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How to enjoy a good night’s sleep
You know sleep is important.
But………..you don’t seem to be able to fall asleep. The tossing and turning is both frustrating and frightening.
- Frustrating because you’re trying hard.
- Frightening because, well the longer you take to fall asleep, the less sleep you’re getting.
So what can you do, to hasten your trip to dreamland ?
Heading to dreamland quickly
Well there is the obvious stuff
- Watch your afternoon/evening intake of caffeine
- Turn off those electronic devices, so you minimize blue light exposure
- Boot the dog and other noise generators out of the bedroom, if you can, or wear ear plugs
- Have a hot bath.
Yup it does work, especially if one of the reasons you’re struggling to fall asleep, is because your feet are cold.
Cold feet stop sleep
Cold feet in winter, is a common problem, especially if your bedroom is not centrally heated. A phenomenon that is rather common in Japan. A typical Japanese bedroom is somewhere between 2 to 14°C on a winter’s night.
This is great for a good night’s sleep, because cooler temperatures facilitate sleeping.
And burn FAT ! Yah !
But, these cooler temperatures are a problem, if you’re trying to get to sleep.
This is where hot baths come in.
Bathing before bed
Is a Japanese tradition.
80 % of Japanese people take a soak in a hot tub, prior to retiring.
But, dipping your whole body, in hot water late at night, is not always practical and can sometimes be dangerous. Especially for the frail, the disabled or bed ridden patients .
Japanese researchers have found, you don’t actually have to dip all of you in the hot water, to get the benefit, just dipping your knees and toes in hot water, has the same effect.
Actually, the knees and toes option is slightly better.
Bedtime on a cold winter’s night
A typical Japanese winter bedroom was “created” in a lab, and the temperature dial was set to 10°C, with the relative humidity set at 50 %. The team arranged for 9 healthy “young” ladies, to spend a total of 5 consecutive nights in this bedroom.
The first two nights were just to get used to sleeping in the lab.
Let’s face it, sleeping in a different bed always takes a little adjusting and sleeping with wires dangling everywhere, is even more challenging, so two practice nights were good design elements.
The last three nights, of the sleep over, they experienced one of three scenarios, in random order.
- On one occasion, they enjoyed a full body soak in the tub
- On one occasion, they dangled their feet up to their knees in hot water
- On one occasion, they did not bath
The sleep over began at 7.30 pm.
It started with a standard dinner, once dinner was over, the participants got wired up.
They headed for “bed” at 21.50 pm. But before hopping into bed, they took their “bath”
Taking a bath
The full body soak lasted 20 minutes and the water temperature was 40°C. The knees and toes soak, was a tiny bit longer and a tiny bit hotter, it lasted 30 minutes and the water temperature was set at 42°C.
With the “bathing” over, it was time for bed.
Everyone was expected to be in bed by 22.45 and the lights were turned off at 23.00.
Off to dream land
The quality and quantity of their sleep was monitored using sophisticated machines, in addition to the sleep parameters, their rectal and skin temperature, was monitored at 1 minute intervals.
Not content to rely on a machine’s interpretation of the sleep experience, the ladies were also asked to rate their night, when they work up. They were woken up at 6.00 am.
- How sleepy they currently felt
- How well they felt they had slept
- How easily they had fallen asleep.
So what happened.
The bathers slept better
The machines verified that, on average, the bathers got around 20 min more sleep.
The ladies who dipped their whole body into the bath, showed a 1.0°C rise in their rectal temperature, this did not happen in the foot bathers. Skin temperature was elevated in both groups. The skin temperature effect lasted approx. 2 hours.
And this was where that sleep magic happened.
Warm toes less tossing
The tossing and turning was a lot lower in the bathers, this helped them fall asleep faster.
The knees and toes ladies, actually got the most REM sleep.
In the knees and toes group, the first phase of REM sleep lasted 29.50 ± 8.10 minutes. This is quite a bit longer than what the full body bathers experienced (15.79 ± 13.18 min) and the no bath ladies experienced (16.72 ± 13.00 min).
Warm those toes
The take home message…………
A hot bath, on a cold night, is a sleep aid that works.
It’s a lot safer than sleep meds and probably equally effective.
If circumstances preclude you enjoying a thorough soak, before bed, don’t worry. You can still enjoy the benefits, fill up a bucket of hot water, and wiggle your toes in it for a few minutes.
NOTE : If you have diabetes, be mindful that your ability to “feel” temperature may be impeded, due to nerve damage – make sure the water is not too hot. Burning your feet is not a recipe for a good night’s sleep !
Bad body chemistry ruins your sleep quality, sleeping tablets aren’t able to fix this, they just help you cope a little better by getting a little down time.
Electronic devices spit blue light. Since…………..blue light is something that in nature, is a morning thing, you’re more likely to have trouble falling asleep.
Prayer time is time to be grateful. Researchers have found, people who are more grateful when climbing into bed, are better sleepers.