Taking a hot bath can allow you to relax, recover physically, soothe the tensions accumulated during the day or even warm up. This practice also promotes restorative sleep, while improving the quality of sleep and falling asleep.
What is a hot bath? How can it help us sleep better? In which cases is it contraindicated to take a hot bath? Here are our explanations.
What is a “hot bath”?
Depending on the temperature of the bath water, we distinguish:
- the very cold bath: from 0 to 7°C;
- cold bath: 15 to 17°C;
- the lukewarm bath: from 30 to 37°C;
- the hot bath: from 38 to 39°C;
- the hyperthermic bath, known as Salmanoff: from 39.5 to 42°C.
What are the effects of a hot bath on our body?
Taking a hot bath has multiple beneficial effects for our body.
Relaxation and evacuation of the stress of the day
When we are stressed, our muscles and joints tense up. This tension can lead to:
- headaches ;
- body aches ;
- chronic pain;
The heat of the water makes it possible to:
- relax the muscles;
- reduce the pressure felt throughout the body;
- reduce certain pains;
- facilitate recovery after physical exertion.
Improved heart health
Although hot baths can put unnecessary strain on your heart, especially if you have a pre-existing heart condition, a hot bath does make your heart beat faster and work harder. This can improve blood circulation, with blood becoming less viscous and vessels working better.
In people who have never had heart disease and who are otherwise healthy, a hot bath may:
- lower blood pressure;
- improve heart function.
Improved respiratory function
Being submerged in water up to your chest with your head out can have a good influence on your lung capacity and oxygen consumption. Two factors contribute to this:
- water temperature;
- the pressure exerted by the water on your chest and lungs.
When the water is warm and your heart beats faster, your oxygen uptake can be enhanced and the steam created can clear your sinuses and chest.
Improved gastrointestinal health
The warmth of a hot bath can relieve pain associated with:
- to anal fissures.
Temperature can also cause the sphincter to relax and help wounds heal after surgery.
Although hot baths are not advised immediately after a meal, they improve blood circulation, which can aid digestion in general.
Improvement of the natural childbirth process
Women may, in the early stages of labor, when immersed in a hot bath:
- maximize relaxation;
- minimize pain.
They can then focus on the birth of their baby and the progress of labour. Immersion in water during labor and after the baby is born has no adverse effects on mother and baby.
Improved health of the urinary tract
While regular bathing may pose an increased risk of UTIs, especially for people who suffer from them regularly, warm baths may promote relaxation of the internal urethral sphincter, which:
- reduces pain after surgery;
- speeds up the healing process of an episiotomy or birth-related tear.
Immune system stimulation
Not only does a hot bath facilitate blood circulation, but it also oxygenates it by allowing you to breathe more deeply and more slowly, in particular by taking steam.
Taking a hot bath can then:
- kill certain bacteria;
- improve immunity;
- relieve cold and flu symptoms.
Boost the level of certain happiness hormones
Hot water baths can increase levels of serotonin and endorphin, chemicals produced by the brain and associated with happiness and well-being.
How can a hot bath taken at night help us sleep better?
Taking a bath improves the quality of sleep and falling asleep. Indeed, researchers from the University of Texas, in the United States, have shown that taking a hot bath, at a temperature ranging from 40 to 42.5?°C, 90 minutes before going to bed:
- accelerates the speed of falling asleep by an average of 10 minutes;
- significantly improves the quality of sleep.
This effect could be explained by the fact that taking a hot bath stimulates blood circulation. Indeed, our body temperature varies during the day by:
- increasing slightly in late afternoon and early evening;
- falling during sleep, reaching its lowest level between the middle and the end of the nocturnal sleep period;
- rising at the end of sleep, acting as a sort of biological wake-up signal.
Also, taking a hot bath in the evening would stimulate the body’s thermoregulatory system, increasing our blood circulation from the heart to the hands and feet, which leads to efficient heat elimination and a drop in body temperature, thus promoting health. falling asleep and deep, restorative sleep.
In which cases is it contraindicated to take a hot bath?
Hot baths are not recommended for people:
- coronary insufficiency;
- prone to phlebitis;
- suffering from varicose veins, varicose ulcers, edema or acute hemorrhoids.