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image of woman showering before bed

Is It Better to Shower in the Morning or at Night?

Should you shower in the morning or at night?

The answer is…yes.

Personally, I can’t feel I’m fully ready for the day without a shower in the morning. I shower a second time on days I go to the gym, or maybe after a hike. But I haven’t been much of a night-shower guy since I stopped frequenting late-night dance clubs a couple of decades ago.

Whether you prefer your time under the streaming H20 in the a.m. or p.m. is really up to you; each has its benefits. Ultimately it comes down to what you want your shower to do for you, with goals going beyond simply cleaning up.

Pros of a morning shower

According to science, morning showers offer both mental and physical benefits. Turns out the shower creates a relaxed yet alert “alpha” brain wave state, much as meditation does. Shelley Carson, PhD, a Harvard University psychology lecturer, told the lifestyle and health website Greatist that showering in the morning is ideal for helping you operate at your creative best.

That’s because your meditative state in the shower offers an ideal “incubation period” for gathering thoughts and generating ideas, Carson explained. Not for nothing have many of us experienced an “aha!” moment in the shower, when the answer to a problem we’ve been mulling over pops into our head.

There’s another, more practical benefit, Greatist noted. For those of us who shave our face, legs, or other body parts in the shower, a morning shower offers some extra protection against a slip of the blade. Our bodies experience a surge of blood-clotting platelets between 6 a.m. and noon, so if you nick yourself, you likely won’t likely bleed as much as you would at night.

Pros of a nighttime shower

If what you’re after is a good night’s sleep, then a nighttime shower can be just the thing. In fact, the rapid drop in body temperature after a shower mimics our natural cooling down during sleep to the “temperature minimum” phase of our circadian rhythm. Cooling off after a warm shower naturally makes you drowsy and may be especially helpful for people who struggle with insomnia. The key is timing it right: Try to shower an hour or more before bed, so your body has time to adequately cool down before you retire for the night.

A nighttime shower has other benefits beyond helping you sleep—namely, washing the day’s detritus from your hair and skin. Cleansing your face is the most important skin-care step you can take before you go to sleep, says Jennifer Haley, MD, dermatologist in Arizona. If you don’t get rid of all the dirt, oil, and makeup that’s made its way onto your face during the day, your skin won’t be able to rejuvenate itself overnight like it should—plus, if you put skin care products on top of dirty skin, they won’t be able to penetrate, rendering them ineffective.

Related: 10 nighttime activities to help you relax

So, who wins the shower debate?

There is no one right answer. And besides, who says you have to choose? Even a morning regular may enjoy the occasional nighttime shower, and vice versa.

Maybe the best advice is simply to have your shower whenever it suits you, understanding that there are benefits to be derived at any time of day. If a morning shower helps you compose your thoughts and emerge refreshed and invigorated to face the day, terrific. If a nighttime shower lets you relax from a stressful day and ease into a good night’s sleep, go for it.

And feel free to switch it up any time it suits you.

Trouble sleeping? Read one writer’s experience of hiring a sleep coach to help her snooze.