Eighty-eight percent of Americans sleep with their clothes on. Why so shy? Turns out those cheeky types who prefer to sleep in the buff are doing something right.
Body temperature naturally declines during sleep in conjunction with the circadian rhythm. Going to bed clad in flannel—or sweats, or that extra blanket—can disrupt this natural process of thermoregulation and cause restlessness, and even insomnia. It can also inhibit the release of a growth hormone that helps the body to regenerate overnight, which over time, may translate to accelerated aging. It can also cause cortisol levels to spike, leaving the body in a state of panic that encourages it to store fat rather than burn it.
In one study published in the journal Diabetes, five healthy young males slept in climate-controlled chambers over four months. For the first month, the rooms were kept at a neutral 75 degrees, and then lowered to 66 degrees in the second month. The third month brought back the neutral temperature to undo any effects. Finally, researchers cranked the temperature up to 81 degrees during the fourth month. After the first month, the men had improved metabolism, which was undone after the final month of sleeping in warmer temperatures.
Since people’s average preferred room temperature generally hovers around the high 70s—well above the most beneficial temperature in the study—sleeping nude can help prevent the body from overheating while sleeping in an already relatively warm room.
Sleeping in the buff can definitely be healthier for private parts as well. For women, it keeps things cool and breathable down there, making the area less susceptible to yeast infections. For men, the consequences of being stifled by clothing during sleep are even greater. A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Stanford University of 500 men over 12 months found that those who slept in boxers or pajamas experienced inhibited sperm production—but fortunately, this could be remedied by going commando at night.
And speaking of making babies, partners who sleep together naked can experience all kinds of benefits. Constant skin-to-skin contact can trigger the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone” known to bring on bliss. Pair that with the convenience of already being undressed, and you may not even need to cue a Marvin Gaye jam—a healthy sex life becomes inevitable. And since getting it on can regulate mood, boost immunity, and even make you run faster, that might be reason enough for anyone to bare it all before bed.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho