Slip into a Bath to Slip into Slumber
By Shannon Bachorick, RA, CAHP®-AM
September is around the corner, bringing with it the end of summer. As much as we love carefree holidays and staying up late visiting, many of us look forward to having a routine. It is also time to get ready for back-to-school activities and convince kids that they need to go to bed earlier. Not always an easy task! With the hustle and bustle of this time of year, you may find it hard to calm down enough at night to fall asleep easily. One tool you can use to help start to feel sleepy is a warm, aromatic bath.
Have you ever questioned how a hot bath can make you sleepy rather than warm you up like you would for a workout? Instead of heating yourself up from the inside out, like during exercise, a hot bath or shower produces what is called water-based passive body heating. Studies show that by taking a shower or bath with a water temperature of 40°C to 42.5°C for as little as 10 minutes, 1 to 2 hours before bedtime, enabled people to fall asleep more quickly and improved sleep quality and efficiency. When the body's thermoregulatory system is stimulated by the hot water, heat is drawn from the core of the body out to the peripheral extremities, resulting in the lowered core body temperature needed for better sleep.
To ensure slumber success, adding sedating essential oils to your bath water will do the trick. Jane Buckle cites several studies in Clinical Aromatherapy, Essential Oils in Healthcare on how the essential oils of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), mandarin (Citrus reticulata), sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and clary sage (Salvia sclarea) can be helpful with insomnia patients. Keep in mind that essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil, liquid soap or bubble bath before being added to bath water. Add the oil and carrier blend once the bath water has been drawn as you will lose your essential oils to evaporation if added to hot running water.
A favourite sleep blend of mine includes bergamot (Citrus bergamia), cape chamomile (Eriocephalus punctualatus), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) and vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides). I will leave it up to you to decide how much of each oil you would like to use as you might like the scent of one oil to be more pronounced than others. Creating a master blend at a 5% dilution that you can easily add to your bath will simplify bath time and have you off to la-la land in no time.
One final sleep tip from Dr. Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science, is to keep your bedroom temperature at about 17°C, and use a hot water bottle to keep your feet toasty as you fall asleep. Sweet dreams!
About the author: About the author: Shannon Bachorick completed her aromatherapy certification studies in 2016 and went on to become a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional® and Registered Aromatherapist®. She has been on the board of directors of the CFA since 2019 as Research Director and Communications Director. She practises in Regina, Saskatchewan, and is the founder of Santéssence Aromatherapy.
Photo credit: Canva
 Haghayegh S., Khoshnevis S., Smolensky MH, Diller KR, Castriotta RJ. “Before-bedtime passive body heating by warm shower or bath to improve sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Sleep Med Rev. 2019 Aug;46:124-135. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2019.04.008. Epub 2019 Apr 19.