Environmental temperature has more than one influence on how your body functions. For example, did you know that exposure to extreme temperatures can be a catalyst to improve your health?
As you may have read in previous articles, mitochondria are the energy generators in your cells. When they don’t work properly, your body’s ability to produce energy is impaired. This may affect not only your metabolism but also your immune system and how diseases are triggered and grow.
The key to getting older mitochondria out and creating new ones is called mitochondrial biogenesis. This process is triggered through exposure to extreme temperatures, exercise and intermittent fasting, for example.
Your sleep is also dependent on appropriate temperature regulation. As you sleep your body’s natural internal temperature drops to the lowest level, usually about four hours after falling asleep.
You may take advantage of this function, improve your quality of sleep and your ability to fall asleep, by making a few adjustments in the evening.
Temperature Drop Helps Trigger Sleepiness
Temperature is usually overlooked when you are trying to fall asleep faster or enjoy a better night of sleep. The temperature of your body and of your room are both variables that have an impact on whether you sleep peacefully or wake tired the next day.
Normally, you’ll start to feel tired and sleepy as your body temperature starts to decline.1 If you struggle to fall asleep it may be that your core body temperature is warmer to start. The inability to cool or heat core body temperature efficiently may be one explanation for difficulty falling asleep.2,3
This information supports research suggesting sleeping at a room temperature between 60 to 68 F improves sleep quality.4
However, while a cool room is best for quality sleep through the night, a relaxing warm shower at least 90 minutes before bed may actually improve the amount of deep sleep you achieve, helping you to feel more rested when you wake in the morning.
Researchers are not clear if it is the actual temperature that is critical, or the rate at which temperature drops following the onset of sleep.11
What is known is that late afternoon or early evening passive heating through a warm shower or relaxing bath increases your body temperature. Your body temperature then returns to near normal, but at bedtime it is still slightly higher than if you didn’t take a shower.
This difference continues in the early hours of the night and is positively related to the amount of deep sleep you achieve. Alternatively, if taking a shower or warm bath doesn’t fit your schedule, a warm foot bath may achieve similar results, helping you to fall asleep faster and enjoy a restful night of sleep.12,13
More Benefits to Evening Showers
You may have trouble falling asleep if you do not head to bed as soon as your body temperature begins to drop.
Researchers advise an evening shower may prolong this temperature reduction enough that you have “fluffed the psychological pillow.”14 The trick is not to start too late in the day. Dr. Dianne Augelli, a sleep disorder specialist at NY-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said:15
“You don’t want to heat yourself up right before bed. Cooling down is a signal that tells us we’re supposed to go to sleep.”
Thus, interrupting this process may make falling asleep more difficult. Include washing your face in this routine to help remove dirt or makeup. This may help reduce breakouts, help your face absorb moisturizer more effectively, prevent eye infections from makeup and reduce signs of aging.16
Showering and cleansing your face also keeps your sheets clean, which may affect allergies. One-third of your life is spent between sheets that gather sweat and dead skin cells.
Showering each night helps keep your sheets cleaner.17 Dust mites are attracted to skin cells, which produce droppings that contain allergens associated with allergic reactions. Mary Zeitler, a laundry expert at Whirlpool’s Institute of Home Science, recommends washing sheets once a week to keep dust mites at bay.18
Showering in the evening may even make for an easier morning routine. Although you may find a shower wakes you up, a cold splash of water on your face and a cup of tea may achieve the same results.
The bonus is an extra 20 minutes in the morning you may decide to use to stretch, watch the sunrise, or even sleep a few extra minutes. Evening showers also help you to relax and slow down at the end of the day, reducing anxiety and relaxing your muscles.19
Slow Down at the End of the Day
There are distinct benefits to slowing down and relaxing at the end of the day, not the least of which is that it makes falling asleep easier.
Stress is a significant challenge, often triggering health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and immune mediated illnesses. By incorporating a few relaxation techniques you may reduce the effects of stress, and get a better night of sleep.
You will still need to meet deadlines at work, or handle a stressful personal crisis, but slowing down at the end of the day will help to reduce the amount of cortisol your adrenal glands are pumping out during the day, and help your body to repair some of the damage done by a chronic amount of stress.
Researchers have found that 43 percent of adults suffer from health effects related to increased stress and at least 75 percent of all doctor’s visits are related to health conditions triggered by chronic stress.20 The cost of stress-related diseases and productivity costs American industries over $300 billion annually.
Scientists have long known that psychological stress is also an important factor in illnesses that aren’t immediately life threatening, such as the common cold,21,22 type 2 diabetes, heartburn, nausea and diarrhea, to name just a few.23
Gastrointestinal disorders, challenges to your immune response and disruption to your neuroendocrine systems are all affected by stress.
When you relax, you’ll also experience an improvement in your mood, your memory, creativity and your ability to concentrate.24 Relaxation at the end of a busy day enables you to make a more accurate assessment of your day, celebrate your successes and rejuvenate and prepare for the next day.25
Read more about the benefits of evening showers on Mercola.com.