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Is it healthy to sleep naked?

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Wait, Is It Healthy to Sleep Naked? Experts Share the Pros and Cons

Stripping down at night just might lead to better workouts the next day. Here's why.

By Michele RossJanuary 12, 2024

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It’s clear that all things wellness and biohacking will continue to trend for the foreseeable future. One element on many people’s radar right now is the quest for better sleep, especially as it relates to improvements in physical performance. But instead of investing in new gadgets and gizmos to get there, it might help to (literally) strip things down and go back to basics. One oh-so-simple hack you may want to adopt for better sleep—and therefore better physical health and fitness—is sleeping naked.

You might be wondering, how is it healthy to sleep naked? Ahead, we got sleep experts to break down the benefits, as well as who might be better off staying clothed while catching nightly Zzzs.

How Temperature Affects Sleep

Temperature is one of several factors that can have a significant impact on your circadian rhythm (aka your internal clock that dictates your sleep-wake cycles). But it’s not just the temperature of your bedroom environment that matters; your core body temperature should also cool off, letting your body know it’s nearing bedtime.

“During the evening, our bodies naturally anticipate a decrease in our core body temperature by a few degrees as the surrounding air cools down with the setting sun,” explains certified pediatric and adult sleep consultant Kelly Murray, FDN-P. “This drop in core temperature also signals our body to produce melatonin,” the sleep hormone that helps us drift off into dreamland.

Simply put, if your body is too warm or too cold—whether influenced by the temperature of your room or personal factors such as illness or post-exercise heat—chances are your sleep quality will take a hit. As such, experts say the best temperature for sleep ranges between 60 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit, with 67 degrees being a popular sweet spot for most to boost comfort, support thermoregulation, and reduce the likelihood of experiencing night sweats. (Per a 2023 study published in Science of The Total Environment, adults 65 and older may experience more efficient and restful shuteye at a higher bedroom temperature range of 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Sometimes, you might not be able to change your thermostat, or you’ll otherwise need to employ different methods to encourage your core body temp to drop. Enter: sleeping in the nude.

Is Sleeping Naked Healthier?

Sleeping naked has the potential to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep, and thus your physical fitness and overall health. However, the perks of sleeping naked won’t apply to everyone, without fail, across the board.

“Research indicates that sleeping naked may be conducive to restfulness,” says Nilong Vyas, MD, a board-certified pediatric sleep coach and founder of the family sleep consulting service Sleepless in NOLA. “There are no definitive rules regarding what to wear to bed, [so long as you] maintain an appropriate body temperature.”

If you struggle to fall asleep upon crawling into bed and/or wake up a few too many times during the twilight hours—namely on account of overheating or similar discomforts—there’s a good chance you’ll find that sleeping naked will work to your benefit. (Even better: More zzzs can also help you stay more alert, energized, and motivated to work out the next day and help your muscles recover thereafter.)

Benefits of Sleeping Naked

Sleeping naked

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Sleeping in the nude can yield a bunch of perks for some people, positively affecting sleep quality, comfort, workout recovery, and more. Here are some of the biggest benefits of sleeping naked:

It Helps With Temperature Regulation

As detailed above, the temperatures of your room and your body have the ability to make or break your sleep. “Sleeping in the buff is great for those who tend to feel warm,” Murray notes. “When you give your skin the freedom to breathe without clothes, it stops heat from getting trapped by fabric, which means improved thermoregulation and fewer sweaty moments during sleep.”

It Can Boost Physical Health and Fitness Markers

If you’re trying to hack your workout regimen and recovery, sleeping naked can be a helpful part of your regimen. “The act of disrobing for sleep may contribute to optimal sleep quality, which could subsequently enhance one's endurance, muscle recovery, and stamina,” Dr. Vyas explains. “Therefore, it is prudent to consider sleeping unhindered (aka naked) as a potential means of improving one's sleep quality.”

As Murray explains, the quality of your shuteye has a major bearing not only on muscle recovery but also growth. “When you’re in the deep sleep stages at the beginning of the night, your body releases growth hormones that help your muscles heal and grow stronger. In fact, it is estimated that 75 percent of human growth hormone (HGH) is released while we sleep.” 

But high-quality sleep is just as crucial for your mind as it is for your body. A night of R&R will allow you to recharge so you’re energized, alert, and in good spirits for your sweat sesh the next day. 

“Sleep helps regulate important hormones that influence your mood and motivation,” Murray continues. “When you're well-rested, you're more likely to feel upbeat and ready to take on the day, including your workout routine.” Moreover, feeling rested and positive can make it easier to stick to your fitness routine and conquer your goals. “You'll find yourself looking forward to those workouts, staying consistent, and pushing yourself to new heights because you've got that extra pep in your step—all thanks to a good night's sleep,” she adds.

It’s Freeing

Some people feel extra cozy sleeping with a full pajama set, while others may find the extra fabric too constrictive. Those in the latter camp are likely to benefit from sleeping naked, as it “offers a sense of freedom and comfort for those who feel a bit restricted by clothes,” Murray explains. It has the potential to “bring a feeling of freedom and unencumbered relaxation, potentially enhancing the overall quality of sleep.”

