The Soapy Science Behind Shower Thoughts

The Soapy Science Behind Shower Thoughts

Your shower isn't just a place to scrub the gunk off your nuts and feet. It can also be the source of your biggest creative breakthroughs and solutions to your most vexing problems. 

If you've ever been struck by a flash of brilliance in the shower, it's not a coincidence. It turns out shower thoughts are backed by legit scientific theories. 

Here's the CliffsNotes version: the relaxing feeling of showering combined with a lack of distractions puts your brain in a position to fire at peak capacity (more on this later).

In this article, we break down two types of shower thoughts, why we get them, and share a few of our favorites here at DUDE HQ.

What Are 'Shower Thoughts' Exactly?

As the name implies, a shower thought is an idea or epiphany you get while showering. Shower thoughts usually come out of nowhere and tend to be hard to remember, much like a dream.

We can assume that people have achieved creative breakthroughs while bathing since the dawn of time. But the term "shower thought" seems to have gained popularity in the early 2000s to refer to this phenomenon.

There's even a r/Showerthoughts subreddit that has more than 25 million members. Since 2011, people have flocked here to share "miniature epiphanies you have that highlight the oddities within the familiar." We wasted about 20 minutes scrolling through the top entries.

The term "shower thought" is pretty vague, but they usually fall into two categories.

The first is a mundane-yet-satisfying insight or analogy. After years of unconscious observations floating around inside your brain, they're suddenly distilled into a gem of sage-like wisdom. 

For example, "commas are speed bumps for your brain" or "Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening are greetings, but good night is a farewell."

The second kind is when you find the answer to a problem you've been trying to solve for a long time. Maybe you're under pressure to come up with a big idea at work or think of a clever way to slide into someone's DMs. After days of racking your brain, the answer suddenly hits you while you're washing your balls.

Still, how can a little warm water and soap kick your brain into high gear?

Why Do We Get Shower Thoughts?

There aren't any studies dedicated to explaining the phenomenon of shower thoughts. Interesting as the subject matter might be, it's not the most pressing issue in the scientific community.

That said, the fundamentals of biology and psychology can explain why you suddenly turn into a genius when you step into the shower. Two main factors go into producing shower thoughts: distractions and dopamine.

You're Not Thinking (That's a Good Thing)

The vast majority of your waking hours are spent focusing on stuff: work, where you're going to lunch, your itchy butt, etc. All these thoughts eat away your brain's capacity for creative thinking, which requires your prefrontal cortex to relax.

When you shower, you mainly go through the motions, which activates a part of your brain called the "default mode network." When this happens, your subconscious thoughts bubble up to the surface since your brain isn't preoccupied with active tasks.

This is why it's so hard to come up with clever ideas or funny stories on demand. It's also why you might get great ideas during other slow, repetitive activities like driving a familiar route or taking a long walk.

Needless to say, blasting music in the shower or attempting shower sex probably reduces the likelihood of genius striking.

Dopamine Makes You More Creative

Showering is one of life's greatest pleasures. The warm water relaxes your muscles and improves circulation, but most importantly, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system. Specifically, showering increases dopamine production, a neurotransmitter and hormone that boosts your mood. 

The Association for Psychological Science notes that a positive mood helps you think more creatively. Also, a study from 2016 found that higher levels of dopamine correlate with creative thinking.

In other words, "creative juices" really just means shower water.

5 of Our Favorite Shower Thoughts

Millions of shower thoughts go undocumented every day. Fortunately, these ones were written down for the world to appreciate.

"Every day, someone on earth unknowingly takes the biggest poop in the world for that day."

This one's our personal favorite for obvious reasons. Fun fact: the record for the world's longest poop is a total hoax.

"Coffee makes you hyper, but coffee shops are designed for people to chill, whereas alcohol is a depressant, bars and clubs are designed for people to be energetic."

Ironic, isn't it? Coffee shops might be chill, but there's nothing chill about an emergency coffee poop.

"There is no physical evidence to say that today is Wednesday, we all just have to trust that someone has kept count since the first one ever."

Just goes to show society is hanging on by a thread.

"If you're alone when you crack open a peanut shell and eat the peanut inside, you're the only person in the world to have ever seen that peanut."

Impressive—the same thing goes for sunflower seeds and egg yolks.

"We never really scratch our balls -- It's more of a pinch the skin and twist technique that no one ever teaches us; we all just figure it out on our own and no one ever talks about it."

True, although people might think you're insane if you say, "I really need to pinch and twist my scrotum."

Can Shower Wipes Produce Shower Thoughts?

In case you haven't heard, we're leading the next evolution in showering technology with DUDE Shower Wipes. These bad boys are extra large and extra thick to remove dirt, odor, and sweat from head to toe.

The jury is still out on whether you'll get any genius shower thoughts while wiping yourself down. But even if you don't solve the world's problems, you'll at least be fresh AF—and that's all a dude can ask for.

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