A quick, refreshing shower in the morning and long, languorous bath at night – that’s the way to do it, right? Not according to the experts. Plenty of doctors advocate relaxing baths in morning routines and blitzing through 5-minute showers before hitting the pillow instead. From reducing stress and boosting creativity, to enhancing your beauty routine, here are six reasons to switch up the way you wash…
Lower Cortisol Levels
According to dermatologist and Yale professor, Dr Mona Gohara, having a morning bath allows you time to meditate and regroup before starting a hectic day. She says that this period of mindfulness can keep levels of cortisol – the body’s stress hormone – capped.
Optimally, our cortisol levels begin to rise naturally in the early hours of the morning, peaking at around 8am. But when we’re stressed, cortisol can spike too early – causing us to wake before our alarm each morning or get up already feeling anxious. Along with doing your best to reduce stressors in your life, a relaxing morning bath could lower those overreaching cortisol levels and help you start your day in a calmer state of mind.
Multiple studies have shown taking showers and baths can spark creativity. So if you have a problem that needs an out-of-the-box solution, Harvard Psychology Lecturer Dr Shelley Carson recommends letting your mind wander each morning while you soak in calming water – not only is your mind more active early on in the day, doing it before work will ensure all those ‘Aha!’ moments get put to good use.
If you choose to shave, Dr Gohara says it’s best to do so early on because you’ll be more alert and therefore less likely to cut yourself. Plus, if you do slip up, you’re less likely to make a mess as the body has a surge in platelets – or “blood cloggers” as Dr Gohara puts it – in the morning.
While removing the day’s make-up, oil, dirt and pollutants before you go to sleep is vital, if you’re only cleansing your face and body at night, you’re missing a trick. Yen Reis, Founder of skincare brand and facial clinic Skin Laundry, says that stimulating skin cells by cleansing and massaging the face with warm water in the morning is important too – particularly for oily or acne-prone skin.
Streamlined Night-Time Routine
Self-proclaimed ‘Sleep Ambassador’ Nancy Rothstein says it’s important to wash in the evening, as it “separates the day from the night” and helps you create a ‘preparing for bed’ routine that can improve the quality of your sleep. Swapping long baths for shorter showers will streamline your nightly routine, ensuring you’re more likely to stick to it, no matter how busy your evenings are.
We’ve long heard about the sleep-boosting powers of baths, but it turns out showers could be equally – if not more – beneficial. As sleep expert Dr Christopher Winter explains, our body temperature naturally drops in the evening, which signals it’s time to go to sleep. Raising our body temperature by having a warm shower or bath in the evening (leading our temperature to naturally drop afterwards) can therefore help regulate our circadian rhythm.
So, what’s the case for evening showers? Winter says the optimal time to wash is 60 to 90 minutes before going to bed, and we should be doing it in lukewarm water – as hot water will raise our body temperature too much, putting us at risk of overheating in bed. We’d certainly take a lukewarm shower over a lukewarm bath any day.
Fancy swapping over to morning baths? Here’s our pick of the best beauty products to help wake you up…