Everyone knows that carving out an hour of your day to soak yourself into oblivion (and your fingers into prunes) is a great way to unwind, but did you know that—done regularly—it could help treat depression and insomnia?
A recent study suggests taking a hot bath each day is a better treatment for these conditions than exercise. And while neither depression nor insomnia can be 100% solved by jumping in a hot tub—it can definitely ease some of the symptoms.
So who do you have to thank for tonight’s fragrantly scented bliss? Researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany, who conducted a study on 45 people struggling with depression.
Split into two groups, half the participants were told to soak in 104-degree water for half an hour every day, while the second group was instructed to do 40 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a week.
Eight weeks into the experiment the researchers tested the volunteers’ moods on a ‘depression scale’. Those who had taking daily baths were (on average) six points ‘less depressed’ than they were before the experiment began, while the group that had been exercising twice a week were (on average) three points “less depressed.”
“The conclusion: baths were the more effective mood booster,” (Travel + Leisure).
So what do baths have that Anytime Fitness doesn’t? The scientists reckon it’s the effect they have on your circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock), which controls the functioning of your organs via temperature regulation.
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As reported by Travel + Leisure, “Those battling depression often have a disrupted… circadian rhythm (which is why insomnia is a common symptom of the condition). By regularly increasing participants’ body temperatures, the researchers believe they were able to improve their circadian rhythms—and in turn alleviate some of their depression symptoms.”
“Morning exposure to bright light has also been shown to influence circadian rhythms and alleviate depression.”
So although this was a small study, and more research is needed before you go out and buy a liquid-marble throne: there’s no harm in running a few extra baths if you’ve already got one…