Periodically, I have trouble sleeping.
The reason for this is a certain three-year-old boy. I’ve vented about the challenges of having a hard sleeper before. My son’s sleep is better than it used to be, but on a typical day, he still wakes and gets out of bed two or three times between his bedtime at 6:30 and my bedtime at 11:00 pm.
Once I’m asleep, all bets are off, and so most of the time I wake up at 2 am with 35 pounds of boy having crawled into my bed and now sleeping happily on top of my neck.
As you might imagine, I am willing to try most anything to promote restfulness and sound sleeping in my son and myself. This bath soak is my latest effort, and it’s so nice I had to share.
The thing that makes this a bit different than your typical Epson Salt-based Bath Soak is the addition of liquid melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. It is available in the U.S. as an over-the-counter supplement, and is generally considered safe. International travelers swear by melatonin to help manage jet lag and night-shift workers use it realign their circadian rhythm to their job requirements.
Although you can find melatonin supplements targeted at kids, I have been very wary of attempting to manage my son’s sleep (or lack thereof) that way. But when I learned that melatonin could be absorbed through the skin, I realized I might be able to take advantage of the sleep-promoting properties of melatonin at a super low-dose through a relaxing bath soak.
The result is this calming mix of essential oils, liquid melatonin, Epsom salts and baking soda.
The Epsom salts and baking soda form the base of this mix, and the liquid melatonin combined with lavender and chamomile essential oils make this soak extra relaxing.
This bath soak starts with 4 cups Epsom salts and 1 cup baking soda.
Add in a few droppers worth of liquid melatonin (I used 3 droppers, or 9 mg worth of melatonin for the brand I used). I deliberately kept the overall melatonin level dilute in my mix – less than .5 mg of liquid melatonin per 1/2 cup of bath soak. Check the brand of liquid melatonin you are using for dosage, figure 1/2 of bath soak mixture per bath, and use as much melatonin as is appropriate for your situation. If you are you are concerned about using this supplement, you can also skip this part entirely.
The amount of melatonin I used may not be appropriate for you and your situation. Please, use your own best judgement. Nothing in this post should in any way be construed as medical advice. I have to put stuff like this in italics because some people are painfully dumb. Sorry about that, it can’t be helped.
Scent your bath soak mix with 20-30 drops of lavender essential oils and a few drops of chamomile essential oil. If you want, at this point you can also use a few drops of food coloring to tint your bath soak. I opted to leave mine white.
Assign a super-awake helper to mix everything together. Look how focused my little dude is. I love that.
When your Relaxing Bed Time Bath Soak is well mixed and uniform, transfer it to a pretty jar with a tight fitting lid. To use, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the bath soak mix and add it to a hot bath. Soak for 20-40 minutes, just before going to bed.
Lovely–it’s like a bath bomb without the fizz (and the futsy forming of balls). Oh, and without the messy oil that leaves a ring on the bathtub–I leave that out of most of my bath bombs lately.
Just a relaxing bath. So, does it help him sleep?
It seems too! He falls asleep far more easily (20 minutes instead of 60+) on bath nights and we get fewer early-evening re-wakes. But he’s still crawling into my bed at 2-3 AM. Baby steps! 🙂
Awesome! Might have to try this with our 2 1/2 year old! He’s in a learning spurt right now and has a lot of trouble slowing down at the end of the day.
Sounds great and he looks like a total love bug (but I realize the inconvenience of the 2 AM wake-ups as we used to have a dog who did this). I’ve been living on epsom salt baths the last several stressful years and I can remember how happy I was when I actually was able to finally nod off a bit after several days, while I was in the tub! I’ve learned that those of us who are post menopausal tend to be lacking magnesium (and who knows who else is too, with the food system/poor soil fertility we have these days). Here’s to better sleep!
I have never heard of liquid melatonin before–super interesting. I tend to just keep some epsom salts and essential oils unmixed and add the ingredients themselves to my baths, but this sounds a lot more convenient.
