Usually, if I sleep naked it’s because I was too tired/lazy to put on my pajamas. On a typical night, I slip into my favorite old T-shirt and worn-in sweatpants and get all cozy. But on the nights I sleep naked, I’ve noticed I tend to wake up more refreshed. (Or, at the very least, I don’t stare at the ceiling for two hours in the middle of the night.) So, does something happen to your body when you sleep naked?
The truth is there are many factors involved when it comes to falling asleep, staying asleep, and being able to get out of bed the next morning without requiring one or two cups of coffee.
Experts say it all starts with “good sleep hygiene.” This includes setting the thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees (the ideal sleeping temp), turning off bright lights, and doing something relaxing before bed. It also means repeating this process every night so your body can fall into a routine, and that includes choosing a bedtime and sticking with it—even on the weekends.
Sleeping naked isn’t necessary, but it is a habit that may contribute to better rest when paired with these other tricks. It also happens to offer a few more benefits beyond good sleep. So, if you're curious about what happens to the body when you sleep naked, read on below.
Your body temperature regulates
If you tend to feel more comfortable sleeping naked, it probably has a lot to do with “thermoregulation,” which is a fancy way of saying “maintaining temperature.” Basically, “the body has the ability to keep its ideal temperature of 98.6 degrees while we are awake,” Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach, tells HelloGiggles. “That said, when we go to sleep, our body and brain begin to rest, and our body instinctively lowers its temperature.”
Studies have proven that you need to cool off in order to get good sleep. But sometimes that process gets interrupted when you’re wearing too many layers—like underwear, socks, pajamas, etc. “By having clothing on, you are essentially restricting this process of lowering the temperature,” Fish says. Not to mention that the heat increases your chances of having night sweats, which might explain why you wake up at 2 a.m. in a pile of damp sheets. Gross.
You fall asleep faster
Extra body heat may very well be what’s preventing you from falling asleep at night, especially in the summer. And it’s why Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi, the cofounder of Honeybee Health, actually recommends sleeping naked. “This is especially helpful if you have a hard time falling asleep quickly,” she says.
By stripping down, your body will do its thermoregulation thing, and you’ll find that you actually get sleepier quicker as a result. While you can achieve the same result by turning on a fan or flipping on the A/C, sleeping naked is an easy (and free) option, if you’re interested in giving it a try.
You toss and turn (in a good way)
Ever wake up in the middle of the night with your pajamas twisted weirdly around your legs or with your shirt bunched up underneath you? Stripping out of your clothes will prevent this from happening. “When we sleep, we tend to move around a bit throughout the night, adjusting our sleep positions,” Fish says. You won’t be jarred out of a deep, refreshing sleep by the need to readjust your pajama bottoms, which can improve your overall quality of sleep.
You feel less stressed
Do you sleep next to a partner? If so, climbing into bed naked can mean boosting your oxytocin levels, all thanks to skin-on-skin contact. “Oxytocin is the feel-good hormone,” Giuseppe Aragona, M.D., tells HelloGiggles, and it’s released when you cuddle up with someone, especially if you’re extra close.
Of course, getting a better night’s sleep in general—however you go about it—will help you feel less stressed, too. And that, in turn, can reduce your risk for major health problems, including heart disease. Pretty cool, right?
Your vagina has a chance to air out
If you sleep naked, you’ll actually be doing your nether regions a favor. “By not having fabric covering your private areas, you are removing that layer of underwear that houses bacteria, which can result in infection,” Fish says.
Sleeping naked is beneficial, too, if you tend to experience pain in the vulvar region, Dr. Shweta Pai, a medical doctor with Love Wellness, tells HelloGiggles. Sleeping naked, or simply without underwear, may be enough to help improve symptoms of itching or pain in that area.
Of course, it’s possible you’ve been sleeping with underwear on your whole life and have never had a problem. But this is a helpful option for some. “By removing your underwear and sleeping naked,” Pai says, “you can help decrease this irritation, as there is less rubbing to this area of sensitive skin.”
All of that said, it’s still completely up to you to figure out what feels most comfortable and what you like best. And if that means pulling on a cute pair of pajamas before bed, so be it.