Approaches to Water Efficiency in New Homes
4 December 2023
Posted on 03 August 2021 12 min read
Most of us shower once a day, first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It’s a way to wake up for the day ahead, or to wind down and relax before bed. Some of us love to belt out a tune in the shower as well, much to the annoyance of neighbours and others in the house.
But, are shower singing superstars on to something? Are they happier because of singing through suds? Should we all be letting ourselves go in the shower and doing our best impressions of Beyoncé?
Does singing in the shower make you happier? We decided to find out!
We trialled singing in the shower with 10 volunteers – of different ages and genders – to find out if they feel happier when singing vs when showering in silence. They spent one week (five days) of showering without singing followed by one week (five days) of showering with singing. After each shower over the 10 days, we asked all participants to fill in the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire – eight questions to determine the happiness of an individual. We also added three other questions from the extended Oxford Happiness Inventory. Along with our test results, we’ve also sought expert insight to find whether this one change to our routines could make us happier in a time where the world could do with more smiles.
Participants were asked to rank themselves on each statement on a six-point Likert scale, which looked like the following:
|Strongly Disagree||Moderately Disagree||Slightly Disagree||Slightly Agree||Moderately Agree||Strongly Agree|
We spoke to Michael Padraig Acton, consultant and psychological therapist, about whether singing could make us happier, he said:
“From a psychological and scientific perspective, singing improves our mood because it really forces us to be mindful with our breathing. When we are belting out a tune, we simply have to breathe more deeply. This increases oxygen levels and sends a message to the brain that we are ready to calm down.
“Our heart rate slows, our blood pressure decreases as our blood vessels relax and we simply feel more at peace. Many people exacerbate feelings of anxiety by habitually breathing in a shallow way. Singing in any context retrains our bodies into breathing more effectively for our physical and mental well-being.”
Acton continued: “The interesting thing about singing in the shower is that we are combining the health benefits of deep breathing with hydrotherapy – ‘water therapy’. Now, it depends on the temperature of the water as to what specific health benefits you will enjoy. Do you turn up the heat or prefer a refreshing cold dowsing?
“A study carried out in 2000 found that immersion in cool water (around 14 degrees celsius) reduces the levels of cortisol, often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’. Again, this can reverse those unpleasant feelings we get when stressed (pounding heart, fast breathing, high blood pressure, etc.). At the same time, cold water relieves pain by increasing levels of dopamine, a natural painkiller and reducing inflammation.
“How about a hot shower? Well, hot water can also ease pain, albeit in a different way. Instead of numbing pain and reducing swelling, hot water increases blood flow. This has been shown to soothe aching joints and stiff muscles. So, it is mainly a matter of experimentation and personal preference as to whether we will be happier standing under a hot or cold shower. Either way, getting into the habit of singing while you’re scrubbing is definitely a great idea.”
Now we’ve heard from the expert, it’s time to see what our study found.
In the first week of the study, participants didn’t sing in the shower each day, and recorded their responses to the questionnaire after the shower. The answers were given scores from 1 to 6 as per instructions from the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire.
We aggregated the scores for each set of answers from each participant and worked out an average score per question and an overall score for the week (to negate particularly good or bad days).
On average for the week of showering without singing, participants recorded an overall score of 2.96 out of six. Scientist Steven Wright from Georgetown University’s Brain and Language Lab interprets the score as follows:
Our participants recorded an average score of 2.96, close to the border of both categories. Leaning more towards a neutral score – neither happy or unhappy, however recording a slightly more unhappy response on average. Below are the questions asked and the most common responses from week one.
For week two, participants were asked to sing while having a shower – any song of their choice – and all other conditions and requirements of the test remained the same.
Once scores for the week were analysed, the overall happiness score recorded in week two was 4.5 out of six, defined as:
Between four and five – Rather happy; pretty happy.
Participants recorded an average score in the middle of 4 and 5, with the most common answers given in week two being:
Across the board, participants recorded marginally more positive answers to the questions asked in week two, and scores recorded were on average 1.77 points higher on the scale.