Homebrew Husband says
As part of the Northwest Edible RTD&E (Research, Testing, Development, and Evaluation) team, I can tell you: THIS WORKS. I’ve used melatonin and 5-HTP supplements a lot to help manage sleep, both while traveling and just while dealing with the adventures of a busy life. This is at least as good as anything else I’ve tried, and I think the combination of the melatonin with the enforced calm of a bath and the muscle relaxant of the epsom salts really makes for a good effect. Just make sure you don’t plan to be up for long…
Elizabeth F says
Sounds very nice. But my question is, and I do have a number of children so I have been through things like this, but why does he go to bed so early? If it had been taking him 60 min to fall asleep why not put to bed at 7:30 instead? Maybe his stomach is still trying to digest his dinner. Is he missing all the after dinner family activity? Just thinking …But I am glad you have found a solution that is working for you and making it better.
Homebrew Husband says
Actually bumping his bedtime UP ended up being a huge part of getting him to bed. There’s a window – 6:00-6:30 where he’s tired but not yet over tired. If we let him go much later than that, he gets amped up and we’re a lot more likely to get sucked into some sort of hellish bedtime drama. The “run him till he’s exhausted” approach doesn’t seem to work so well with this one. It also really helps us grownps to have a little bit of adult time in the evening before we are all ready to collapse ourselves!
I’ll also point out he does not nap, has never napped and will not nap. So when he goes to bed at 6:30 pm, he’s been up, give or take, 12 hours straight.
When possible, we put our 3yo (nearly 4) to bed at 6:30, too. We’ve found he sleeps longer, rather than shorter, and wakes up less. The sleep begets sleep thing reigns true in our house.
I hate baths (I get cold quickly), but this post actually made me want to take one!
Here’s to more Zzzzzs for you!
Carolyne Thrasher says
Our now 7 yo didn’t sleep through the night until he started kindergarten. Our now 4 yo is now coming in to our room 5 out of 7 nights per week. My understanding is that this is quite normal and parents whose kids sleep through the night before 5 are typically unaware of their awakening because they may not get out of bed. Children’s sleep cycles are naturally much shorter than ours because in order for rapid brain development to occur they need more sleep/wake turns. We do use melatonin with the the 4 yo because she will manage to stay up past 11 pm no matter what. We tried all the suggested sleep routines, etc. I’m reading a really interesting book called “Herbal Antivirals, Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections” by Stephen Harrod Buhner. I’m not a fan of throwing out modern medicine for herbals but I do favor a hybrid approach to healthcare and I’m a medical transcriptionist so I can geek out on the medical lingo. Anyways, his #1 go to herbal remedy in this book is Elderberry which he says also happens to be high in melatonin. I understand that sour cherries are also high in melatonin. If you don’t want to give or take supplements you could try an even more natural option.
Hmmm….I grow Elderberries. Interesting, thanks!
Carolyne Thrasher says
Now I can’t find the reference I was thinking of in the book for elderberry and melatonin. He was referring to chinese skullcap which he included in some recipes for flu treatments. Sour cherries for sure though. And in general elderberry is a huge immune booster.
Thank you for this post. My husband and I just began using a Magnesium oil spray (Magnesium chloride) in the evenings to promote more restful sleep. He works odd hours at the hospital and sometimes has a hard time getting his sleeping rhythms in balance. I’ve noticed a moderate difference in the quality of my sleep since we started using the spray last month, and I’m excited to see how it continues to improve over time. We don’t use Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulfate) very often at all, but I remember when I was an athlete using it for foot soaks and leg soaks after competition to help my body heal and to promote good rest. Too bad I forgot about it again for a decade before beginning to use it again! Has this helped your little guy out with sleeping through the might better so far?
Oh my goodness, he’s such a cute helper!
“Nothing in this post should in any way be construed as medical advice. I have to put stuff like this in italics because some people are painfully dumb. Sorry about that, it can’t be helped.”
Thank you for the laugh! (Glad you aren’t trying to fix all the dumb people out there.) And I’m glad you’ve found something that helps. Sleep is SO necessary. It’s way not fun to go along without it for extended periods.
Isn’t there some concern about Lavender and male hormones? Did I read that somewhere?