It Can Boost Intimacy

Fun fact: Sleeping nude next to your partner can foster feelings of closeness and comfort—all the while helping to lower stress levels and setting up the stage for a good night’s rest. Oxytocin (commonly referred to as the love hormone) is released upon skin-on-skin contact. This applies whether that’s through hand holding, gently grazing each other’s skin as you drift off to bed, or any other number of innocent (and yes, sometimes “naughty”) activities.

If you or your partner sleep in the buff, there’s a greater surface area exposed for low-intensity stimulation via the skin—and thus a greater chance of benefiting from oxytocin’s bonding, calming, feel-good benefits.

Tips for Sleeping Naked

“The ideal sleep environment is like a little comfy cave: cool, dark, and quiet,” Murray explains. That said, if you’ve yet to disrobe for the sake of better sleep and want to get started, amplify the benefits by adopting a few more sleep-friendly hacks:

  • Cool things down. Lower your thermostat to your desired temperature. It can also help to keep a fan running or leave a nearby window cracked to facilitate extra air flow.

  • Create darkness. “Total darkness is our body’s main cue that it is nighttime. When our body senses that there is an absence of light, it triggers the production of melatonin,” Murray says. On the flipside, she notes, even the smallest hints of light—especially those from indoor or outdoor lamps, TVs, phones, and even tiny light sources like from an alarm clock or other devices—can cause us to stay alert instead of becoming restful. “To keep your bedroom void of all light, invest in high-quality blackout curtains and cover any LED lights with blackout stickers or black electric tape,” she suggests.

  • Control sounds. External sounds—whether from the street, a noisy neighbor, or a partner who snores—can end up disrupting your sleep even if you have the previous hacks covered. If these unwanted noises are standing in your way of a good night’s rest, Murray recommends introducing some sleep-friendly sounds to your bedroom environment. “Sound machines come in handy by generating soothing low-frequency sounds like brown noise or the gentle hum of a fan,” she explains. “These not only help block out those irritating external noises but also work wonders in calming your busy brain for a more peaceful sleep.” You can also stream similar calming soundscapes via apps on your phone or computer—so long as you can only hear (and not see) any activity playing out.

  • Invest in soft, natural bedding materials. Your best bet is to seek out duvets, comforters, sheets, and the like that are soft and breathable. “Choose bedding made of natural fibers such as organic cotton, tencel, or bamboo that allow heat to escape and wick moisture,” Murray advises.

Reasons You May Want to Stay Clothed for Sleep

While sleeping naked can improve your sleep, expedite your physical fitness goals, and yield other benefits, it bears repeating that it won’t prove to be beneficial for everyone. Here’s why:

You Like the Feel of Cozy Fabrics

Again, just as some people could enjoy the freedom and release of sleeping nude, others tend to revel in the comfort of a nice PJ or sweatset. (I, for one, love cuddling up under a hoodie during the colder months of the year.) “Some folks might prefer to skip sleeping naked because they simply feel cozier and more at ease with their favorite sleepwear on,” Murray says.

Tip: If you run hot at night but aren’t ready to sleep in the buff, you may want to prioritize (as well as steer clear) of certain sleepwear materials. “Overheating can reduce sleep quality; thus, wearing light and soft materials against the skin is ideal,” Dr. Vyas shares. Moreover, a 2019 study published in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep found statistically significant benefits for adult participants who slept in moisture-wicking wool versus polyester or cotton—especially those who were older and had existing sleep issues. (However, if night sweats and temperature regulation aren’t issues for you, continue to throw on jammies in any fabric of your choosing.)

You Feel Safer and More At Ease with Clothes On

Sleepwear can simply make you feel more comfortable when you’re in bed, regardless of the season and which fabrics you choose. Murray says it all boils down to personal comfort. You may feel more at ease fully clothed at night for any number of reasons, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Having your kids walk into your room unannounced

  • Having self-esteem or body issues (whether or not you sleep with a partner)

  • Being prone to sleepwalking

  • Being raised in a society in which nudity is taboo

“Some people find comfort and security in wearing pajamas or other sleep attire, which helps them unwind and snooze peacefully through the night,” Murray notes. That said, it’s neither inherently wrong nor right—nor inherently beneficial or disadvantageous—to sleep naked or clothed. “Our body and brain need to feel safe to sleep well. For some people, wearing clothing to bed brings them peace of mind.”

The Takeaway

Sleeping naked might be the magical hack you’ve been searching for to boost the quality of your shuteye and workouts—but for most people, it’s more likely to be just one small part of a larger puzzle. The process of sleep is complex and its quality is multifactorial; it takes a team effort across diet and lifestyle—and mind and body—to improve significantly.

Remember, just because your friend or partner sleeps and feels better by sleeping in the nude doesn’t mean that you will too. When it comes to sleep, fitness, and any other aspect of your health and well-being, it’s crucial to honor your personal circumstances and needs.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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