Whether you grew up in a "naked house" or still feel squeamish in the flesh even by yourself, reaching the point where you finally feel good in your own skin—without any sartorial accoutrements—is a liberating moment.
It makes sense, then, that the body seems to like being naked. A cursory review of the research aligns time spent in the nude with an increased sense of self-confidence and improved health. Scientists agree that sleeping naked is a good way to start, especially for male fertility. "Out of 500 men, they found those who wore boxers during the day and were naked at night had 25 percent less damage to their sperm compared to the guys who wore tight briefs or boxer briefs," said functional medicine expert Will Cole.
For women, sleeping naked allows your lady bits to breathe, and that's a good thing. Underwear that are too tight or that don't breathe fully will trap moisture, which could lead to bacterial or fungal infections. Sleeping naked helps everybody regulate temperature, which is the No. 1 controllable factor in getting a good rest.
If fewer infections and more shut-eye aren't enough to sell you, being seen in your birthday suit has emotional benefits. Provided you're in a safe, respectful space with others, seeing new body shapes and sizes different from your own can help you develop an appreciation for the human body, often minimizing any aesthetically oriented complaints you have about your own. The study found that being naked more often "predicted greater life satisfaction—a relationship that was mediated by more positive body image and higher self-esteem," as noted in the study.
Even if your nude experience is a bit more reluctant at first, like mine was, you'll learn something about yourself. Willow, founder of Naked in Motion Yoga, said she hears from students often about the ways in which doing yoga naked in a group setting has improved their self-esteem. "My experience with Naked in Motion was amazing," one student said. "The sensation of freedom from clothing is incredible. There was no judgment regarding body shape, skin color, or gender, and the class felt very natural. Your body connects to the ambience, and you perceive yourself in a new way during the workout because of the professionalism of the instructors," one student said. Willow herself was never a nudist. "I had been topless in public twice before, and then I attended only one naked yoga class before I started teaching," she said. "I've developed a significantly better relationship with my body and feel a great deal more confident and comfortable in my skin," she said.
Perhaps time spent naked is the form of self-care we're missing. "Nudity is absolutely a tool for a deeper level of self-discovery that I have a hard time accessing in any other part of my life doing any other activity," Willow said, and I have to agree. There's nothing like seeing body without its armor to soften, humble, and incite the feeling of being part of a tribe.