The Benefits Of Showering Before Bed

The Benefits Of Showering Before Bed (2024)

Last updated: 12.03.2024 Reading time: 6 Min.

Not everyone likes a shower before bed.

But research shows that establishing a nighttime routine that involves a shower (or warm bath) actually helps achieve better sleep.

We go into the ins and outs of showering before bed in this guide on benefits and best practices.

Let’s dive right in. 👇

The Benefits Of Showering Before Bed

Understanding the science behind showering before bed

Understanding the science behind showering before bed reveals fascinating insights into how this simple bedtime routine can significantly enhance sleep quality, primarily through its effects on body temperature regulation [1].

Does a hot shower help you sleep better?

Core body temperature is closely tied to our sleep-wake cycle, and a drop in body temperature signals the brain that it’s time to sleep.

Taking a warm shower 1 - 2 hours before bedtime can artificially raise the body’s temperature.

Once out of the shower, the rapid cool-down period that follows helps to mimic the natural drop in body temperature and increases melatonin production, making it easier to fall asleep.

Does a cold shower help you sleep better?

Taking a cold shower before bed can also improve sleep, especially in warmer climates or during hot weather.

Cool water can help lower your body’s core temperature, which is conducive to initiating sleep.

man taking cold shower before sleep
A cold shower may also have sleep-inducing benefits.

Additionally, the cold can be invigorating, reducing stress and calming the body, making it easier to fall asleep.

Further down, we look at some temperature considerations that will help you choose between a hot and a cold shower.

Health and wellness benefits of showering before bed

While a hot shower is most beneficial for helping you sleep better [2], both hot and cold showers have a number of health and wellness benefits.

Health benefits of a hot shower before bed

Let’s first look at some of the health benefits of having a hot or warm shower before going to bed.

Improved sleep quality

The warmth from a hot shower can increase your body temperature.

Following the shower, your body cools down, which mimics the natural decrease in body temperature that signals it’s time to sleep, helping you fall asleep faster and more deeply. 😴

Muscle relaxation

The hot water helps to relax muscles and relieve tension, reducing pain and discomfort from physical activities or stress and making it easier to achieve restful sleep.

Stress reduction

The soothing effect of a hot shower can decrease blood pressure and lower stress and anxiety levels by calming the nervous system, creating a sense of relaxation and tranquility that prepares the mind for sleep.

woman lying in bath
A warm shower or bath before bed has great stress-reduction benefits.

Skin cleansing

Hot showers can help open pores and cleanse the skin, removing toxins and dirt accumulated throughout the day, which might contribute to better skin health.

Improved circulation

The heat from the shower can improve blood circulation, aiding in the body’s recovery and relaxation processes.

Sinus relief

The steam from a hot shower can help clear nasal passages, offering relief from symptoms of allergies or colds.

This makes it easier to breathe and, thus, sleep better.

Health benefits of a cold shower before bed

Although cold showers may not have the same sleep-inducing benefits as warm showers, they can still offer a host of health and well-being benefits [3].

Cooling down

A cold shower can lower your body’s core temperature, which is particularly beneficial during warm weather or in warmer climates.

This makes it easier to fall asleep in hot conditions.

Stress reduction

Exposure to cold water can increase endorphin levels, the body’s natural pain and stress fighters.

This can reduce stress and lead to a feeling of well-being.

Improved circulation

Cold showers can also improve circulation by encouraging blood to surround your organs, which can help combat problems related to the heart and skin.

Enhanced alertness

Though it might seem counterintuitive for sleep, the initial shock, heightened cortisol production, and subsequent increase in heart rate from a cold shower can increase alertness, which, when timed well before bed, can lead to more profound relaxation.

Skin and hair health

Cold water can help to tighten cuticles and pores, which prevent them from getting clogged.

woman with sparkling hair looking in a mirror
Cold water can improve the condition of your skin and hair.

It can also seal in moisture in the skin and scalp, potentially improving the condition of both.

Immunity boost

Regular cold showers can increase the number of white blood cells in your body, which may boost the immune system, helping to fight off illnesses. 💉

Practical considerations for the UK climate

When incorporating showering before bed into your routine, especially within the UK’s varied climate, there are a few practical considerations to keep in mind.

man sleeping with thermometer on side
A shower or bath can help you achieve the optimal temperature for sleep.

