Ditch the shower, turn on the taps and enjoy a lovely, rejuvenating soak. For nearly 4 000 years, bath time has held a special place in our lives, but it’s been dying a slow death since the advent of the shower. Only 1 in 10 of us, has a soak every day, and more than 50% of us never take a dip in the tub.
The benefits of a hot bath are improved health, happiness and even our looks, which is why we think it’s time to get back in the bath.
1. A hot bath can help you get a good night’s sleep
It’s not just an old wives’ tale – Charles Darwin reportedly used baths to cure his insomnia, and new research shows that people who have baths before bed really do fall asleep faster and have better, more restorative sleep.
Sitting in a warm bath raises your temperature slightly, but when you climb out it rapidly returns to normal. The sudden cool down mimics the natural drop in body heat that happens just before you go to sleep, so your brain is tricked into producing melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. To keep your bath hotter for longer, use bubble bath – the foam acts as an insulator and prevents heat loss.
2. A hot bath can cure your pains
Everything from sports injuries and sore feet to chronic conditions like arthritis can be soothed by a bath. Warm water helps to speed up the expulsion of lactic acid, which relaxes pulled muscles and strains. It also increases lymph flow, drawing blood towards the skin surface and away from joints, reducing inflammation.
It’s even been suggested that baths can help manage diabetes — one study showed that diabetics who spent half an hour marinating in the tub could reduce their blood sugar levels by around 13%.
3. More bathing = a happier you
A recent study revealed that people who enjoy a bath regularly feel happier and have better psychological health. After two weeks of having a bath every day, participants reported a drop in pessimistic thoughts and an increase in feelings of contentment and pleasure.
4. It’ll help you breathe a little easier
If your sinuses are blocked, steam from the hot water helps widen your nasal passages and relieve congestion. It also opens up airways and eases a wheezy chest. Adding drops of spearmint essential oil to the bath water will increase its effectiveness even more.
Read more: Try making these DIY aromatherapy bath and shower bombs to turn your bath into a spa experience.
5. A hot bath could even boost your brain
Adding essential oils to your bath water can have loads of positive effects — both physical and mental. Eucalyptus or lavender oil reduces stress, tea tree is great for energising, and lemon oil is an effective mood-lifter.
6. It’s even a great way to banish bloating
Chuck a few cups of Epsom salts in the bath: the magnesium sulphate draws out fluid and may make curves appear flatter. Celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Elle Macpherson reportedly swear by it, and it can increase the amount of magnesium in your blood — useful if you have a deficiency. Just be careful, the process can be dehydrating.
Read more: 15 natural remedies to help you beat bloating before it starts.
7. And finally, relax!
Research from a complementary therapy journal found that soaking in warm water can be better at easing anxiety than medication. The warmth of the bath stimulates circulation and cell movement, and the gentle support of water relieves pressure on internal organs. This encourages the brain to release endorphins, chemicals that make us feel calm and happy — and you don’t even need wine or candles (but they certainly won’t do any harm…).