How What You Wear To Bed Can Improve Your Sleep, Your Relationship, And Your Health

Typically, all of us have a preference about what we wear to sleep that is established early in life, around our teenage years. When we are forced to sleep with or without our preferred pajamas underwear, or even completely nude, our sleep patterns can be completely disrupted resulting in a bad night’s sleep.

Not only is a great mattress important in making sure we get the restorative sleep we need, but all of the ingredients that contribute to our own unique sleep environment are essential, and our bodies don’t generally like change.

The mattress has to be comfortable and supportive, and typically we need to adapt to a new mattress for around two weeks before we can fully benefit from uninterrupted sleep, but then there are all of the other components, including sleepwear, that can make a difference.

If you have experienced a sudden change in the effectiveness of your sleep, and you are not getting the solid 7-9 hours of restorative rest you need, a few changes might just fix the problem. 

Getting a great night’s sleep, for example, requires a whole lot more than just scheduling a consistent bedtime. Developing excellent sleep hygiene and creating the right sleep environment, or “Z-Chamber” as we like to call it on the MBG site, takes into account light, temperature, and a lot more, and it can mean the difference between tossing and turning and a long night of deep sleep with plenty of REM of sleep. 

One of this critical elements: what you wear to bed. Choosing the right pajamas, opting to sleep naked, sleeping with or without socks- all of these considerations, in addition to having the perfect mattress, contribute to our state of wellness in king hours. 

A WORLDWIDE SURVEY REVEALED WHAT PEOPLE WEAR TO BED, AND IT’S PRETTY INTERESTING

In 2015 a survey was conducted that revealed what people around the globe actually wore to bed. More than half of women wore pajamas, while only 14% of them slept nude. Only 13% of men wore pajamas, but 31% slept nude. Only very small numbers of individuals surveyed wore heavier garments like sweatshirts of pants. 

About a third of respondents wore shorts or a t-shirt to bed. The survey clearly showed that a good chunk of our population wears some form of garment while sleeping. Other studies also show that people are very particular about the fabrics they enjoy exclusively while sleeping.

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CHOOSING PAJAMAS THAT SUIT YOUR PERSONALITY AND PHYSIOLOGY AND MAKE YOU SLEEP BETTER

Choosing pajamas to help support restorative sleep is surprisingly simple, and typically focuses on ventilation, and breathability of the fabric you choose. Passive respiration that supports our skin and helps keep our bodies cooler, or warmer, are all part of the equation.

First of all, try different configurations of sleep clothing elements. As a male, you may prefer to sleep with boxers or briefs only, as a female, you may opt out of a thong and into a loose pair of athletic shorts for example, to allow fabric to drape you rather than constrict or confine you. 

If you are a nude sleeper, then that’s an easy solution, but if you prefer to be ensconced and cuddled by fabric, including socks, always aim for the fabric type that feels good when gliding across your skin. 

The texture of the fabric you choose and its ability to move along your skin is important. You should choose sleepwear that feels immediately gratifying when you put it on, as undressing and changing into your pajamas is actually part of your sleep ritual, which contributes to the numerous cues which tell your body and brain that sleep is imminent.

Tip: Change into your sleeping garments about 30 minutes before bedtime, and if you shower or bathe before hand, cool down for 10-15 minutes before you put on your pajamas. This allows your body to first get warm from bathing, and then have a cool down phase which primes the brain to release sleep related hormones like melatonin and dopamine, preparing your body for sleep.

For fabric selection as an example, if you dislike the slippery and liquid like sensation of silk, for example, you’ll likely feel like you’re tossing and turning in a vat of olive oil while you stare at the ceiling. Being selective about what your sleep attire is made of can assist in regulating  body temperature during the night, which keeps you in deeper, restorative sleep. So consider the following fabrics.

 
  • Cotton: A natural fiber that is lightweight and is generally soft to the touch especially if it is finely combed cotton. It’s breathable, which promotes passive ventilation, and doesn’t tend to irritate the skin. However, cotton is not the best insulator and can feel quite cold in more temperate climates, especially without adequate coverings or blankets. It’s also not very good at wicking away moisture, so if you are a hot sleeper and tend to sweat heavily, it may not be the best choice.

  • Silk: This fabric is highly efficient at regulating body temperature: It can keep you warm when you’re cold and cool when you’re hot. The downside is that genuine silk is costly, especially mulberry silk,  and requires dry-cleaning. It tends to feel slippery, and may move around while you sleep.

  • Flannel: For colder months, a pair of pajamas made from this soft fabric may be perfect for you if you are a cold sleeper. It has a thicker, more felt like sensation. The material is comfortable and provides warmth and breathability, so it can help you stay warm and toasty without cooking you under your sheets.

  • Moisture-wicking: If you tend to get hot when you sleep—or if you perspire quite a bit, then moisture-wicking pajamas may be your best choice. These materials are designed to move water away from the skin, helping your body to regulate its own temperature by keeping the environment dry.

