Sleeping in the bathtub is a practice many people avoid, whether the tub is full or not. Other people swear it’s the most relaxing experience, leaving you unsure whether it’s safe to doze off in the tub.
Sleeping in the bathtub can be dangerous if it’s full of water, as it can lead to drowning or hypothermia. This can happen if you don’t wake up for some reason. At best, sleeping in a warm bath is likely to lead to broken sleep, as the water becomes cold or gets into your mouth.
Of course, sleeping in an empty bathtub isn’t dangerous, as the only risk is bruising or aches in your shoulders, back, or neck. However, a warm bath could help you get a better night’s sleep.
Those who take a warm bath/shower before sleeping in their bed sleep more deeply.
Can You Sleep in a Bathtub with Water?
Sleeping in a bathtub of water is never recommended because you could drown.
The best-case scenario is that you’ll be awoken by water getting in your nose. Also, the falling temperature of the water will cause you to wake up, perhaps with hypothermia.
This is unfortunate because a warm bath can be relaxing and induce sleepiness. According to Sleep Medicine Reviews, taking a warm bath 90 minutes before bedtime can prepare you for rest. The bath contributes to a drop in temperature, which causes sleepiness and leads to better sleep.
Unfortunately, two dangers can’t be ignored:
In a full bathtub, there’s a danger that you could drown, which is more likely if the following apply:
- A deep sleeper
- Taken sedatives
- Drank alcohol
Not only do fatigue and intoxicating substances increase your chances of falling asleep, but you’re less likely to awaken if water enters your airways.
Even if you wake up, you may inhale water and experience a coughing fit. If you cough the water out, you may experience negative health effects from having water in your lungs.
Hypothermia is more likely if you’re asleep for a prolonged time, and the risk will be further increased if the room becomes cold.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, swimming in water less than 51 degrees Fahrenheit can even cause professional swimmers to experience hypothermia.
Of course, there’s a big difference between actively swimming in cold water and being inert in cool or cold water. Our internal body temperature lowers when we sleep, and hypothermia can happen quickly.
In water less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes hold in minutes. The speed at which hypothermia takes hold is affected by the temperature of the water and the person’s body mass.
What Happens if You Fall Asleep in the Tub?
Falling asleep in a bathtub or a bed leads to the same physical reactions. The brain and body slow down, and they begin to engage in actions and processes that aid physical and mental recovery.
Sleep is broken down into four stages, each with a unique and necessary purpose. The first three stages are non-REM activity, while the fourth is REM sleep.
When you sleep, every part of your body changes noticeably—your heart rate and breathing slow down, reaching their slowest pace during stage 3.
Your muscles relax, and your body’s energy expenditure drops noticeably, as does your core temperature. Your brain activity changes as you sleep, and your conscious awareness of the world around you drops.
This is strongest in stage 3, which poses the most risk of drowning if you sleep in the tub.
Will You Sleep Better In A Bathtub?
A problem you might face by sleeping in the bathtub, whether full or empty, is a lack of stage 3 deep sleep. Fitful or broken sleep due to discomfort interrupt sleep cycles and leads to frequent waking.
As a result, you’ll be tired and groggy when you wake up. What’s more, if you were sleeping in a full tub, you might have the added discomfort of being cold.
If you sleep in an empty tub, there’s a danger that you’ll wake up in pain due to an improper or awkward position. Of course, if a situation necessitates that you sleep in an empty bath, you’ll have the opportunity to make yourself comfortable. If you don’t, you could experience the following:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
These pains occur due to the pressure that sleeping on a hard surface exerts on certain body parts when we sleep. For example, if you sleep on your side, you’re likely to experience pain in your shoulders or back if you sleep in the tub.
No matter which position you choose, sleeping in the bathtub is likely to be bad for your neck due to the angled way you’ll need to rest your head.
Can You Sleep in the Bathtub?
Technically, it’s possible to sleep in the bathtub safely and comfortably, but it’s not recommended.
For example, the tub is the only place left if you find yourself staying with a friend. Likewise, unforeseen events in your home could make your tub the best option.
Ensure that you’ll be warm enough. According to the Handbook of Clinical Neurology, body temperature and environment are the most important factors for a restful night’s sleep.
This is important if you have a porcelain or ceramic bathtub, which will leech heat from your body. Putting blankets and pillows in the tub will prevent excessive heat loss and serve a secondary purpose: they’ll cushion your body from the hard shell of the tub and make you more comfortable.
If you need to sleep in the empty tub, you may need to adjust your sleeping position. If you have a long bathtub, it’ll be far easier to sleep comfortably and safely when it’s empty. By contrast, if your bathtub is longer than your body or very deep, the risks will rise if it’s full of water.
So, you can sleep in the bathtub, provided it’s empty. Sleeping in an empty tub isn’t dangerous as long as you prevent extreme heat loss by placing an appropriate barrier between your body and the hard shell of the tub. Sleeping in a bathtub of soapy water is far more dangerous.