The Power of Steam Showers for Insomnia Relief
Scientists have been concerned about the escalating rise in sleep problems for years, with some researchers considering the issue an emerging epidemic. In fact, up to 30% of adults may experience insomnia, with other adults suffering from insufficient sleep, disrupted sleep, and conditions like sleep apnea.
Sleep deficiency, especially through insomnia, can cause immediate adverse mental effects like mental fog, anxiety, and increased stress. Scientists have also connected sleep deficiencies to obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
There are many different steps people can take to increase the duration and quality of their sleep, including both natural treatments and consulting with a doctor. Science also shows a robust connection between heat treatments and steam exposure to experiencing deeper, more restful sleep.
What causes insomnia?
Insomnia causes sleep disruption by affecting a person's ability to fall and stay asleep. It may manifest as tossing and turning at night. Or it may make insomniacs wake up frequently or wake up early without being able to return to sleep. Others may suffer from extremely light, low-quality sleep in which, even if they sleep several hours, they wake up tired.
There are multiple different potential causes of insomnia. Sometimes, insomnia may be associated with another chronic medical condition you're experiencing.
Acute or short-term insomnia can be caused by disrupted schedules and traumatic events.
Chronic insomnia, a longer-lasting version of the condition, can also be caused by health and life events.
Some of the most common causes are:
- Poor sleeping habits, such as an inconsistent sleep schedule, use of electronics right before bed, and lack of a bedtime routine
- Medications that interfere with sleep quality
- Stimulants such as coffee
- Chronic stress
- Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
- Disruptive schedules that interfere with your body's circadian rhythm
- Not having the proper environmental conditions
That makes steam showers ideal for combatting insomnia.
What is a steam shower?
A steam shower is an enclosed shower stall you can fill with hot, therapeutic steam from a connected steam generator. Steam showers envelop users so the heat can seep deep into your skin and muscles for refreshing relaxation.
Some of the most popular reasons homeowners have steam showers include:
- Better blood circulation and healthier skin
- Muscle relaxation
- Decongestive benefits that assist in easier breathing
- Reduced stress levels
How does heat impact your sleep cycle?
Many people are surprised to learn that their environment, especially their thermal environment, can dramatically affect their sleep quality. Thermoregulation, or the body's regulation of its temperature, significantly impacts the body's sleep mechanics. Controlling your body's temperature can trigger mechanisms in thermoregulation that prepare the body for deeper, better sleep.
How does steam influence sleep?
Steam therapy in a steam shower helps your body to relax. The science goes deeper than the relaxing effect that heat can have on your muscles. Some of the critical ways steam can positively influence your sleep include:
1. Stress Reduction
Chronic and acute stress are pivotal factors in insomnia and poor sleep quality. While cortisol is a crucial hormone for waking up and being alert at the start of the day, cortisol is unhelpful at night, keeping people awake and ready for activity. But spending a session in a steam room or an at-home steam shower can calm the mind and may actually reduce the presence of cortisol.
2. Better Breathing
Light, disrupted, or inconsistent breathing is a common consideration in poor sleep quality. While sleep apnea more acutely disrupts sleep, congestion, and inflammation can be almost as disruptive, pushing sleepers into a very light state of rest.
But steam showers may reduce inflammation and help clear the airways. Steam is also an expectorant, leading to a longer-lasting removal of mucus if an illness or allergies contribute to poor sleep. When coughing, sniffles, and difficulty sleeping are reduced, falling and staying asleep becomes easier.
3. Better Circulation
Better circulation help improves blood flow and oxygen flow throughout your body. It can also aid the body in its thermoregulation efforts, allowing it to create the optimal body temperature for restful sleep. Steam powers this increase in circulation.
4. A Better Mood
Steam is linked to the release of endorphins, which do more than simply reduce stress. They can also significantly improve your mood, making you happier and more at peace. Steam sessions may even aid in releasing endorphins and aldosterone, setting the stage for an easier transition into sleep. If you are anxious, stressed, or sad before bed, a steam shower may elevate your mood and reduce those negative feelings.
5. Reduced Inflammation
One thing that keeps many people awake, especially as they age, is pain. Muscle pain, joint pain, and general inflammation can make it hard to get comfortable and even harder to fall asleep. But taking a restorative sleep shower may reduce inflammation, pain, and stiffness, whether they're caused by day-to-day activity or an intense workout.
How should insomniacs use a steam shower?
To maximize the potential benefits of adding a steam shower to your routine, try steaming a few hours before bed.
Use the shower for approximately twenty minutes to experience the relaxing and refreshing effects, and then spend the next two or so hours powering down for the night.
This will give your body time to cool down and release chemicals like melatonin which will help you sleep soundly.