Is it Better (and Cleaner) to Shower at Night or in the Morning?

published Oct 10, 2018
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(Image credit: Trinette Reed/Stocksy)

While my showering habits have shifted since having kids (read: I shower less), I’ve always been a morning shower-er, purely for practical reasons. My fine hair styles better when I don’t sleep on it, and the ritual of a morning shower jolts me awake and helps me mentally prepare for the day ahead. Plus, I tend to get hot at night, and I feel fresher when I rinse it all off in the A.M.

But fans of night showers defend their habits for similarly practical reasons. “I shower at night because it’s the best chance I’ve got to get everything done. Washing and drying my coarse, wavy hair is a process that takes at least a few hours, and there’s no way to make that happen in the morning,” shared my friend Rachel Suarez LeBeau. She also says she sleeps better because she de-germs at night: “Showering at night helps me feel less germy when I get in bed because I’ve washed it away already.”

Whether you’re a diehard morning shower person like me or you always take yours before bed, there are advantages—and a few disadvantages—to both. Here are a few of the pros and cons, according to both hygiene experts and opinionated shower-takers.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Morning Showers

The good, bad, and ugly of starting your day with an A.M. rinse.

Pro: Starts the day with self-care

I hate feeling groggy in the morning. Since I limit my caffeine intake (too much gives me anxiety), I’ve found a morning shower to provide just the right balance of jolt and refreshment. Plus, taking five or 10 minutes for myself before diving into the demands of a day with two toddlers feels very necessary.

Morning showers can also just leave you feeling cleaner for the day, providing what feels like a blank slate for skin and hair routines. “I’ve actually found my skin looks better when I shower in the morning, and my makeup goes on easier,” says Kelsey McLaughlin, an A.M. shower fan.

Pro: Better for oily or fine hair

While my curly or coarse-haired counterparts say their night showers allow their hair to dry fully, I have the opposite problem: My ultra-fine hair accumulates oil and gets matted overnight. While showering before bed would probably add time to my morning routine, a morning shower leaves my hair feeling fresh and much simpler (and faster!) to style. Morning-shower critics say that’s easy to fix with a little dry shampoo, though.

Pro: Can lead to a healthier lifestyle

Dr. Luiza Petre, a board-certified cardiologist, says showering in the morning could do wonders for your overall health—but that only applies for those brave enough to take a cold shower.

“Perhaps the feeling is not very pleasant, but taking a cold shower in the morning can help boost your metabolism, your energy levels, and even regulate your hormones,” she says. “When your body gets cold, you are burning a substantial amount of calories in order for your body to continue to keep you warm. Also, cold showers are a wonderful way to prepare your body for a high protein breakfast, which will regulate your blood sugar levels.”

Con: You have to get up earlier

Is every second of sleep precious to you? Then you might be better off showering at night. Unless you’re lightning fast and low maintenance, showering in the morning probably means waking up at least thirty minutes earlier. “I shower at night because I wake up late every day, leaving myself an average of 15 minutes to get ready for work,” says devoted night-shower-er Jordan Sullivan.

Con: It may take too long to get ready

Similarly, if you have an extensive beauty routine or hair that requires more time and attention, waiting until the morning to shower can eat up a good portion of your morning routine, forcing you to wake up earlier and potentially making you feel rushed.

Con: You have to wash your sheets more

If you shower in the morning, you can’t escape being dirtier at bedtime—you’re lying in bed with the remnants of your day still all over you, which inevitably transfers to your sheets.

(Image credit: Agencia/Stocksy)

Night Showers

Showering in the evening has its own pros and cons.

Pro: Regulates sleep

You’re onto something if you feel like you sleep better when you take a shower at night. Martin Reed, a certified sleep health educator and founder of Insomnia Coach, says there’s science to the idea that showering at night is linked with more quality sleep.

“An evening shower one to two hours before bed may be beneficial for sleep because the rise and subsequent fall in body temperature can help strengthen the sleep/wake cycle,” Reed says. “A relaxing night-time shower can also be part of a relaxing evening routine to help you unwind and prepare for sleep.”

Pro: Keeps you from sticking to the sheets

Science aside, for some people, getting clean before bed just feels better. “If you are at all sweaty, you can tend to stick to the sheets, but a clean body is a great feeling,” says Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach and founder of Tuck Sleep.

Fellow night-shower fan Virginia Hulce Davidson says going to bed after a shower provides clean break from the day: “I like to shower at night to climb into my sheets with the day washed off and relaxed before bed.”

Pro: Feels less rushed

Depending on your hair type or personality, a night shower might be a better idea. Danielle Cox-Burnett says she hates feeling rushed to wash, blow dry, and style her hair, so she avoids morning showers when she can. “I have way more time at night to make sure I can do everything,” she says. “At night, I don’t feel rushed. I turn it into a spa night when I can with music, wine, and face masks.”

Showering at night also gives your hair time to dry. “In 7th grade, I went to school with wet hair and it froze. I swear a piece broke off, but honestly I can’t remember if that specific detail was just a middle school nightmare,” says Caitlin Willard. “So I shower after work or dinner and let my hair air dry within the warmth of my own home.”

Con: You may not feel as clean in the morning

Night showers are bad news for anyone who sweats, and for those of us with oily skin and hair. “When we sleep, we sweat, and this sweat under the sheets will create bacteria. So if you don’t shower in the morning, you are going into to work or school covered in a night’s worth of sweat,” says Andrew Selepak, PhD, a professor at The University of Florida.

If your hair or skin pick up residual oil from your pillowcase, you may not feel squeaky clean in the morning. But night-shower-ers say that’s easy to fix with a quick rinse or face wash. “I don’t feel less clean in the morning,” says Emily Broeffle. “But I do wash my face, reapply deodorant, and put on a fresh pair of underwear.”

Con: The bedhead struggle is real

Not game for some strategic styling? Sometimes, bedhead (or in my case, literal matted hair) is inescapable. If you don’t like using hair product and you’re not up for a ponytail, then you might want to save your shower and all subsequent hairstyling for the morning (or invest in a spray bottle).

What about you? Are you Team Morning Shower or Team Night Shower?