As if you needed a better excuse for taking a dip in the most indulgent of home remedies…
By Leah Silverman
There’s nothing better than finding out something pleasurable is actually good for you.
So get ready for the best news you’ll hear all day: luxuriating in a long, hot bath actually has health benefits. Our longstanding cultural traditions surrounding bath-time may have clued you in to its subversive powers—the Japanese tradition of bathing, or onsen, for instance, as well as Roman bath-houses, and even Baptisms. So what’s so great about getting into the tub? Here are seven reasons you should run a bath tonight…
1. Baths can elevate your mood
Obviously settling into warm water feels good, but that pleasure happens to have staying power. According to psychologist Neil Morris, who surveyed 80 people, bathing can diminish feelings of depression and pessimism because “Baths give you…a wonderful combination of isolation, quiet, and comfort.” The feelings of closeness we receive from being submerged in warm liquid “gives us connotations of being in the womb, and it is very comforting,” Dr. John Harcup, chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee for the British Spa Foundation, suggests.
Overall, bathing induces feelings of comfort and easiness, and that kind of security allows your mind, and subsequently your body, to relax.
2. They can help you sleep better
The benefits of quality slumber are widely recognised, but how to actually get an effective eight hours remains elusive to many. One enduring theory claims that a colder core body temperature will help induce sleep, which is why some scientists recommend going to bed in a cold room. But a warm bath before bed can yield similar results. At night our body temperatures naturally drop, which signals the production of melatonin—or the sleeping hormone. Soaking in a warm bath will raise your body temperature, and exiting will more rapidly cool it down, thus instigating the production of melatonin, and better preparing you for sleep.
3. A hot bath can help relieve muscle pain
Heat will get your blood moving, which is not only great for circulation (more on that later) but can also help sore or tight muscles to relax. The addition of epsom salts in your warm bath has been proven to help reduce inflammation in your joints caused by arthritis or other muscular diseases. The anti-inflammatory properties of salt baths have also shown to have positive effects on people suffering from metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
4. Baths can make your heart healthy
Taking a regular warm bath can help reduce blood pressure, according to some research. This is significant because reduced blood pressure can help in preventing more serious heart conditions, like heart attack or stroke. By using heat to induce better blood flow and circulation, you’re giving your a body a mini-workout. Which brings us to…
5. They burn calories
Sure, a soak is no match for water aerobics or active hydrotherapy, but a good sweat induced by a hot bath can burn as many calories as going for a run.
6. Baths can relieve cold and flu symptoms
Steam from a hot bath works wonders for stuffy noses and bad coughs. Congestion is caused by inflammation in your nasal passages, and steam gets the blood vessels in your face and nose moving, thus loosening any mucus blockage. A temperate bath can also help your immune system to better fight off viruses.
7. Baths can help soothe irritated skin
While scalding baths can make your skin more irritated, a warm bath—in combination with certain essential oils, like coconut, olive, or lavender, and also oatmeal—can better hydrate and heal dry or irritated skin. Plus, aromatherapy is great for regulating your mood or reducing stress.
How to have the ultimate healing bath…
The water temperature shouldn’t too far exceed your own body temperature. While a hot bath feels great, a warm bath is better for your skin and immune system. Add oils like rose, lavender, calendula, aloe, oil, or coconut and also oatmeal for your skin. Epsom salt is great for your muscles and reducing any chances of infection. Keep part of your body, like your face, out of the water to prevent over-heating. Soak for 10-15 minutes, breathe, relax, enjoy.