The question which received the largest change in terms of sentiment was ‘I feel fully mentally alert’. In week one, participants recorded an answer of ‘moderately disagree’ which increased three ranks on the scale to ‘strongly agree’ in week two following a sing song in the shower.
An increase of two points on the scale was recorded in the questions where participants were asked the statement ‘I don’t feel pleased with the way I am’. Here, the answer changed from ‘slightly agree’ to ‘moderately disagree’. Elsewhere participants said they found life more rewarding (slightly disagree to moderately agree), felt happier (slightly disagree to moderately agree) and had more energy (moderately disagree to slightly agree) with all related questions improving by two ranks on the scale.
Overall participants recorded a happiness score that was on average higher across week two when singing in the shower, with increases specifically in how they felt within themselves both physically and mentally.
Now you know the benefits of singing in the shower, here’s how to make sure you do it right.
We spoke to vocal coaches, Natalie Farrell, who has 15 years of experience vocal coaching – some of her pupils have found themselves in film and even the West End – and Mark De Lisser, a renowned arranger, choral director and vocal coach. Mark is best known for his arrangement of Stand by Me for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018.
“Why do we sound better taking a wash? Interestingly when I think about this my mind immediately goes to the idea of self confidence. No one is looking/listening so I will really let rip and pretend to be a great singer. The premise of this freedom to sing in the rain (Gene Kelly style!) means that the inhibitions are quite literally being washed away allowing the shower songstress to join in with the sound and just have a go. Enjoy even.
“On another level, thinking of the acoustics within the bathroom. Generally a bathroom is a smallish room. And the shower itself acts like a sound booth very much like the one you would find in a recording studio. Therefore the sound once it has left the singers mouth rebounds back to them rather quickly there isn’t much space for the sound to reverberate out further than the warm (cold for Wimhoff lovers) sanctuary.
“The water itself I feel has no contributing factor in terms of a conductor for the sound waves and amplification but it does play the role of conductor on an energetic level. The water makes the person feel really clean and happy and empowered – a reset button almost, washing away their troubles – ‘taking a power shower’ and ‘cleaning up’ are some expressions which come to mind, offering the shower singer time to just sing and be content.
“When we feel content we find ourselves humming and feeling happy. Ever found yourself humming another time in the day out of the shower? I bet you sing more than you realise other times throughout the day too, listen out.”
“In a bathroom there are lots of hard surfaces; tiles, walls and glass, which create a natural reverb and echo making the voice sound bigger, fuller and weightier. Because your voice has reverb in this environment it simply does sound better.
“Most recording artists add reverb to their vocals or record in a reverberant space for this reason!”
Here’s what the experts recommend:
Us Brits are recommended to clean our shower head once every three months as a minimum but 1 in 3 of us doesn’t – with a further 1 in 7 admitting to never cleaning them at all.
The shower head is the perfect place for bacteria that can build up in any warm and wet areas, with some of it having the potential to include bugs that can make us ill. So while we may end up happier singing in the shower, we could be making ourselves ill if not following a cleaning routine in the bathroom as well.
Legionella bacteria can develop on the shower head, which could lead to Legionnaires’ disease, a serious lung infection.
The International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health conducted a study where researchers investigated homes in some of the hardest water areas of the South East of England. It found 6% of household showers tested had signs of bacteria links to legionnaires’ disease.
You can easily clean your shower head with household ingredients like vinegar or coca cola. Investments in water treatments like water softeners can work to reduce the build up of limescale in your system before it impacts your shower.
All 10 participants in the study spent five consecutive days showering without singing and following the weekend, five consecutive days singing in the shower. Each participant was asked to fill in an anonymous questionnaire directly after showering. We calculated the score as per instructions from the Oxford Happiness study (OHI). On occasions not all participants completed the questionnaire, in this instance we continued to take the average scores to negate any impact.
In order to analyse the change week-on-week, we took an average overall happiness score for both weeks and also took the average for each question over the week – placing this score against the interpretation instructions by the OHI. For analysis of the questions and the score, we rounded the average number to the nearest round number in order to place the number on the Likert scale for analysis against the answer statements.
Click to get in touch if you want some help or advice – contact us!