The UK experiences a wide range of temperatures throughout the year, from cold, damp winters to occasionally warm summers.

Read our guide on the best temperature for sleep to help you get the best snooze all year long.

These fluctuations can influence the most beneficial water temperature for showering and the approach to staying warm afterwards.

Here are the best water temperatures for different seasons:

  • In the cooler months, a warmer evening shower or hot bath can help raise your body temperature, making it easier to feel cosy and ready for bed. However, it’s essential not to make the water too hot, as this can lead to dry skin and irritations. A moderately warm shower is sufficient to benefit from the temperature drop post-shower, which aids sleep initiation.
  • During the warmer summer months, a slightly cooler shower might be preferable. This can help lower your body temperature on hot nights, making it easier to fall asleep despite the heat.

After taking a shower, it’s important to avoid an uncomfortable chill, particularly in the winter months.

Ensuring your heating system is adequately set to maintain a comfortable temperature is worth gold, but if you’re saving on heating costs, you could also consider something snuggly, like a blanket hoodie or Oodie to keep you warm.

Enhancing your nighttime shower routine

To enhance your nighttime shower routine for optimal relaxation and sleep readiness, consider incorporating elements that engage all your senses and promote tranquillity.

  • Begin by setting a warm, comfortable water temperature to help relax your muscles and prepare your body for sleep.
  • Use gentle, natural, and possibly aromatherapeutic shower products with scents like lavender or chamomile, which are known for their calming properties.
  • Dim the bathroom lights or use candles to create a soothing ambience, and consider playing soft music or nature sounds to further calm the mind.
  • After showering, wrap yourself in a plush, warm towel or robe, and apply a moisturiser to hydrate your skin, choosing one with a soothing scent to reinforce the sense of relaxation.

By creating a serene environment and using products that soothe the senses, you can transform your nighttime shower into a ritual that significantly enhances a good night’s sleep.

lavender on pillow
Lavender is well-known as a sleep-inducing scent.

Why not get started with something like the Aeyla Sleep Candle with calming lavender that promotes sleep and well-being?

Should you shower before bed?

Showering before bed not only ensures you climb into your sheets squeaky clean, but it also has multiple stress-reducing and sleep-inducing properties.

Adding a warm nighttime shower can be a key step in establishing a healthy sleep routine, so why not give it a try?

Frequently asked questions

  • Is taking a shower before bed good for you?

    Yes, taking a shower before bed can be very beneficial for both your physical and mental health.

    Here are some of the key wellness benefits:

    • A warm shower before bedtime can help relax your muscles, relieve tension, and reduce stress, creating a perfect state for sleep.
    • The process of warming up and then cooling down after a shower can also help to regulate your body’s natural circadian rhythms, signalling to your brain that it’s time to sleep. This can lead to improved sleep quality, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.
    • A shower can cleanse your skin, removing dirt and grime that's accumulated during the day, which can improve skin health.

    Incorporating a shower into your nighttime routine can enhance your overall well-being and contribute to a better night’s rest. 

  • Is it better to take a shower before bed or after waking up?

    The decision of whether it’s better to shower before bed or after waking up depends on personal preferences and the specific benefits you’re looking to achieve.

    Benefits of showering before bed:

    • The warm water helps you relax and wind down after a long day, making it easier to fall asleep.
    • Can improve sleep quality by lowering your body temperature, signalling to your brain that it’s time for sleep.
    • Cleanses the skin of pollutants, dirt, and grime accumulated throughout the day, which is beneficial for skin health.
    • Reduces the risk of transferring dirt and oils from the day onto your bed linen.

    If hygiene and sleep quality are important to you, then showering before bed is the way to go.

    Benefits of showering after waking up:

    • Can help you wake up and feel more alert, especially if you take a cooler shower.
    • Is effective for setting a routine that signals the start of your day.
    • It may be preferred by those who exercise in the morning or feel particularly oily or sweaty upon waking.

