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Stripping down

The health pros and cons of sleeping naked.

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

couple in bed together with their bare legs out of the bedsheets

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, or trying to, at least. That’s why many people experiment with a variety of ways to get more shut-eye, from investing in a high-quality mattress and bedding, to using essential oils, to following guided sleep meditations and more. But what if the answer to a better night’s sleep was as easy as just sleeping naked?

Emily White, PhD, a Baptist Behavioral Health clinical psychologist who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine, weighed in on the benefits and drawbacks of snoozing in the nude.

“First and foremost, it’s important to point out that there isn’t much scientific research specifically on the effects of sleeping naked,” said Dr. White. “What you wear, or don’t wear, to bed is just one of the many factors that can potentially affect your quality of sleep. But experimenting and taking steps to improve your sleep quality can enhance your overall health, mood, memory, concentration, relationships and work or school performance, and there are some surprising potential perks of stripping down before bed.”

Beat the heat

Sleep cycles are regulated by the body’s circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock that carries out a variety of essential functions and processes.

As the day ends, melatonin production increases and core body temperature decreases, signaling it’s time for sleep.

“Body temperature regulation at night can greatly impact sleep quality,” explained Dr. White. “Overheating, whether it’s because your bedroom is too warm, blankets are too heavy or you’re wearing too many layers, is a common reason for restlessness. So sleeping naked may help your body stay cooler overnight. Taking your clothes off as you get ready for bed may also help your body cool down more quickly and help you to fall asleep faster.”

Dr. White added, “We get less slow-wave (deep) sleep when overheated. We also spend less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep if our environment is too warm.”

Slow-wave and REM are different stages in the sleep cycle that both serve important functions for:

  • Boosting immunity
  • Facilitating body recovery
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Regulating physical processes like blood pressure, etc.

Human touch

“Sleeping nude may be helpful for couples who share a bed,” said Dr. White. “Skin-to-skin contact can boost levels of oxytocin, otherwise known as the happy hormone. Sleeping naked may also strengthen your bond and facilitate intimacy with your partner.”

Sans underwear

Regardless of what women wear during the day, going nude at night is a way to increase vaginal health, as spending too much time in tight-fitting or synthetic clothing can be a risk factor for yeast infections. Wearing no underwear, or looser underwear, overnight may also help reduce the risk of yeast infections for women who frequently wake up with damp clothing from sweating.

Dr. White added, “Sleeping naked may be good for men’s health, too, as tight-fitting clothing and underwear is suggested to be linked with lower sperm counts or reduced sperm quality.”

Layer by layer

Overheating isn’t the only thing that can disrupt your slumber. It’s possible to get too cold while sleeping, which is more likely to happen when you don’t have anything on.

“In general, being too cold tends to be less disruptive to sleep than being too warm,” Dr. White said. “You may have to adjust the amount of bedding you use at night to avoid this problem. Having several layers of blankets nearby to add as needed can help, too.”

Making the change

For those who choose to sleep in the buff, there are some things to make sure of beforehand. A few tips include:

  • Setting the bedroom temperature between 60 and 70 degrees, the optimal range for sleep
  • Taking a shower before bed to promote hygiene and help sheets last longer between washes
  • Washing the bedsheets at least once a week

“As a word of caution, it’s best to avoid a very hot bath or shower right before bed,” Dr. White said. “Your core body temperature naturally starts to decline a few hours before bed and continues to decline overnight as you sleep. Too hot of water can cause your core temperature to rise instead of fall. If your internal body temperature is too high at bedtime, it may be harder for you to fall or stay asleep.”

Dr. White concluded, “Choosing to sleep naked is a personal preference. Do whatever works best for you. If you’re comfortable with the idea of sleeping nude, try it out, as there are few risks to doing so. But if it sounds unappealing, you aren’t alone. Most people wear at least some clothing to bed. Even if you choose to not sleep fully nude, it may be helpful to lower the thermostat in your bedroom, wear lightweight pajamas or use fewer covers to see if your quality of sleep improves.”

If you are having problems sleeping, call Baptist Behavioral Health’s Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at 904.376.3800.

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