Are morning showers better or evening showers? Many of us prefer to go to bed feeling clean, while others like to start their day with a shower. The truth is, when it comes to our hygiene preferences, most of us can be pretty opinionated.
If you’re wondering which is better, science seems to favor evening showers. Sure, it takes more than science to influence our personal preferences, but the reasons scientists support showering at night are quite convincing.
Not only do nightly showers ensure you’re squeaky clean before you enter your bed, research from the European Journal of Sports Science shows that showering at night also makes it easier for you to fall asleep and maintain quality sleep. So the answer is yes, taking a shower or bath before sleep does make you sleepy.
But the opposite can also be true. Taking morning showers can perk you up. Showering is a complex science, and how and when you should shower all comes down to the results you’re after.
How Evening Showers Affect Your Sleep
The benefits of evening showers have a lot to do with how temperature impacts the body’s chemistry. Your body temperature begins to cool as you approach bedtime. As the temperature falls, you feel more tired and drowsy because of a natural decline in your body’s metabolic activity. The cooler your body is, the slower the body does its vital activities, such as pumping blood and breathing.
Your body’s decreasing temperature is one of the primary cues that signal the body that it is time to rest. However, it can be difficult to cool down at night, especially in hot environments, where the air is at or above room temperature (around 72°F). One way you can take control is by taking a nice warm shower. Another is to look at ways to reduce the temperature of your bedroom.
Warm showers help decrease your body’s temperature, particularly when it’s having trouble doing so on its own. As soon as you exit your shower, your body starts to cool down. This helps prompt that tired, sleepy feeling before bedtime because the subsequent drop in the body’s internal temperature slows down metabolic activities, such as digestion, breathing, and heart rate.
Temperature is a universal cue to sleep patterns among mammals. Humans are physically evolved to sleep when it is cold and dark. Not only are nighttime showers incredibly relaxing, but they also mimic the temperature drop your body experiences as you approach bedtime. As soon as you step out of a warm shower, your body begins to cool down, stimulating the release of melatonin – the body’s sleep hormone.
Why You Should Shower Before Going to Bed
If you have trouble falling asleep, taking a warm bath can be beneficial. Adequate sleep comes with many benefits, from reduced stress and increased productivity to improved immune system health and lower risk of disease. Therefore, timing your shower to optimize your sleep can significantly improve your overall health.
People who struggle with insomnia tend to have higher core body temperatures than people who fall asleep at ease. This makes it much harder for people suffering from poor sleep to relax and go to sleep.
A lack of decline in body temperature acts as a signal for the brain that the metabolic pathways in your body are still active, and your body needs to stay awake for them.
Therefore, if you have insomnia or the occasional toss-and-turn, and nothing else has worked for you, consider taking early evening showers.
How Warm Showers Make You Feel More Relaxed
According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, warm water also dilates your blood vessels, causing more blood and oxygen to enter the tensed muscles throughout your body. This releases muscle tension and helps the body enter a deeper stage of relaxation and comfort, signaling the brain that it’s time to prepare for sleep. Taking nighttime showers also lowers the release of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body, allowing you to wind down and fall asleep faster.
A study published in the Journal of Physical Anthropology analyzed the effects of taking a daily shower before bed among nine women. Each participant was assigned to one out of three sleep conditions:
- Going right to sleep after bathing
- Going to sleep after a hot footbath
- Going to bed without either of the above
Results showed that women in the first two groups could fall asleep much faster than participants who didn’t bathe before going to bed. This lead to researchers recommending daily showers and a hot foot bath before going to bed to promote quality sleep.
However, it’s up to you whether you listen to these sleep signals and decide to go to sleep when your body tells you to. Taking a shower at 10:00 pm and having sugar-laden snacks, alcohol, or high-energy drinks isn’t going to help you transition to sleep mode smoothly. Alcohol, sugar, and caffeine can wreak havoc in your biological clock, causing you to stay up late in the night or wake up frequently during your sleep.
Do Hot Showers Put You To Sleep?
You can’t overdo warm showers. Taking extremely hot showers can slow the onset of sleep by increasing your body temperature too much. A steep rise in body temperature can speed up your body’s metabolic activity, making you feel more energetic at night.
