t’s one of those debates that is pretty much as old as time itself: Is it better to shower at night or in the morning? Yep, we’re sure even cavemen had disagreements over whether they should rinse off in the AM or PM. And in all the centuries that have passed since then (not to mention the advancements in science and health studies), you might expect there to be a clear-cut answer to this conundrum… But it’s still as murky as old bathwater, depending on a few of your own specific needs.
Those who prefer suds-ing up at night usually claim it’s better to wash away all the grime they’ve collected during the day to prevent spreading it around their bed sheets. That seems to makes sense if you’re wandering around a lot collecting dirt and allergens on your skin, or getting in a good exercise before tucking into bed.
Unfortunately, there’s still a chance we’re spreading some ickiness around our linens even after a shower. “Humans tend to perspire at night,” Gary Goldenberg, MD, a dermatologist in New York explained to the New York Times. “When you wake up in the morning, there’s all this sweat and bacteria from the sheets that’s just kind of sitting there on your skin.” Of course, there is the argument that rinsing down before bed can potentially help minimize the level of nocturnal germs we roll around in instead of piling them on top of each other.
Another major benefit to a nighttime rinse: better sleep. A recent study from the University of Austin found that soaping up with warm water about 90 minutes before you want to hit snooze can help improve your ability to fall asleep. The researchers were looking specifically at baths, but focused on the heat and time spent before hitting the hay, which can also apply to showers. This is because our bodies naturally cool down at night, which signals our circadian rhythm to know we’d like to drift off to dreamland. Taking a nice hot shower (or bath) temporarily elevates your temperature and kickstarts the cool down process, hence making it easier to conk out and ideal for those suffering from insomnia.
On the other hand, showering in the morning will, of course, make sure you’re starting each day fresh. It can also help you feel more awake and alert. According to Harvard professor Shelley Carson, PhD, it’s especially beneficial for those in need of boosting their creative juices for their jobs each day.
We’ve all experienced the epiphany of “shower thoughts” — those moments when we’re mulling over an idea while lathering up our shampoo. Carson explained to the Greatest that this is because we’re in a more relaxed state while standing under the warm water, making it easier to activate the “alpha brain wave” state that gives us those moments of clarity. She compares it to meditating and zoning out while doing aerobics, which can also help get ideas flowing.
Basically, your shower schedule seems to depend on whether you need more help getting to sleep at night or with getting your creativity going at the start each day. Here’s to us all making the most of our daily scrub!
This story originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.