Switching time of bath yields unexpected benefits

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

December 28, 2003|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

I used to take my bath or shower in the morning before leaving for school or work. I was miserable, especially in the wintertime, when my damp hair sometimes froze.

I have changed to taking my bath at night about an hour before bed. It gives my hair a chance to dry, and I find I sleep very well. Also, I hardly ever come down with colds. I can't believe such a simple switch could have such health benefits.

A hot shower an hour before going to bed can help a person get to sleep. Not only does it help ease stress, but it also warms the body. As the temperature drops during the next hour, melatonin production begins, and the body clock adjusts to "bedtime."

Inadequate sleep can make the immune system less effective, so finding a good method to help you go to sleep has profound health benefits.

My doctor recommended a teaspoon of Metamucil in a glass of water to lower cholesterol. Is this really effective?

Absolutely. Studies of the soluble fiber psyllium (found in Metamucil, Correctol Powder, Serutan, etc.) can lower cholesterol 5 percent to 15 percent. The normal "dose" is 1 teaspoonful of psyllium powder in an 8-ounce glass of water three times daily.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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