Taking long showers is also a recipe for disaster for the same reason, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping. Not to mention, hot and long showers are terrible for your skin and the environment anyway. Hot showers tend to strip all the natural oils off your skin, irritating your protective skin barrier and making it prone to dryness and premature aging. The longer your showers are, the drier your skin will get.
To get the most out of your nighttime bath, be sure to keep water at or below 104°F and limit showering time to 5 to 15 minutes. For best results, try turning the temperature down gradually as you reach the end of your nighttime shower.
What’s the Latest Time I Should Shower to Improve Sleep?
If you can’t sleep after taking a shower, chances are you’re doing something wrong with the timing, temperature, or length of your shower.
To enjoy the sleep-inducing benefits of evening showers, timing is vital. It’s recommended that you take your nighttime shower 90 minutes before going to bed to allow enough time for your body to cool down before you hit the bed.
However, if you’re tossing and turning through the night, a 3 a.m. shower will probably not do much to help you fall asleep. In this case, consider a change in the environment by leaving your room and entering a quiet, dark space. Spend some time here meditating, reading a book, or writing in your journal. As soon as you feel sleepy, return to bed and try going to sleep again.
What Are the Other Benefits of Showering at Night?
In addition to helping you sleep restfully at night, taking showers in the afternoon also comes with other non-sleep related benefits, such as:
Showering at night can also do wonders for your skin, as it removes the sweat, oils, and dirt accumulated throughout the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, washing your face at night helps prevent wrinkles, eye infections, and acne. Not washing your face before going to sleep leaves dirt, oil, and bacteria on your pillows and sheets. These will continue building up and remain in contact with you night after night until you change them.
Washing your face also helps your moisturizer and other skin treatments penetrate deeper into your skin, making them more effective.
It’s also important that you wash your face before you sleep if you wear makeup to remove harsh chemicals and oils from your skin. Showering during the night is also recommended for people who suffer from eczema or have dry skin.
A Clean Bed
Going under the sheets with all the sweat and grime you’ve picked up throughout the day will require you to wash them more frequently. This leads to more laundry. Showering before going to bed ensures that you can get more use out of your sheets, pillowcases, and pajamas.
An Optimized Morning Routine
While a cold shower in the morning can wake you up, replacing it with just a cold splash of water on your face can help you improve your morning routine. One tempting bonus of taking showers at night and skipping your morning shower is that you free up some time that is otherwise spent on showering and drying your hair.
This extra time can be used to whip up a healthy breakfast, start your day with a morning workout, meditation, watching the sunrise, writing, spending some quality time with your partner, or enjoying a cup of tea with a good book.
Lower Electricity Bills
Some electricity providers offer reduced rates for evening use. Therefore, if your water is heated using electricity, you could be lowering your electricity bills by showering during the night.
Cleans Up If You’re Sweaty All Day or Constantly Exposed to Pollutants
If you work long hours outdoors, you’re going to be sweaty by the end of the day. Working outside also increases your exposure to dust and environmental pollutants. However, even if you’re working in an office, there’s still a high chance you’re exposed to dirt and contaminants on the subway.
The buildup of sweat and oil on your skin and not washing it off before going to bed can lead to severe skin issues. Sweat, oil, and dirt are a notorious combination that clogs your pores and causes unsightly breakouts and blackheads. Showering in the night and exfoliating your skin regularly can help remove this buildup of dirt and oil, freeing your pores and preventing any issues in the future.
Workout in the Evening
If your routine involves working out after work or in the evening hours, you don’t want to go under your clean sheets with a sweaty body. Not only does this make your sheets dirty, but it also increases your risk for acne. Therefore, if you do exercise in the evening, be sure to wash your body at night so that you can go to bed feeling clean and relaxed.
Luxuriously Relaxing Treat
Think you need some special TLC to help your body wind down and prepare for some good sleep? Soaking in an Epsom salt bath infused with lavender essential oil is known to relax tight muscles and send signals to your brain that it’s time to rest.
To maximize your relaxation, try lighting a few candles, playing soft classical music, and grabbing your favorite book during your bath. Skip the alcohol, and consider a caffeine-free herbal tea, such as chamomile tea which can help induce sleep.
When Is It Okay to Take Morning Showers?
