Shower Before Bed: Do Warm or Cold Showers Help You Get More Sleep?

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jing Zhang, Neuroscientist

Dr. Jing Zhang, Neuroscientist

Jing Zhang is a prominent figure in the realm of sleep research, specializing in the intricate connection between sleep and memory. With an extensive research tenure exceeding 7 years, she…

Read more
Last Updated On May 1st, 2024
Shower Before Bed: Do Warm or Cold Showers Help You Get More Sleep?

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the Benefits: Showering before bed offers various advantages, including improved thermoregulation for sleep onset, relaxation, improved blood circulation, enhanced skin health, and a hygienic sleep environment.
  • Effects of Hot Showers: Hot showers promote muscle relaxation, trigger a sudden temperature drop upon exiting, and mimic the body’s natural temperature decline, aiding in sleep quality and onset.
  • Effects of Cold Showers: Cold showers can be invigorating, improving blood circulation and reducing muscle soreness, but they can also increase alertness, potentially hindering sleep for some individuals. Adjusting the timing of cold showers earlier in the evening may help mitigate their stimulating effects on sleep.

In the quest for restful sleep, we try different routines and remedies. Pre-bedtime showers are an age-old method people use to calm themselves and improve sleep quality.

Our sleep-wake cycle is linked with body temperature more significantly than one might think. This is why taking a shower before bed can influence how quickly you fall and the quality of your sleep.

Save $450 On Any Mattress

Plus free shipping

Get $450 OFF Mattresses

Let’s get into the science of showers before bed.

Benefits of Showering Before Bed

Showering before bedtime is much more than just cleanliness. Showering before bed has physiological effects that can promote quality sleep.

Here’s how showering before bed is advantageous.

Thermoregulation and Sleep Onset

The body of humans runs through an internal clock called the circadian rhythm that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. This rhythm involves a drop in core body temperature in the evening, which works as a signal for the body that it’s time to rest. A warm shower raises the body’s surface temperature.

Once you get out of the shower, this temperature decreases rapidly—mimicking the natural drop initiated by your circadian rhythms and potentially initiating Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source the onset of sleep.

Relaxation and Stress Reduction

Warm water has a calming effect, and it helps lower levels of cortisol Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source —the primary stress hormone. Low cortisol levels can not only help you fall asleep but also result in a sound quality sleep.

Improved Blood Circulation

Warm water Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source helps in the expansion of blood vessels, enhancing blood circulation. This improved blood circulation can soothe muscle aches and pains. This makes it more comfortable to settle into a sleeping position, especially after a tiring day.

Skin Health

Showering before bed helps you make sure that there are no dirt, oil, and allergens accumulated on your skin. It allows the skin—the largest organ of the human body—to breathe and repair itself overnight.

This way, you can prevent potential skin conditions and enhance the skin’s natural recovery processes. You can take it a step further by constructing a nighttime skin routine after your shower, as part of your nightly routine.

Hygienic Sleep Environment

Sleeping with the day’s grime to bed can create a breeding ground for bacteria in the bed or on your sheets. Showering ensures that you are not sleeping in a mix of sweat, dirt, and pollutants you are exposed to during the day. It helps you keep your sleeping environment cleaner for longer.

Allergy Relief

Many of us are sensitive to outdoor allergens like pollen, or indoor allergens like pet dander. A nighttime shower can wash off any traces, alleviating nighttime allergy symptoms. Other measures, such as taking advantage of the benefits of air purifiers, can help you maintain a bedroom with high air quality.

Effects of Hot Showers on Sleep

The warmth of water in hot showers increases blood circulation to the surface of the skin. It helps muscles relax and release tension.

The body experiences a sudden drop in skin temperature as you step out of a hot shower. This mimics the natural decline in body temperature that occurs in the evening.

This sudden temperature change signals the brain that it’s time to wind down. This is the same as the natural circadian rhythm-related thermoregulation process of the human body.

In the evening, the human body’s core temperature drops naturally. However, the skin temperature of hands and feet increases. Hot showers mimic Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source the same pattern, improving sleep quality as a result.

According to Dr. Jing Zhang, research Verified Source ScienceDirect One of the largest hubs for research studies and has published over 12 million different trusted resources. View source shows that having a hot shower and raising your body temperature to 40–42.5 °C leads to improved self-rated sleep quality and shorter time to fall asleep.

Effects of Cold Showers on Sleep

On the contrary, cold showers can be invigorating. The sudden temperature drop in cold showers can increase alertness as an instinctual response to cold.

This temperature change kickstarts the circulatory system, sending blood rushing to core organs. Cold showers before bedtime are supposed to be counterproductive to sleep, but they can help regulate the body’s temperature for a comfortable sleep environment.

Cold showers can aid in quality sleep by potentially reducing muscle soreness. It benefits those with physically tiring days. However, for those sensitive to cold, cold showers before bedtime can be concerning. It can be too stimulating and affect the sleep onset and quality.

Cooler showers are also wise if you enjoy saunas before bed. Saunas raise your body temperature significantly. Taking a cooler shower helps bring your body temperature back to normal gradually. Hot showers after a sauna could potentially lead to overheating, as your body is already in an elevated temperature state from the sauna session.

Comparing Warm vs. Cold Showers

Hot and cold showers both are known for their different effects on sleep quality and sleep onset. Both have their advantages and may be more suitable for different individuals based on personal preferences and physical needs.

For many people, warm showers tend to be the go-to option. They offer immediate relaxation and reduce tension, perfect as a prelude to an at-home spa night. Warm showers dilate blood vessels on the skin’s surface and facilitate better blood flow.