  • Bamboo. This natural fabric, generally made from the pulp of the hearty plant, has fibers that feel soft and silky on the skin, but not as slippery as silk. It naturally wicks away moisture, and maintains your body in a comfortable temperature range. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic and has anti-bacterial properties that are beneficial for allergy sufferers. Interestingly, it is 100% biodegradable.

  • Wool and fleece: While these fabrics will keep you very warm, they may actually promote overheating. And, wool may be very scratchy feeling upon the skin, causing itchiness that wakes you up during the night. Fleece doesn’t allow air to circulate, so you may find that it can heat you up and make you sweat.

Fit And Finish With Pajamas

When you are looking around for the perfect set of pajamas, think about more than just the fabric itself, too. How everything fits is mission critical, since looser pajamas move more easily over your body when you sleep, but can  tend to gather or bunch up during the night. 

Consider things like embroidered embellishments, buttons, snaps, and tags as well, since these elements can become an issue while you are sleeping and cause awakening that keep from you from staying asleep. Also, be sure that any elastic isn’t too tight, especially with men’s boxers, women’s shorts or underwear, and athletic tops and t-shirts. Keep it loose and comfortable, not fitted. 

Wearing Underwear To Bed

Many people like wearing their underwear to bed to keep things contained in the ranch so to speak, but this can actually bed a bad thing for your health and your sleep quality. Extremely constrictive underwear, above all, can breed bacteria for both men and women. Women are especially susceptible to vaginal irritation and inflammation while wearing tight underwear at night, largely due to heat and moisture retention. 

A fabric that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe can create discomfort and medical conditions such as yeast infections.

If you aren’t ready to let go of your underwear for bedtime, then follow some other best practices. Men and women alike should wear more loose underwear, such as cotton shorts. Avoid materials like nylon, which keep your skin from breathing at night and may create a breeding ground for bacteria and other skin irritations.

Bras are another problem with women that can impact sleep and create irritations observed only at night.  In fact, they can cause damage to your skin and even impede breathing during the night. In the past, women often wore their bras to bed with the false belief that it would help maintain their breasts’ shape over the years. Studies have shown that  this is false, and in fact, bras may prevent breasts from achieving a natural lift. 

 

Your Feet Need To Be Factored In, Too

About half of individuals surveyed do not cover their feet. The other half, though, seems wildly devoted to keeping their feet from freezing at night, a common complaint, even with mattress purchases. Warming mattresses that offer foot warming features are hugely popular now, but be advised that too much warmth your feet tricks your body into thinking its daytime and you can disrupt the entire chemical mechanism that tells your body it’s time to crawl into the cave and sleep.

Warming your feet with thick socks can actually cause your entire body to become too hot, altering the thermoregulating system in your brain. If you tend to get chilly while you snooze, slip on a pair of lighter, cotton socks at bedtime. This will actually increase your body temperature just enough to make you feel cozy.

Socks made of natural soft fibers such as merino wool or cashmere are considered ideal. They usually cost a bit more than cotton or synthetic fiber socks, but they are well worth the extra money. Make sure the socks you choose are not tight-fitting, which might constrict circulation and thus prevents blood flow and proper warming of your feet.

 

Consider Sleeping Naked

Believe it or not, sleeping in the nude can actually have some health benefits. If your body is overheated during sleep, it generally doesn’t produce adequate melatonin and growth hormone, both of which are essential for repair, detoxification of cells and anti-aging mechanisms that the body can execute. 

Sleeping naked helps ensure that your body temperature does not creep up during the night, since your entire body, meaning the entire expanse of skin acts as a ventilator, radiator, and air conditioning unit, without blocking its function with clothing. 

Growth hormone also plays a huge role in cellular metabolism, and sleeping in the nude can actually help improve your body composition, by redistributing fat and lean muscle appropriately. Finally, keeping cool by sleeping bare naked can even lead to longer, deeper sleep.

There are other health benefits that may be a direct benefit of sleeping in the nude, whether you’re with a partner or alone. By helping the body to stay cooler overnight, sleeping naked can help your body increase its stores of brown fat, a kind of fat that actually burns energy, in the form of calories, rather than storing it as ordinary fat does. 

Infants have stores of brown fat to help keep them warm, and recently scientists discovered that adults may also have it, which has led to a great deal of interest about the possible therapeutic benefits in managing weight and avoiding diseases such as type 2 diabetes. 

Research is still little elusive about exactly what benefits there may be in manipulating brown fat—there is still a great deal to learn about how it functions in adults, and whether it makes sense to try to increase or activate brown fat for health benefits. Early studies suggest that exposure to cold, including sleeping in a cool bedroom, may trigger brown fat to be active in burning calories, and may increase brown fat amounts.

Increasing brown fat may in turn help you shed weight and improve glucose levels and insulin function. In addition to keeping the temperature down in your bedroom, the cooling benefit of sleeping without clothing may be a way to contribute to effectively metabolizing brown fat.