If you’re still wondering whether you should shower before or after bed, it helps to determine what your goals are. Like with anything in life, there are pros and cons to both. People who have trouble falling asleep may benefit from showering in the night, however, if you workout in the morning, have trouble waking up, have oily skin or take part in highly creative activities, you may benefit more from taking a morning shower.
It all boils down to what your lifestyle looks like and what you want to get out of your showers. Think you can benefit more from morning showers? Here are some proven benefits of showering in the morning.
Morning Showers Boost Your Creativity
Taking a shower is similar to meditation. It helps induce a more relaxed yet alert alpha brainwave state. This makes morning showers a perfect incubation period to get your creative juices flowing.
Have you noticed you get some of your best ideas while showering? This is so common that companies are now creating waterproof notepads that you can use while you shower. It’s common for solutions to problems or new ideas that you’ve been struggling to get a hold of to appear out of nowhere while you’re showering. This is mainly because of the uniquely relaxed and alert state of mind you reach as the water hits your body.
Wake You Up
The benefits of nighttime showers do not easily sway most people who swear by morning showers because it helps wake them up. When you take a cold shower in the morning, your body has to wake up and work to bring your core temperature back to normal. This jumpstarts your metabolism and makes you more alert.
However, taking cold showers in the morning can be difficult. Therefore, we recommend gradually turning down the temperature of your water and ending with a few minutes of cold before you’re done.
Good to Shave in the Morning
It’s ideal to shave in the morning because this is the time when your body has a surge of platelets (blood clotting fragments). Furthermore, because you’re not as tired as you are during the night, you’re also less likely to cut yourself when you shave in the morning.
Workout in the Morning
Unless you’re having trouble sleeping at night, it doesn’t make much sense to shower in the night, only to get out of bed, exercise, and shower again. If you enjoy exercising in the morning, a quick shower following your workout can elevate your alertness even further and help you start your day feeling fresher and more positive.
Sweat a Lot During the Night
Humans tend to sweat in the night, some more than others. When you wake up in the morning feeling sweaty, taking a morning shower can help you freshen up.
How to Make Your Shower More Energizing
Do you find yourself feeling so groggy and lethargic in the morning that you wonder how you’ll be able to power through your day? If you already shower in the morning but still find it challenging to stay up, sleep experts suggest your shower technique may be to blame.
Most of us enjoy taking warm showers in the morning, but high water temperatures cause our core temperature to rise and drop immediately as soon as we get out of the shower. This rapid drop in body temperature is characteristic of our bodies preparing to sleep, as it calms our nerves and muscles for bedtime instead of waking us up.
However, there’s a new way of showering that claims to boost your energy without the need for caffeine to get you going throughout the day. We have to admit that the technique, also called a Scottish Shower, is a genius. What’s even better is that it takes only 90 seconds for it to work.
The technique involves drastically changing the temperature of your water every 30 seconds. Start your shower with the coldest water possible, and let it run for just 30 seconds. Next, switch to the hottest temperature you can handle for another 30 seconds and then return to the cold water for the final 30. Also referred to as hot and cold hydrotherapy, this technique is a quick and surefire way of achieving lasting energy for the day.
How it works is pretty simple. The drastic temperature change dilates your capillaries and boosts your blood flow. It also kickstarts your lymphatic system, which is your body’s natural toxin removal system that functions without a pump. Scientists believe that the technique could also improve your immune system and circulation, enhance your ability to burn fat, lose weight, and alleviate symptoms of depression.
Why Not Shower Before Bed and When You Wake Up?
A possible compromise is to shower twice a day, once in the morning and once 90 minutes before bedtime. If you have trouble falling asleep, are always under the sun, or live in warm conditions or a tropical region, taking a warm shower at night can help lower your body temperature and naturally induce sleep without the need for sleep medication.
However, we tend to perspire in the night or have to shower if we work out in the morning, need to feel more awake, or require a fresh start to our day. Showering twice is generally safe for your skin and scalp, as long as your showers are brief and aren’t hot. However, if you have dry skin or severe eczema or dermatitis, you may benefit more from sticking to one shower, particularly at night.
Do you feel showering at night and sleeping more soundly will help you wake up feeling fresher and more productive, or does waking your body up with a cold shower in the morning sound like a better idea? With all the benefits of morning and night showers in mind, it helps to do some trial and error in determining whether a.m. or p.m. showers work best for you.