    A cold shower upon waking is the best way to revitalise your body and jump-start your day.

  • How long before bed should you shower?

    To optimise the sleep-promoting benefits of showering before bed, it’s generally recommended to shower about 1 to 2 hours before you plan to go to sleep.

    This timing allows your body to experience the initial warmth from the shower, which is followed by a natural decrease in body temperature.

    This cooling-down process signals to your body that it’s time to sleep, aiding in faster sleep onset and leading to good sleep. 

    Showering within this timeframe provides enough time for your body to cool down adequately. 

  • What happens when you don’t shower before bed?

    Not showering before bed can have several implications, depending on your daily activities and personal hygiene habits.

    • Skin health: Going to bed without showering can lead to the accumulation of dirt, oil, and pollutants on your skin, which may clog pores and potentially cause breakouts or skin irritations.
    • Sleep quality: Showering before bed can trigger a natural sleep-promoting process, and missing this can potentially affect how quickly you fall asleep or the quality of your sleep.
    • Bedding cleanliness: Not showering can transfer sweat, oils, and dirt from your body to your bed linens, leading to a less clean sleeping environment. This might require more frequent washing of bed linen to maintain cleanliness. 
    • Relaxation: For many, a pre-bedtime shower is a key part of their nighttime relaxation routine. Skipping it might make it harder for them to unwind and signal their body that it’s time to relax.
    • Body odour: Natural body oils and sweat accumulated throughout the day can lead to body odour. Not showering before bed might make this more noticeable, affecting both comfort and confidence.

    However, it’s also important to note that, for some people, showering in the morning or at a different time of the day works better for their schedule, skin type, or personal preference. 

  • Is it more hygienic to take a shower at night?

    Taking a shower at night can be considered more hygienic in certain aspects, particularly in terms of maintaining the cleanness of your bed and promoting better skin health.

    Showering before bed removes the day’s accumulation of sweat, oils, dirt, and impurities from your skin.

    This not only helps keep your bedding cleaner but also reduces the risk of skin irritations and acne caused by bacteria and natural oils.

    Additionally, if you’ve been outside or in crowded places, showering can help remove any allergens or pollutants you might have come into contact with, potentially improving your overall health and well-being. 

    However, whether or not it’s more hygienic largely depends on your daily activities and personal preference.

    For those who engage in physical activities or sweat more during the day, a nighttime shower might indeed be more hygienic.

    Yet, for others, a morning shower could be just as hygienic, especially if it helps them feel refreshed and clean for the day ahead.

    Ultimately, the choice between morning and nighttime showers should align with your lifestyle, comfort, and personal hygiene routine. 

  • Do saunas provide the same sleep-inducing benefits as a hot shower before bed?

    Saunas and hot showers both promote relaxation and can help improve sleep quality, but they do so in slightly different ways.

    The key to their sleep-inducing benefits lies in the body’s response to heat and the subsequent cooling process.

    Hot showers directly warm the body and can quickly be followed by a cooling environment, which helps to lower the body’s core temperature.

    This cooling effect after the shower mimics the natural drop in body temperature that signals the brain it’s time to sleep, thereby potentially making it easier to fall asleep.

    Saunas, on the other hand, provide a more intense and prolonged exposure to heat, leading to increased body heating, dilating the blood vessels and aiding blood flow, and even helping alleviate muscle soreness. 

    This can also initiate the body’s natural cooling process, similar to a hot shower, but it might be more pronounced due to the higher temperatures experienced in a sauna. 

    While both can be beneficial for sleep, the sauna’s more intense heat exposure can lead to a more significant relaxation response, which some might find particularly effective for inducing sleep.

    However, timing is crucial - it’s recommended to allow sufficient time for the body to cool down after a sauna before attempting to sleep. 

  • What temperature should a hot shower or bath be?

    Warm water with a temperature of between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius (104 - 108 degrees Fahrenheit) is ideal for inducing sleep.

  • References



Editor & Certified Sleep Therapist

Nicky is an experienced writer and editor with numerous qualifications. As a certified sleep coach, her interests lie in understanding how sleep problems arise from hormonal and environmental issues, particularly as part of stress and anxiety management.

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