Sleeping at the perfect body temperature has benefits, as well. Research has shown that the ideal skin temperature for sleeping is generally between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. At this range your body is most effective at “self thermo-regulating”, meaning you’ll have an easier time slipping into a state of deep REM sleep that rejuvenates you for the day ahead

Sleeping Naked Can Be Good For Your Relationship, Too

According to Psychology Today, if one recent survey is accurate, not many Americans are taking advantage of the benefits of sleeping in the buff. In its survey of 3,700 men and women, only 8% reported sleeping naked, while nearly three quarters—74%—crawled into bed in pajamas. It’s a proven fact that sleeping nude has benefits that may warrant stripping before bedtime.

From the standpoint of biology alone, it’s not surprising that sleeping naked can hav a profound effect on relationships: Sleeping skin-to-skin greatly increases the feeling of closeness and intimacy, both physical and emotional. Sleeping together naked increases a couples bond, and with all mammals, this can contribute to longer lasting monogamous relationships. 

Rather than relying on garments and fabric for extra warmth, naked sleepers are more likely to sleep closer together to keep each other warm, occasionally separating here and there to cool down. Being naked and physically close in bed together increases the frequency of sex, some else which feeds our bodies and minds, further enhancing bonding and strengthening relationships.

Sleeping in the nude with your partner may also contribute to greater sensations of happiness in relationships, as well. A survey conducted by Cotton USA, which promotes the use of U.S. cotton products around the world, examined the sleep habits of more than 1,000 British adults. Couples that made a habit of sleeping naked were more likely to report being smitten in their relationship, compared to couples who slept clothed. 

Skin-to-skin contact enhances the release of oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin influences emotions that influence social behavior and interpersonal connection, which in turn creates feelings of trust, ease, and stability between partners. 

Studies have shown that a boost in oxytocin levels makes us more sensitive to each others emotions and increases attraction between partners in long-term relationships. Oxytocin doesn’t just promote positive, relationship-enhancing emotions—it also provides benefits to physical health, such as reducing stress and anxiety levels, and even lowering blood pressure. 

Keeping Your Pajamas Fresh And Clean Is Important

If you do opt to wear clothing such as pajama to bed, make sure those pajamas you’re wearing don’t accumulate a lot of sweat and skin buildup. Not only does it make for a less pleasant experience, but wearing dirty clothes at night can actually increase the likelihood of  skin infections. 

Body oils and dead skin cells accumulate much faster  inside the clothes than during the daytime clothes we wear, and typically, we don’t wash and dry our sleepwear anywhere near as much as we do our daily clothing.

Failure to keep our sleepwear fresh can cause acne on your back and shoulders, and exposure to dirty clothes can cause a rash called contact dermatitis, which can end up creating raw, red skin that’s itchy, swelling, and irritated. Occasionally, dermatitis can create blisters or bumps that are filled with a clear, serous fluid as well. Be vigilant about the importance of caring for your sleepwear if you decide not to sleep in the nude.

Ear and Eye Coverings While You Sleep Can Help…A Lot

If you haven’t worked on perfecting your sleep hygiene regimen and creating your ideal Z-Cave, there are some things you can modify that will quickly improve your ability to get deep and restorative rest. We’ve all tried to fall asleep while there’s excessive light or sound around us,  and because we’ve generally begun to understand the importance of giving our bodies the right cues prior to bedtime, there are lots of new products which can help us fall asleep and stay asleep, too

Investing in an eye mask and ear plugs will eliminate distractions and help you sleep soundly, no matter what is happening around you.

If you are considering a sleep mask, find one that is soft and breathable and easily contours to your face to keep unwanted light out. Most sleep masks are made of natural materials like cotton and silk, or synthetic fibers like polyester. Choosing a durable and natural material will help you sleep the best, one that you can wash easily, has an adjustable fit, and provides zero light leakage. Read reviews if you need some direction, and focus on the reviews that talk about quantifying the amount of improvement a wearer has received by using the product.

You can even try weighted sleep masks if you’re a fan of weighted blankets, which some wearers say help them relax and sleep better.

Earplugs, too, can also prevent you from waking up prematurely. The best earplugs for sleeping are generally made of either foam or silicone, as they fit tighter without being uncomfortable. Silicone deadens the most sound, if you need absolute silence, go with silicone, as foam is more open cell in nature allowing some sound to get through.

Makeup

Some people may feel like they don’t have the energy to wash off their makeup after a long day’s work. However, falling asleep with makeup on your face can clog your pores and cause you to break out or even develop wrinkles sooner than you would.

Before you go to bed, use a gentle makeup remover on your face. You’ll know this works if you put a cotton pad on your skin and it comes back clean. After that, use a gentle face cleanser that will wipe off any remaining grime on your face. Using a hydrating moisturizer will also help relieve your skin from the drying properties of regularly wearing makeup and cleansing your face.