The new night owl versus early bird debate centers not on bedtimes, but on when you take a shower. Where do you fall on the shower at night or in the morning spectrum? It seems as if there are a lot of strong feelings on either side with people who shower at night convinced that it helps them sleep and people who shower in the morning secure in the knowledge that it wakes them up and gets them moving.
Your preference may depend in part on whether or not you’re a morning person. If you need extra sleep in morning, your routine may not include time for a shower, especially when you add in dealing with wet hair. And if you have trouble falling asleep at bedtime, your nighttime process may be helped by a shower.
Most of the science, it seems, falls on the side of the shower at night camp for two main reasons: Cleaning your skin and helping you fall asleep faster.
Dermatologists say that an evening shower is good for your skin because it cleans it before sleep. Basically, there’s always something in the air (dirt, germs, pollution) and the last thing you want to do is leave that on your skin while you go smush yourself into pillows and sheets for eight hours.
If you’re an allergy sufferer, a night shower is best to wash pollen off your skin and hair before you try to go to sleep. Or for the months of March and April, you could just strip down and shower as soon as you walk in the door every evening.
But a shower at night affects your circadian rhythm, too, in good way. Sleep experts note that a nighttime shower changes your body temperature in a way that may help you get to sleep faster and more easily.
Your body temperature tends to be highest during the day, when you’re active. But as bedtime approaches, you start to feel sleepy and your body temperature drops. If you take a warm shower about an hour to 90 minutes before your bedtime, your temperature will rise briefly, then fall more quickly after you get out of the shower. That effect helps you go to sleep faster, so it’s a good trick to try if you have a hard time falling asleep.
Team morning shower has creativity on its side. We all know that the best ideas happen in the shower, and there’s some science to back that up. Dr. Shelley Carson, a psychology lecturer at Harvard, said that because a shower lowers cortisol levels (which lowers stress) while you’re awake and active, your brain is able to think without being pressured which leads to new and creative ideas. If you’re having a stressful week, taking a morning shower might help you be innovative under pressure.
Regardless of the time you prefer to shower, keep your water temperature mild. Experts say that it’s better to use lukewarm water instead of taking a hot shower; steamy showers may feel great, but they also dry out your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Showering twice a day isn’t a problem, either, as long as you keep the showers short. For example, if you’re a night showerer, a quick morning rinse may help jump start your day.
Bottom line is, as long as you shower, the exact time of day isn’t critical. Though if you’re trying to deal with stress at work or get to sleep faster at night, changing the time you shower might help.