Whose idea was it to have special clothes for sleeping? Beds have covers to provide comforting heat when it’s cold. Robes get those who are modest about being nude through a midnight bathroom visit with obliging the wearer to keep it on for slumber.
Even though sleeping is really a “clothing optional” activity, the sleepwear industry grew 18.8 percent in 2017. This number includes much more than pajama sales – it includes lingerie, nightgowns, robes, and slippers.
Why do we buy our children one-piece PJs with cartoon character feet every winter? Why not save money by letting the kids strip and sleep naked? And why don’t you?
A 2012 phone survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that national culture influences the decision about sleepwear. Only 9 percent of Germans reported that they sleep with nothing on versus 30 percent of United Kingdom residents. The U.S. and Mexico both have 12 percent of their people retiring with no clothes, and Canada’s rate slightly higher at 14 percent.
Some people just can’t stand the idea of going to bed without donning some article of apparel – even a T-shirt. But once undercover – so to speak – the clothes might come off. Odds are that the younger of an adult you are, the more likely you don’t even own a two-piece pajama set with buttons, a collar, and little fire trucks printed on it.
Sleeping in the altogether (as my mother used to say) is trending now. 25-year-old public health researcher Anna Swanson admits she enjoys sleeping without any clothes. “It feels natural because it is natural,” she observed.
In fact, more than half (58 percent) of the 1,015 Americans surveyed by Mattress Advisor said that they prefer to sleep in the buff. Evidently, younger folks are just saying no to the nightwear industry more than their elders. Consider that 65 percent of Millenials said they sleep without any clothes, compared to 45 percent of Gen Xers and 39 percent of baby boomers.
One interesting finding from the Mattress Advisor survey was that only about half (49 percent) of the respondents who sleep nude were single, while 72 percent were in some kind of interpersonal relationship. Perhaps it isn’t too surprising that “over half of partnered nude sleepers noted their other half also slept naked.”
The number one reason people surveyed said they sleep naked was comfort, plain and simple. More than half claimed they slept better without clothes and found the experience relaxing. Other reasons were to reduce night sweats and to let their skin breathe. 35 percent of the people with sleep partners said they liked the skin-to-skin contact.
Some of those surveyed didn’t want to wear clothes to bed since society required them to have them on all day. Others had no moral issues with sleeping clothesless. Many believed the practice is healthy.
It turns out the people in the last category are absolutely right: there are known health benefits to sleep without clothes. For one thing, you’ll get better quality rest and sleep longer without waking up during the night.
During sleep, the human body’s temperature drops as melatonin – the sleep hormone – releases. This gets us ready to shut our minds down and drift off to slumberland. Body temperature continues to fall until about 6 am when the brain starts producing cortisol, the steroid hormone that controls the sleep cycle. Staying cool is key to uninterrupted sleep. Pajamas keep you warm and increase the number of times you wake up in the night.
Melatonin levels have actually been linked to slowing the aging process. A Texas researcher discovered that the sleep hormone is also a powerful anti-oxidant that builds the immune system and fights several illnesses attributed to free radicals in the body, such as age-related muscular degeneration.
The body is able to regulate melatonin and growth hormone levels when unencumbered by clothing during sleep. Shucking the nightwear let your body regenerate overnight, keeping you looking young.
But wait, there’s more good news about sleeping in your birthday suit. Your skin – and especially your “private parts” – have a chance to air out when there is no underwear trapping moisture and growing bacteria that can lead to vaginal infections in women or jock strap itch for men.
Sleeping naked calms you down. Another hormone called oxytocin – the love hormone – relieves stress by lowering blood pressure and suppressing the production of cortisol (mentioned above – it is also known as the stress hormone because the body produces it when faced with a “fight or flight” situation).
A 2009 study from Sweden found that oxytocin levels were highest when “sleeping naked in bed with your partner as skin-to-skin contact stimulates the hypothalamus in the brain to release this hormone into the bloodstream.”
Sleeping without clothes may also help you lose weight because the body burns more calories due to a higher metabolic rate. Also, when cortisol production goes up because of interrupted sleep, the next morning you are more likely to have food cravings and eat unhealthy foods loaded with sugars and fats.
Tuck explains that “deeper stages of sleep release the leptin hormone which regulates your appetite. It’s important to enjoy an uninterrupted sleep in order to ensure sufficient leptin is released.”
Finally, sleeping naked is comforting – especially if you have a partner in bed. Skin-on-skin contact and cuddling lead to a more active sex life which promotes emotional bonding and closeness. People whose skin touches while asleep experience less cortisol production so they sleep better. Upon awakening, nude couples report higher esteem and confidence in each other.
Even if you sleep alone, increased confidence from sleeping in the buff can lead to higher wages and job promotions, according to an Australian study. You literally become comfortable in your own skin.