Are Night Showers or Morning Showers Better for Sleep?

Night showers vs. morning showers: a debate for the ages.

Like clockwork, most of us shower at pretty much the same time every single day.

But there are two kinds of people in this world: those who shower in the morning, and those who shower before going to bed.

Who is right?

With the help of modern research, it’s time to settle this argument once and for all.

Image: girl in bathrobe drinks coffeeThe Benefits of Morning Showers

On the one hand, we have morning showers.

Many people find these a vital part of their daily routine.

Regular morning showers can provide an extra boost of energy if you’re looking to jumpstart your day, which can come in pretty handy if you’re not the biggest morning person.

It actually takes your body a bit of time to warm up after the night, and standing under some nice, hot water is a great way to get your blood flowing again.

Morning showers also come with a couple other hidden benefits – for instance, smoothing out a bad hair day, or giving you time to organize your thoughts before starting off on your bust schedule.

This extra bit of “me-time” can offer a much-needed bit of peace before things start getting hectic!

The Benefits of Night Showers

That said, a BuzzFeed poll found that 64 percent of respondents preferred night showers to morning showers, while only 30 percent said the reverse.

What’s the deal with that?

Well, unfortunately for us morning folks, the night showerers seem to have science on their side.

Night Showers Can Help Your Sleep

For one thing, night showers can have some pretty major benefits when it comes to your sleep.

According to Time magazine, taking a warm shower roughly 90 minutes before going to bed can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

How does this work?

 It all comes down to your body’s core temperature.

Although for the most part, our bodies like to keep things at a pretty stable 98.6º, the exact temperature of our insides actually varies a bit throughout the day.

There are two major dips in temperature levels: a smaller one in the early afternoon, and a bigger one during the night.

In both cases, drops in core temperature go hand-in-hand with drops in energy levels.

Some studies, in fact, have found a link between insomnia and high body temperature at night.

We literally need to “cool down” before we can go to sleep!

But what does all this have to do with nighttime showers?

Well, if you take a warm shower somewhere around an hour and a half before going to bed, you give your body a slight boost in body temperature.

This helps activate you cooling response, so by the time you’re ready to hit the hay, your body will be the right temperature.

But Careful – This Could Backfire!

It’s important to realize, though – night showers can only help if you’re showering long enough before bed.

If you’re coming out of the tub expecting to fall asleep right away, you might be in for a bit of a surprise.

It takes time for your body to finish cooling down – and with your boosted body temperature, you might find yourself tossing and turning for a long time before you’re able to get to sleep!

Now, you might think that cool or cold showers could help you get around this, but unfortunately, that’s actually even worse.

The shock of getting hit with cold water is more likely to wake you up than calm you down!

Bottom line, if you’re going to shower before bed, you need to give yourself the right amount of time.

Image: man with soapy hands in showerNight Showers Can Help With Allergies

Another way night showers can improve you sleep is by helping with seasonal allergies.

Especially during pollen season in March and April, our skin tends to pick up a lot of gunk as we go about our day.

By the time you’re ready to go to bed, you’re practically covered in tiny specks of pollen – and since allergies tend to flare up at night, you might find it difficult to get to sleep.

Taking a quick nighttime shower rinses off the day’s debris, letting you breathe easy as you slip between those sheets.

If your allergies are especially bad, you might even want to consider showering as soon as you get home.

It might not give you 100% of night showering’s benefits, but it can at least get that pollen out of your system!

The Importance of Building Routines

In addition to their more straightforward benefits, both night and morning showering offer some psychological perks, as well.

As it turns out, establishing a regular routine is one of the most important parts of any healthy sleep schedule.

Every day, your body runs through a number of circadian rhythms – roughly 24-hour hormonal cycles that affect everything from your gut to your skin.

One of the most important of these is the sleep/wake cycle, which pulls together a whole cocktail of potent biochemicals to make you sleepy when it’s time to sleep and chipper when it’s time to be up.

This cycle can’t just run on its own, though.

Your body relies on environmental queues to know when it’s time to release the right hormones – and the more you can help it out with this, the better.

So if, for instance, your body learns to associate a hot shower with waking up, chances are you’ll be feeling a bit more awake by the time you’re done with the old strip-and-scrub.

If you’re used to showering at night, on the other hand, sudsing up is what tells your body it’s time for sleep.

Establishing a regular nighttime routine is actually one of the easiest ways to improve both the quality and the quantity of your sleep.

These kinds of rituals are great for nighttime relaxation, so if you’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, you might want to consider adding on a couple soothing practices.

Some other examples include reading, listening to music, or just sitting down for a cup of herbal tea.

In addition to teaching your brain to associate these things with sleep, nightly routines also create a buffer zone between bedtime and the rest of your day.

Your brain needs time to relax after the craziness of daily life, and many experts recommend setting aside a certain amount of time each night to let yourself unwind.

Image: woman in bathrobeCould You Just Shower Twice a Day?

Since showers can prove so helpful in both waking you up and winding you down, you might be wondering whether it would make sense to just shower twice every day.

And you wouldn’t be wrong – if you’re doing it right, at least.

Besides the impact it’d have on the environment and your water bill, there isn’t any real reason why you couldn’t shower twice a day if you felt like it.

The thing is, though, this only works if you know what you’re doing… and as it turns out, the way a lot of us are showering is just plain wrong.

The Right Way to Shower

According to dermatologist Marie Jhin at greatest.com, the ideal shower should only last between 5 and 10 minutes.

I know, I know – hold the pitchforks, that sounds crazy to me, too.

But apparently, standing under the water for that long can do bad things to your skin.

 Your skin has all these protective oils on the outside that keep it from drying out, and standing under the showerhead for too long can strip those away.

So by showering for too long, you actually end up drying out your skin!

And not only can our showers not be too long – science says they can’t be too hot, either.

Again, it’s all about those skin oils.

Lukewarm water is alright, but if the shower starts getting too steamy, you’ll once again end up scraping all that oily goodness away.

So bottom line, if you can content yourself with short, boring showers, you can probably get away with taking a shower twice a day if you feel like it.

The rest of us are just slowly destroying our bodies whenever we shower, so that’s cool I guess.

The Bottom Line: Night vs Morning Showers

Anyway, the bottom line is, both night and morning showers come with a number of benefits.

Morning showers can do a lot to wake us up and get us ready to face the day.

They’re a good place to organize your thoughts, and a great way to hit your morning refreshed and alert.

Night showers, on the other hand, can work wonders for your sleep.

Just as morning showers wake us up by warming up our bodies, night showers get us sleepy by helping us cool down.

The short burst of heat in the shower triggers the body’s cool-down response, so as long as you’re showering around 90 minutes before bed, you should find it a bit easier to sleep.

There isn’t really a right answer to whether morning or night showers are better.

Both come with their pros and cons, and it’s best to just figure out which of the options works for you – and, of course, always be ready to fight anyone who disagrees.