Magical Epsom Salt Baths and Sleep
If you’ve worked with me, chances are we’ve discussed baths. But have we discussed Magical Epsom Salt Baths? If not, take heed.
Baths can be a fabulous part of your child’s bedtime routine as a signal to the brain that bed is nigh. But baths can also have another function – one that I was reminded of via some comments on a recent Facebook post of mine.
As a busy mum I’ve fallen into the trap of having showers – they’re quick and easy and I generally only get bothered once during a 10 minute shower (by my kids or the dog). I’d all but forgotten what a good soak in the bath can do. But with Mother’s day coming up, I thought it was the ideal time to reconsider baths again, for adults, but let’s be honest, children aged 18-months and older can benefit from this too.
Baths help us relax
A lot of people agree that there’s nothing like a nice long soak in a warm bath. Within minutes you can feel the tension easing out of stiff muscles and soon your eyes drift shut as your body relaxes. Can you picture it? But wait, there’s one more step that can make that pre-bed bath even more magical, healing even. Epsom salt!
What is Epsom salt?
While it may look like rock salt, Epsom salt is not actually salt as we know it. It is a naturally occurring compound of minerals made up of magnesium and sulphate. It gets its name from the mineral-rich water of a spring in Epsom, England.
Epsom salt has long been known as a natural remedy for a large number of ailments, having many health benefits. Magnesium is a mineral that a number of people are deficient in these days, and it has an important role in the body including regulating the activity of more than three hundred enzymes, reducing inflammation, and helping muscle and nerve function. Sulphates on the other hand help improve nutrient absorption, flush toxins, and help ease headaches, including migraines.
Along with its numerous health benefits, Epsom Salt also has a number of beauty, household and gardening uses. If I went into all its uses, this really would be one ginormous post – so I’m going to focus on the benefits relating to wellbeing and sleep.
You’re soaking in it
Scientific research shows us that both magnesium and sulphate are readily absorbed through the skin. In fact they are absorbed best this way, much more so than ingesting them. This makes soaking in an Epsom salt bath the perfect way to relax and gain the benefits of the minerals at the same time. Let’s look at some of those magical properties and benefits:
EASES STRESS AND RELAXES MIND & BODY
These days it’s easy to get stressed.
Chronic stress and anxiety depletes your body of magnesium, and this in turn can increase your levels of adrenaline. Now adrenaline is important for the fight or flight response, but adrenaline circulating around your body is NOT a calm feeling. It causes panic attacks, the antithesis of relaxing.
Epsom salt helps replenish magnesium levels in the body, helping to balance the playing field.
We know that magnesium helps promote healthy sleep by producing serotonin, the all-important mood-elevating chemical in our brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. And while it’s upping the positives, magnesium also helps reduce the effects of adrenaline, hence decreasing your feelings of irritability. As a mum, I know I’d love to reduce my irritability factor!
By upping the good, and limiting the bad, the absorption of magnesium really does help create that relaxed feeling and promote sleep, and it even keeps those tetchy premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms at bay.
REDUCES PAIN AND INFLAMMATION
If you’ve ever had a bad back or muscle sprain you’ll know that it can be almost impossible to sleep through the constant pain.
A warm bath containing Epsom salt has been known to ease pain and relieve the inflammation at the root of most diseases. This makes it a beneficial natural treatment for sore muscles and it works well for bronchial asthma and headaches, including migraines, too
In addition, it has been known to heal cuts, and reduce the swelling that accompanies sprains and bruises. Yes, it can even reduce the soreness from childbirth – bonus!
HELPS MUSCLE AND NERVE FUNCTION
Leg cramps at night can severely hinder your sleep (and oh the pain!). Drinking more water alone won’t always reduce them.
Studies show that Epsom salt can help regulate your body’s electrolytes, ensuring the proper function of muscles, nerves, and enzymes, effectively stopping those night time cramps.
Magnesium is known to be critical in the proper use of calcium, which serves as a main conductor of the electric impulses in your body. So it can significantly help reduce the symptoms, and improve sleep quality, in people with restless leg syndrome (this is when it feels uncomfortable to keep your legs still, often while trying to lie in bed to get to sleep).
Do you know someone with restless leg syndrome? Get them to try an Epsom salt bath!
How to use Epsom salts
Epsom salts are natural and safe to use, even for young children.
Directions for children:
Follow the directions on the package, or just sprinkle salts in your child’s bath at night and wait until they’re dissolved before letting your child in the tub. The younger your child, the less salts you should use. Use approximately half a cup for children under 6 and a full cup for older kids.
You can offer Epsom salt baths a few times a week or on nights that your child seems particularly wound up and difficult to settle down.
Directions for adults:
Adults can use two cups of salts in their night time bath to soak away toxins and stress. Making this a part of your bedtime routine will help you let go of all the anxieties of your day so you can rest well and start again the next morning refreshed!
Are you as in awe of the magical healing properties of Epsom salt as I am? It creates a relaxed feeling, improves sleep and concentration, reduces pain and inflammation and helps muscles and nerves to function properly. Who wouldn’t want that? And have I said it’s natural?
Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week will help you to sleep, as well as to look better, feel better and gain more energy.
Where to buy Epsom Salts
OK, so you’re hooked on the idea of an epsom salt bath, great! Where’s the best place to buy high grade Epsom salts?
I recommend heading over to Blants NZ (https://www.blants.co.nz/) and checking out their range. Once you’ve set up an account, you can use the code CS20 for a sneaky little 5% off their products (this works for magnesium oil too BTW). And in these uncertain pandemic times, knowing they deliver (and that you’re helping small NZ businesses) may ease your mind as much as the bath itself!
Right, I’m off to take my magical Epsom Salt bath now… Because everyone needs a good night’s sleep!
*Note: While Epsom salts have been proven to be excellent for healing the skin, they can potentially aggravate open sores or wounds. Also, always make sure to check that you are using pure Epsom salt that is not mixed with perfumed or artificially coloured bath salts. If your child has sensitive skin, this may cause some irritation.
Kim is a certified Sleep Sense consultant with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and pharmacology. She is also a Mum who has a strong interest in holistic and natural therapies and truly believes in the healing power of sleep.
You can download her free tips to helping your baby or toddler sleep through the night here. She’d love you to follow her on Facebook or Instagram. And you can sign up to her monthly newsletter to catch the latest blogs, sleep tips and research here.