Should You Shower At Night Or In The Morning?
April 11, 2018
Author: Shelly Weaver-Cather
####“Showers are my coffee,” my mother has always said—something that has baffled me for years.
How a woman, who spends eighty percent of her day on her feet in hot kitchens, goes all day without even so much as looking a pot of coffee in the eye, is impossible for me to wrap my head around. Also, she can run circles around any twenty year old, so maybe she’s onto something.
As I sipped on my second cup of coffee before 10AM, I got to thinking. I’d just accepted it as law that people are to shower in the morning. My whole family always has, my husband does, my college roommate did. This was the norm, surely, because it was all I knew. But what if I was missing out on something incredible by showering at night?
I started where all great research should—my peers. I turned to Slack to inquire about my team’s showering habits. I’m sure HR loved it.
43 people reacted to my question with an emoji representative of their preferred time to shower, which is about as scientific of a survey as it gets. In between sprints and product launches, this is a somewhat common practice in our company—our greatest hits include The Great Raisin Debate of 2016 (and 2017…and 2018), Are Pies Sandwiches? discussion, and the ever icy Meryl Streep Is Just Average dispute. I was feeling pretty confident that our team would provide the kind of guidance I needed.
The results? Basically our lives are completely ruled by our hair and what it demands of us. Heated words were exchanged between those who are forced to wash and dry their hair at night so they can get a few more precious moments of sleep in the morning and those who have to start the day with freshly washed hair or they look, as one of our engineers, Amy, put it, like a drowned rat. About half of us greet the morning with a refreshing shower, the other half want to wash the day away and hit the sheets fresh and clean. One of us, Evan, showers in the morning “to get my bed dirty so I have to get a new one frequently to drive incremental mattress sales for T&N.” (While we won’t necessarily discourage this kind of shopping, you can check out this article for all of your mattress cleaning needs.)
So Which Way Is The Right Way? Our results were inconclusive, so I turned to the amazing and terrible machine that is the internet. Through countless articles and interviews with doctors and sleep experts, my research lead down endless rabbit holes. What I ultimately learned shocked me: I was asking the wrong question the entire time. It’s not about when you shower. It’s about how.
There’s this whole thing about circadian rhythm and internal temperature that dictates quite a bit about our lives, but the nutshell version is this—as your body winds down at the end of the night, your core temperature starts to lower, and when you wake up in the morning, your temperature rises again. Experts believe that activities that raise your core temperature (For example, a piping hot shower.) can negatively impact the quality of your sleep, whereas first thing in the morning it can help get you revved up and ready for the day.
So does this make the night shower takers wrong? Not if they do it right.
Keeping showers limited to 5-10 minutes and the water temperature lukewarm should allow you to have the best of both worlds—cleaner sheets, and an uninterrupted circadian rhythm. Morning shower fans aren’t doing it wrong either, according to the experts. Humans tend to be at their grossest at night—we sweat, drool, and our hair tends to resemble a bird’s nest upon waking (Oh? That’s just me?). Rinsing the night off to jump start your day is just as beneficial as a quick rinse before bed, and doing both may actually be the best plan.
The biggest takeaway in all of this? It doesn’t really matter when you shower, just that you do. Please.