What Time of Day Should You Shower? Here’s What Doctors Recommend

Showering is a basic part of most people's daily routines. But can your preferred shower time—morning or night—have an effect on your health?

This debate between people who shower in the morning and those who shower at night has raged on for years. Online, creators make bold claims about why their showering habit of choice is best, with some even arguing that science backs up their preference.

Though the two camps are staunchly divided, whether you shower in the morning or at night may not have significant implications for your health. Across a range of specialties, healthcare providers agreed that, in general, you can shower whenever you want.

“There is no scientific literature that says you need to shower in the morning or at night,” Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, told Health.

Though there’s no blanket recommendation, doctors said there are a few reasons why someone may want to choose one time over another for their shower—ultimately, it comes down to a person’s existing health conditions and preferences.

Here’s what experts had to say about the health effects of showering in the morning and of showering at night and how to choose which one is right for you.

woman washing hair
Showering in the Morning Can Be Beneficial
Most basically, showering first thing in the morning means a person is able to wash off the night.

While you sleep, bacteria and skin cells can accumulate and build up on your sheets or skin, Cindy Wassef, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, told Health.

And if you tend to sweat while you sleep, that’s likely hanging on your skin, too. Showering in the morning can help wash this away, she said.

Showering may also help a person become more alert in the morning. The body relies on certain cues to wake up, and a shower can be one of them, said W. Christopher Winter, MD, neurologist and sleep medicine physician with Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, and host of the Sleep Unplugged podcast.

“If this happens every day at the same time, it can serve as a circadian marker for feeling more awake,” he told Health.

This effect may be especially pronounced if a person turns the shower dial to cold, Winter said. This prompts the body to release neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine (the “feel-good” hormone), waking you up in the process.1

Alertness and cleanliness aside, showering in the morning may simply be the most logical or convenient choice, particularly for those who work out after they wake up.

Of those Americans who have a preferred workout time, about half exercise in the morning, according to a 2018 consumer intelligence survey.2 If you’re one of them, it’s healthiest to lather up afterward.

“The goal of a shower is to remove soiling from the skin, so the best time to shower is after your biggest exposure to sweat, dirt, and oils. For most people, this is after exercise,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Health.

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But There Are Reasons to Shower at Night, Too
Showing in the morning can be healthy for you; however, there are also plenty of pros associated with a nighttime shower schedule.

For one, hopping in the shower before bed cleans the skin after a day’s worth of exposure to dirt and pathogens. This “[allows] you to go to sleep without contaminating your sheets,” said Zeichner.

This won’t necessarily prevent illness, Russo said. But if you or someone you live with is immunocompromised, you may want to wash off any germs you might have picked up while you were out and about, he explained.

This is also true for those who have seasonal allergies—showering before bed can ensure that people have gotten rid of any lingering pollen that might otherwise trigger nighttime allergy symptoms.

Another reason to shower before bed? It may be helpful for people with skin conditions such as eczema.

“Environmental factors like irritants and pollution can worsen some skin diseases,” Wassef said. “If you are frequently exposed to these things, it may not be a bad idea to shower at night to remove them from your skin.”

Additionally, for people with dry or eczema-prone skin, their moisturizing routine can be a bit more tedious—showering at night might be more convenient.

People with these skin conditions may want to use a water-based lotion first, followed by a thin layer of an oil-based moisturizer such as Vaseline, said Ife J. Rodney, MD, founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics and professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“That really seals the moisture into your skin,” she told Health.

But these layers can feel a bit heavy in the morning or may affect your clothes, making a night shower the better option.

One final reason people may want to shower at night is to ease their transition to sleep. Just like taking a shower in the morning can be a cue that it’s time to wake up, it can also be a helpful tip-off to your body in the evening that it’s time to wind down, Winter said.

“Raising your temperature before bed—and the cooling that follows—can be a natural trigger for sleep, as the rapid decline in body temperature that happens in the evening is a trigger for sleep,” he said.
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Choose One or the Other—Not Both
Though there are benefits associated with both nighttime and morning showers, trying to do both is likely unnecessary, or could even be harmful, dermatologists said.

“Too-frequent showering can leave skin and hair dry and lusterless,” said Wassef.

If you do have to shower twice in a day—maybe you got sweaty or had an impromptu afternoon workout—consider using a cleansing oil or moisturizing cleanser instead of traditional soap, Rodney recommended.

“Using soap twice a day can strip your skin of its moisture and dry it out,” she said.

When it comes to deciding your ideal shower schedule, take into account your normal exercise routine, skin conditions or allergies, and any sleep concerns. But in general, the best time to shower is the time that works for you.

“It’s really whatever fits with your lifestyle,” Rodney said.