Even if you’re a habitual pajama wearer, you’ve probably heard someone swear up and down about the benefits of sleeping naked. It’s freeing, it’s sexy, it’s somehow not as cold as you think it would be, they say. But is it right for you? After all, nighttime nudity seems to be one of those things that people are either totally in favor of or just can’t get behind.
For some people, it’s simply a matter of personal preference—they don’t want to overheat in bed, or they like sleeping skin-to-skin with their partner, or maybe they’ve just never found a pair of pj’s that is actually all that comfortable.
But what about the alleged health benefits of sleeping naked? Some people believe that going commando at bedtime comes with a range of perks—a few of which might surprise you. So can this practice really help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, bring you closer to your partner, or even improve your vaginal health?
While there’s not a whole lot of scientific research on the effects of sleeping naked, what you wear—or don’t wear—to bed is only one of many variables that could potentially affect the quantity and quality of your rest. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine1 recommends around seven to nine hours of sleep each night for most adults, though that’s a general number, and getting more or less than that can still be healthy based on various factors. But we do know that quality sleep, overall, is crucial for good health, and consistently not getting enough of it has the potential to impact your physical and mental health in multiple ways, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With that said, there are lots of ways to optimize your sleep for the best rest possible, and each person will have to experiment with what works for them. What you choose to wear to bed may seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of sleep hygiene, but it’s possible it can play a role for some people. So, here’s everything you need to know about the potential benefits of sleeping naked.
Is it healthy to sleep naked?
There isn’t much data specifically looking at the health benefits of sleeping naked, but if you find that sleeping in the nude leads to better quality or quantity of sleep for you, then it can absolutely improve your health. Disrupted sleep has been associated with an increased risk of health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, according to the CDC. So, really, whatever helps you sleep at night (including a lack of clothes) can also help your health.
So what about those claims that sleeping sans underwear will help your vaginal health? While it’s true that spending too much time in tight-fitting or restrictive clothes can be a risk factor for yeast infections, there’s no data to show that people who sleep naked get fewer vaginal infections. Again, if it works for you, great! But if you’re prone to yeast infections, keep getting them, and wonder if changing up your sleeping gear could help you out, a good bet would be making sure you’re wearing cotton underwear and checking in with a health care provider to find out what’s going on.
If you have an inflammatory skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, it’s possible that sleeping naked can be helpful for your skin, particularly if you have lesions (dry or scaly patches) in areas where your clothes rub. “Sleeping in the nude may give your skin a break, allowing it to breathe and repair while you sleep,” board-certified dermatologist Rhonda Q. Klein, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.D., partner and co-owner at Modern Dermatology PC in Connecticut, tells SELF. Just make sure you clean your sheets with hypoallergenic detergent as often as you would your pj’s.
Finally, let’s talk relationship health. The sleeping-nude-is-good-for-your-bond claim typically hinges on the role of skin-to-skin touch, which has been shown to increase the release of oxytocin, according to research published in Psychosomatic Medicine.2 But every couple is going to have their own comfort levels when it comes to sleeping naked. Maybe it’s what feels most natural to both of you, so there’s no question you’ll sleep naked and cuddle basically all night long. Maybe you get your best rest in loose, comfy pj’s, but your partner loves to sleep naked. Maybe you sleep in separate beds so what you each wear to bed has less of a physical impact on the other! When it comes to your relationship, what you wear to bed is just one potential factor that contributes to the strength of your bond.
Can being naked help you sleep better?
You may be wondering if there’s any special magic that makes people sleep better when they’re naked. While that doesn’t seem to be the case, it’s possible that sleeping naked can help with body temperature regulation at night, which impacts sleep quality. Research published in Ergonomics3 suggests that the easiest way to keep your body thermoregulated is to have as few things to bypass as possible, which includes your clothes, explains Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. So, theoretically, sleeping naked can be helpful there. Of course, if you live in a cold climate and don’t want to crank up your heat to compensate for sleeping naked, this may have the opposite effect and leave you too cold to sleep, so it’s still somewhat up to personal preference.
Sleeping naked may also help you fall asleep faster due to temperature changes. As SELF previously reported, our bodies generally experience a drop in temperature at night, which can help signal to the body that it’s time to sleep. And stripping off your clothes when you get into your bedroom would likely help your body cool down pretty quickly, which could then help you to fall asleep faster.
What should you wear to bed if you don’t sleep naked?
For people who love to jump into jammies come bedtime, the most important thing is to be comfortable. Light and loose fabrics are key, because no one likes to be hot and sweaty when they’re trying to sleep (plus, heat and sweat can exacerbate certain skin conditions).
“Silk and cotton are both hypoallergenic and very breathable fabrics, making them great for hours of sleeping,” says Dr. Klein. Dr. Breus is a big fan of cotton for sleepwear. “It’s easy to maintain and very breathable,” he says. Plus, it’s perfect if silk is too high-maintenance for you.
How you take care of your nightwear (and your sheets) is also super important. For anyone with sensitive skin, Dr. Klein advises using a fragrance-free detergent. And skip the dryer sheets—use chemical-free wool dryer balls instead. These soften fabrics naturally and won’t affect the absorbency of your clothing and bed linens.
So, is it better to sleep naked? Like so many other factors when it comes to sleep, it really comes down to personal preference. If you like to get cozy in your flannel pajamas, carry on. But if sleeping nude helps you get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, don’t let anybody stop you.