This past week was very interesting.
Many of you may not know this, but I’ve a spokesperson for Princess Cruise Lines for a few years and helped them develop their Princess Luxury Beds (so you know if you take a cruise on Princess Cruise lines, you’ll get comfortable rest). When they asked me to be the keynote speaker at The Protocol & Diplomacy Education Forum, I obviously said yes.
For those of you unfamiliar with this group, they provide training, information and advice regarding accepted rules of protocol and help develop policy and protocols concerning issues of diplomacy all around the world. So, what does that mean? Well, for example, it means if the Queen of England wants to cruise to Alaska on Princess Cruise Lines, they determine what protocols the cruise line needs to follow in order for it to be a successful trip
As always when I speak, the audience asks great questions. Many are common questions I get asked so often I thought I’d share my answers with you this week. If you seek more ways to help you fall asleep at night, or need some help alleviating pain that keeps you awake, keep reading.
Is there a recommended time to take a warm bath before bed, and how long should it be to experience an effect?
Warm baths have been a well-known remedy for years for many people with insomnia or who have difficulty falling asleep. It’s been hypothesized that a warm bath helps because warm water relaxes the body and possibly because our core body temperature tends to drop after a bath.
Yet, a recent study examining the effectiveness of warm baths before bed explains that a warm bath is also a signal to the pineal gland in our brain to produce melatonin, your sleep hormone, which helps you sleep.
So, then the question that is raised is, when should you take this bath for it to be most effective?
Shahab Haghayegh, a doctoral researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, set out to investigate.
Here is what she discovered after doing a meta-analysis of over 5,000 studies:
The results of the analysis revealed that the best time for taking a shower or a bath is 1–2 hours before going to bed. The duration of the shower or bath does not need to be longer than 10 minutes to experience the benefits.
The warm bath cools the body down by improving the blood circulation from the core of the body to its periphery — that is, to the hands and feet. It appears that this will help improve sleep quality.
If you follow my power down hour, and I hope you are, it looks like you should put a ten minute bath or shower into your power down hour to help improve your sleep!
How do I get rid of the pain (in my knee) before bed?
As we get older, pain becomes more common. In some cases, it could be arthritis, in others, it could be joint pain from injury or overuse. Whatever the cause, pain is pain and we all know that the more sleep deprived you are, the worse your pain feels, and that results in worse sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. To answer the question, I thought I would put together a list of things you can do if you are experiencing pain prior to bed which may help:
- Take a warm to hot bath before bed! Yes, I know you just read about this above, but in the case of pain, it holds true even more. The warm water helps relax muscles and reduces pressure on the knees and joints, which allow the body to be fully supported. It increases circulation and reduces swelling and inflammation.
- Make sure you have a good sleeping position and mattress. The big thing to remember here is to have a little extra support for your area of pain. In this example, let’s look at your knees. If you are a side sleeper, putting a pillow between your legs for extra support is a good idea, and if you are a back sleeper putting one under your knees will help reduce pressure in your back.
- Use a warm or cold pack. Many people find comfort in using heat or cold to reduce swelling and help with pain in a painful area. Twenty minutes of exposure to heat or cold will usually do the trick, about thirty minutes before lights out, while in bed.
- Look at the timing of your medications. Sometimes when you are taking medications they wear off in the middle of the night. Talk with your doctor about when is the best timing for pain medication so that you are able to sleep through the night.
- Weight loss. You knew this one would be in here, right? It’s probably obvious, but less weight on the skeletal frame will certainly help with pain reduction.
- Change a few daily habits:
- stretch regularly, especially before and after exercising
- wear appropriate shoes
- use correct form when lifting weights or exercising
- wear compression wraps
- Get sleep. Remember sleep is healing, and if you’re in pain there is really almost no better medicine than rest.
If you have chronic pain and are looking for better sleep, you may want to check out my sleep course. In this course, I teach you how to get better rest through a series of assignments that help you change your sleep and change your life.
That’s it for this week. I hope you’re staying cool this summer. For tips on sleeping better in the heat, check out my blog post on sleeping through the heatwave.