timing? Ninety minutes before you want to hit the hay. By then, your body can regulate its circadian rhythms—essentially the signals that tell it when to feel alert and when to feel sleepy. Right after the shower, you’ll heat up and feel more alert and active and possibly creative, but as time passes and you begin the cool-down process, your system will feel more primed for rest instead of still feeling warmer and antsier. Plus, you’ll be dry after 90 minutes—no damp pillow.
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