Not since we begged the question of whether it’s a good idea to brush teeth in the shower has a hygiene-related topic had the potential to generate such debate. An informal poll found wide-ranging opinions on the day versus evening shower — some people can’t get through the day without starting it with a good scrub down, whereas others simply can’t settle in for the night unless they’re squeaky clean. Then there are those who prefer to go with the flow based on schedule and exercise habits.
All the conflicting opinions causes us to wonder whether one time of day is superior to another for the purpose of showering? Often, the answer to such a seemingly innocuous question isn’t as simple as one would think. Let’s look at it from a few different angles.
The Sleep Factor
Although many people prefer a morning shower to help them wake up, the evening shower is actually a valuable tool for winding down at night, particularly for those with sleep problems. “If we are looking at showering strictly from a sleep perspective, there is no question that someone should be showering at night vs. in the morning,” explains Bill Fish, certified sleep science coach with Tuck.com, noting that the human body thrives on structure and routine.
Indeed, research has shown that a soothing, warm bath or shower before bedtime raises the body temperature enough to set the tone for a good night’s rest. Raising your body temperature and then allowing it to cool seems to hasten sleep. “If you make it a point to shower roughly 30 minutes prior to going to sleep each night, your body will begin to know that the sleep ritual has begun and you will begin to naturally feel sleepy after your nightly shower,” he adds.
Laurelei Litke, a digital marketing content expert at HealthLabs.com in Houston, swears by this recommendation. “As an insomniac, having a nightly routine is so important,” she says in an email. “I like to take a warm shower about an hour before bedtime, but I leave my room pretty cold. Controlling my body temperature is a big part of falling asleep for me!”
On the other hand, a regular morning shower could be a must for people who need an extra jolt to get going. “Research shows that there is a positive aspect of water in improving our ability to become awake faster. Showering in the morning is refreshing and makes us feel clean and ready for the day — something to pay attention to if we want to boost our confidence,” says psychiatrist Dr. Damian Jacob Sendler via email.
The verdict: Evening showers are best for people with sleep problems, but if you sleep well and need it to feel alert in the morning there’s no harm in showering when you rise.