When I say the word “bath,” the first image that enters your head is likely of someone relaxing in a tub before bed, with candles burning around them and maybe even a glass of wine in their hand. It’s a pretty relaxing image, and a bath before bed has become a go-to evening ritual for many of us.
But I would argue that the evening is actually the worst time of day to take a bath — that it would be more beneficial if more of us were starting our day with a soak in the tub, instead.
Before you go saying the morning bath is inconvenient, crazy, or weird, hear me out. There’s some pretty solid reasoning behind why we should all be giving the morning bath a fair shot.
How you start your day matters
Over the years, research has made very clear that how we start our day matters to both our mental and physical health. In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg says that what you do in the first hour of the day sets the trajectory for the rest of it. For example, he explains that “making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” The same applies to habits like hitting the gym first thing in the morning. But instead of these more “productive habits,” what if we used that first hour of the day to soak, relax, and show ourselves some love? To me, that sends a pretty strong message that I’m prioritizing relaxation and being present in the moment.
Morning anxiety is a thing — and baths can help
Prioritizing relaxation first thing in the morning is particularly important if you experience morning anxiety, which is actually much more common than you might think. As it turns out, our stress hormone cortisol spikes in the a.m. to help us get up and out of bed. In fact, scientists have studied this phenomenon, called the cortisol waking response, and found that cortisol levels are the highest in the first hour of waking for those that have high stress levels. Luckily, relaxing exercises like a bath can help keep cortisol in check — especially if we add other stress-relieving ingredients, like magnesium salts or lavender essential oil, to our bath routine.
A morning bath — *practically* — doubles as a workout
A study published in the journal Temperature showed that a bath burns about 140 calories per hour. The results also revealed that — much like a workout — a bath led to a lower spike in blood sugar after the participants ate. The author concluded that baths could be a possible “alternative treatment and management strategy for those at risk of developing metabolic disease.” If you’re just not feeling that morning run or HIIT workout, a bath might provide similar benefits.
A bath in the morning may help you sleep at night
Many of us take baths in the evening to help us get to sleep more quickly. But I would argue that it’s not just the last hour of the day we should be focusing on; in fact, I would say that the stress we experience throughout the day is probably more to blame for keeping us up at night. When we take a bath in the morning, it set the trajectory for a more relaxed day. In fact, research from the University of Oregan even found that regularly taking baths can reduce blood pressure.
If you wake up sore, a morning bath can help
If you’ve ever woken up the morning after a tough workout barely able to walk, you’ve experienced delayed onset muscle soreness. This soreness can range from mild to pretty severe and can definitely be bad enough that another workout seems impossible. Luckily, heat therapy is one of the most common and effective treatments for muscle soreness — and one study showed that moist heat penetrates deep tissue faster than dry heat. If you wake up feeling stiff, sore and tight, a bath might be just what the doctor ordered.
As you can see, there’s a pretty solid argument for establishing a morning bath ritual. But you don’t have to take it from me. Try it out and experience the benefits for yourself.
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