Tips to fall asleep: Try a warm foot bath for better sleep

Foot bath Take a foot bath for good sleep (Image: Sandhya Raghavan)

It’s been a tough day at work, your eyes are dry from staring at the screen and there are dirty dishes in the sink eagerly waiting for your kind hands. The only thing that can give some succour is the loving embrace of your well-worn bed. Yet 20 minutes in, your eyelids are straining from pressing themselves shut, but there’s no sign of sleep in sight.

If this is you, this is me as well. Anyone who knows me knows that I prioritise my sleep, which explains why I am not quite popular at slumber parties. I rarely get invited even by my closest friends. They’ve seen me doze off as soon as the opening credits of late-night movies roll in. I can’t help it.

Why is sleep important for me?

I have a temperamental constitution, which has to be maintained with proper sleep, caffeination and diet. (So dainty, lol)

If I don’t stick to a strict routine, I end up with migraines, aches and acne. Yes, I do stray from a wholesome diet from time to time, but I make up for it with a proper sleep routine.

But sleep can be elusive. Sometimes, it’s the stress of the impending workday or just random thoughts that don’t die down.

In my days working as a health writer, talking to experts and just generally cruising through the internet, I came across many useful tips (or hacks, if you will) to tackle my sleep problem. Some worked some didn’t. Here’s one that did — a warm foot bath.

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For a good night’s sleep, immerse or wash your feet in warm water. It works. And here’s the science.

How a warm foot bath can help you sleep

The interplay of skin temperature with core temperature (that of the body’s internal organs) is connected to sleep quality, says research.

When peripheral blood vessels (those in your arms, hands, legs and feet) dilate, heat from the core body spreads to the limbs.

A combination of a low core temperature with a higher peripheral temperature (that of your arms and legs) leads to better sleep.

Therefore remedies that increase heat flow to your arms and legs help in decreasing the time between wakefulness and sleep. They also improve the quality of sleep.

When you take a foot bath in warm water (between 40-41O C), the blood vessels in your feet and legs dilate. This directs the heat from your core to your legs.

The peripheral temperature increases against the core temperature and you get good sleep.

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How to take a foot bath

Now we’re talking! If sound sleep is what you need every night, a foot bath is what you need before bedtime. Here’s are some tips to keep in mind.

  • The water temperature should be between 40° C (104°F) and 41° C (105.8°F).
  • You should soak your feet for 20 minutes for best results.
  • Adding drops of lavender or any soothing fragrance into the water is always a plus.
  • Keep a towel close by to wipe your feet when you are done. Wet feet can be slippery (duh!).
  • A foot bath can leave you dizzy due to the changes in blood circulation. So steady yourself before you get up.
  • If you are diabetic or suffer from heart conditions, you could have circulatory problems. So do it only after you get a go-ahead from your doctors or avoid it altogether.

Nothing works like a full-body bath before bedtime for some quality zzzs. But a foot bath is also a good alternative. You could also meditate lightly before bed for some bonus relaxation.