I don't need fancy research to tell me that showering is a great way to unwind, but the science really is there: From boosting productivity to increasing energy, studies show that the benefits of a great scrub-down go well beyond cleanliness. And now, we can add a good night of shut-eye to that ever-growing list.
Time asked a panel of experts for their opinion on how to time a shower for optimal sleep, and it turns out there really is a science to it. For example, you actually don't want to shower right before bed, since we actually sleep better at a lower body temperature. Instead, Dianne Augelli, MD, of the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says it might be a better strategy to give yourself a few minutes after toweling off before tucking yourself in. "Cooling down is a signal that tells us we're supposed to go to sleep," Augelli says.
And there's actually substantial research to support this idea. Studies show that warming your body with a bath can significantly induce sleep because when you step out, your body temperature drops—leaving your eyelids droopy in effect.
As for the magic numbers, sleep specialist Shelby Harris suggests taking a 20-minute shower about 90 minutes before you plan to go to bed. Our tip? Step in after dinner, and when you get out, reach for a book instead of the remote—that way, you aren't negating the sleep-inducing effects of your shower with sleep-reducing screen time.
Check out more expert-approved tips for better sleep.