Taking a warm shower to facilitate sleep in the elderly Verified Source ScienceDirect One of the largest hubs for research studies and has published over 12 million different trusted resources. View source has been an effective, low-cost way for medical professionals to manage their patients’ insomnia symptoms, according to Dr. Jing Zhang.

People with circulatory issues find warm showers beneficial and soothing. Moreover, the subsequent cooling post-shower can signal the body that it’s time for rest, promoting a deeper sleep.

However, overextended hot showers can affect the skin’s natural oils, causing dryness. If taken too close to bedtime, hot showers can interfere with the body’s natural sleep processes.

A cold shower before bed, on the other hand, usually sounds daunting but can be an energy inducer. The sudden temperature change in a cold shower can improve circulation as the body works to maintain its core temperature.

They also improve skin health, tighten pores, and maintain the skin’s natural oil. It can be revitalizing, shaking off fatigue and boosting alertness.

Though cold showers can be an initial shock to the body, many people find it refreshing. However, for those looking to wind down, a cold shower might not be a good option as it improves alertness.

Cold showers are best taken a bit earlier in the evening, allowing the initial alertness to wear off.

Potential Drawbacks of Showering Before Bed

Some individuals may find that the stimulation from the warm water and increased body temperature can make it difficult to fall asleep immediately after a shower.

Additionally, for those who have a hard time drying their hair thoroughly, going to sleep with wet hair could lead to discomfort or even contribute to issues such as fungal growth on the scalp.

Moreover, individuals with certain skin conditions may experience increased dryness or irritation due to frequent showering, especially if they use hot water and strong soaps.

If you don’t want to take a shower before bed but still wants the benefits of having a hot shower, you can opt for footbathing, Dr. Jing Zhang recommends. A 2000 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source shows that having a hot footbath has similar effect in improving sleep quality as a hot shower before bed.

It’s important to keep in mind that showering before bed is a personal decision, and consider these potential drawbacks and tailor your shower routine to best suit your individual needs and preferences for optimal sleep and skin health. Whether you prefer a warm or cold shower, the key lies in understanding your body’s response and choosing what feels better for you.


Is it good to take a shower before bed?

Taking a shower before bed comes with many benefits. It improves relaxation and sleep quality and removes accumulated dirt and pollutants from the skin. The temperature shift after a shower can also signal it’s time to rest, helping in a deeper sleep.

Is it better to take a cold shower at night or in the morning?

Cold showers in the morning can charge you for an active day. They increase alertness and help you stay active as you start your day. However, at night, a cold shower can be too energizing for some people. It can potentially disrupt sleep unless taken earlier in the evening.

When should you use cold showers?

Cold showers facilitate muscle recovery, help you cool down, and improve circulation. With that, cold showers are suitable after workouts and during the hot season. They can also help tighten skin pores and maintain the natural oil of the skin.

Is showering before bed good for the skin?

Yes, showering before bed can have various benefits for the skin, particularly if you supplement it with a nighttime skin routine. Showering helps to remove dirt, oil, and impurities accumulated throughout the day, which can clog pores and lead to breakouts.

However, excessively hot water can strip the skin of natural oils. Using lukewarm water and applying moisturizer afterward can help keep the skin hydrated.

Do I need to shower in the morning if I showered before bed?

Whether you need to shower in the morning after taking a shower before bed the previous night depends can vary by the person. Showering in the morning can help wake you up instead of sleeping in late, boost circulation, and leave you feeling refreshed before starting your day.

However, if you have washed before bed and do not feel the need to shower in the morning, there is no strict requirement to do so unless specific circumstances necessitate it, such as body odor from night sweats.

What is the best time to take a bath before bed?

Many people find that taking a warm bath approximately 1-2 hours before bedtime helps them relax and unwind, helping them fall asleep faster and easier. This timeframe allows the body to cool down after the bath, enabling you to experience the full calming effects of hot water bathing without feeling overheated.

However, the ideal timing for a pre-bedtime hot bath may differ for each person. It’s essential to find a routine that works best for your specific needs and sleep schedule.

Should I take off my jewelry before showering at night?

Yes, it’s generally recommended to remove your jewelry before showering, especially before bedtime. Showering with jewelry on can cause it to become dull, tarnished, or even damaged over time due to exposure to water, soap, and other bath products.

Additionally, the accumulation of moisture and residue from soaps and shampoos can lead to skin irritation around the areas where jewelry is worn.

To keep your jewelry looking its best and to maintain healthy skin, it’s best to remove your jewelry before hopping into the shower or bath at night. It’s also wise to not put it back on after your evening shower, as you don’t want to sleep with jewelry on. Instead, store it in a safe place until morning.


The quest for a restful night’s sleep is significantly correlated with the temperature of your body. Both warm and cold showers have their benefits—warm showers promote relaxation and aid in sleep onset, while cold water can recharge and increase alertness.

Nighttime showers aren’t just about comfort or sleep, though. They have a myriad of other benefits.

It gives us an opportunity to leave back all the dirt, sweat, and pollutants that we have accumulated on our skin during the hectic day. It works as a moment of solace—the much-needed ‘me-time’ for many.

It reduces the transfer of oils, dirt, and allergens to your bedding, providing a cleaner sleep environment. It also regulates our body temperature, which helps us get better sleep.

The choice between a hot or cold shower depends on your personal preference. Experiment with both options to find what suits and serves you best, enhancing your nightly rest and overall well-being.

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

View all posts

Discover the ultimate sleep system

Choose your mattress

Shop top-rated mattresses with proven sleep-boosting materials.

Get a pillow

We have the perfect pillow to pair with your mattress.

Browse Pillows

Pick out bedding

Bring out the best in your mattress with our soft and breathable bedding.

Browse Bedding