11 Benefits Of Sleeping Naked: Why It Might Be The Healthier Choice
People can be pretty particular about their sleep outfits: a trendy matching set, that old worn-in tee, or—one of the most controversial—the birthday suit. But are those who choose to snooze in the nude actually making the healthier choice, or does it just feel good?
Is it healthier to sleep naked?
Sleeping naked can speed up the body's natural cool-down process, which helps you not only fall asleep faster but also stay asleep. High-quality sleep leads to health benefits, like reduced stress, increased immunity, and improved metabolic health. Sleeping in the nude, alone or with a partner, can also bolster self-esteem, intimacy, and more.
The benefits of sleeping naked:
It might help you fall asleep faster.
According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, the human body drops in temperature during sleep1 and rises upon waking. "The optimal temperature for sleep is considered 65 degrees Fahrenheit," holistic psychiatrist and sleep expert Ellen Vora, M.D., once told mbg. Shedding layers (aka sleeping naked) can initiate that cool-down process, which can help you fall asleep more quickly.
Your sleep quality might improve—which can lead to other health benefits.
On the list of uncomfortable feelings, night sweats are pretty high up there. If you get too hot in the middle of the night, you're more likely to toss, turn, and even wake up to take off a few layers.
Sleeping naked from the start eliminates a layer of clothing that could make you too warm, functional medicine doctor and OB/GYN Wendie Trubow, M.D., tells mbg. This can promote higher-quality sleep throughout the night, which leads to further health benefits, like:
- Stress reduction: Studies have shown that sleep loss can lead to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol2 the next evening. Stress and anxiety, on top of lack of sleep, can also lead to mood changes 3and poor cognitive performance4.
- Improved metabolism: A study published in the journal Diabetes Care says irregular sleep patterns can increase the risk of metabolic disorders like obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol.
- Immune support: Sleep is essential for immune functioning. Integrative immunologist Heather Moday, M.D., once wrote, "While our body is resting, the immune system cells can also focus all efforts and energy on a strong attack against viruses and bacteria."
It's good for your skin.
Whether it's by regulating temperature or preventing annoying tangled clothes, sleeping naked can promote better sleep and therefore healthier skin. "I think, intuitively, we know that when our sleep suffers, our skin suffers," board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., said during a mindbodygreen podcast episode. By triggering the stress hormone and decreasing the amount of time spent in "recovery mode," the skin is more at risk of becoming dry, dull, or acne-prone.
Even more directly, tight clothing (especially when sweaty) can lead to back acne and butt acne. By sleeping nude, you avoid irritation from underwear or pajamas in those areas of the body.
It may promote vaginal health.
For people with vaginas, sleeping naked (or at least without underwear) can promote vaginal health by lowering the risk of developing yeast infections.
Yeast infections occur when the vagina experiences an overgrowth in yeast due to a change in pH, a hormonal imbalance, or an increase in moisture. "If you're wearing underwear that is synthetic, sleeping naked can allow the vagina to 'breathe,'" Trubow says. If you're not comfortable going commando, cotton underwear is best.
It might support male fertility.
A study published in the journal Human Reproduction, looked at 656 men seeking fertility treatment and found those wearing boxers had the highest sperm count5 compared to those wearing tight underwear. While there's no data to prove that sleeping naked can improve fertility, this research suggests looser fabric may be beneficial for sperm production—and what's looser than a birthday suit?
It can be a form of self-love.
"Sleeping naked has multiple psychological benefits," couples' therapist Alicia Muñoz, LPC, tells mbg. "It gives you a way to experience your skin directly and creates an opportunity for you to appreciate your body sensually. Just running your hands over your arms in bed, or allowing a hand to rest on your chest and belly, can be soothing to your nervous system, and can be a form of self-nurturing, especially when done mindfully," she explains.
It can help shatter negative body image and shame.
Many people, particularly women, have experienced overt or subtle body-shaming at some point in their lives. These negative messages can lead to sexual dissatisfaction and lower libido.
"Sleeping naked can actually counteract some of the negative messages you may have received in that environment as a child or adolescent—or still receive in a body-shaming culture with narrow definitions of what constitutes beauty," Muñoz says.
"When you give yourself a chance to be comfortable naked, even if it's alone in your own bed, you're actually sending your unconscious mind some important communications such as: You have a right to be in your body, your body doesn't always have to covered or hidden, and your body can feel unfettered and free," she says.
It might improve your relationship with your partner, too.
Sleeping naked can improve your relationship with your partner for a couple of reasons. When you begin to feel comfortable in your own skin, research shows you're more likely to experience sexual satisfaction6, Additionally, skin-to-skin contact releases the "love hormone" oxytocin, which can increase feelings of attachment between partners7.
Think about it: "If you wake up naked next to someone, it just makes sense that this might lead to greater intimacy," Trubow says. This may be especially enticing for people with physical touch as a love language.
Do you have to sleep completely naked to get the benefits?
Since most of the benefits of sleeping naked have to do with temperature regulation, wearing loose-fitting clothing could be similarly effective. If you're not comfortable going completely nude, try wearing a top with no bottoms or vice-versa. Other comfortable, cool items may include an oversize T-shirt or a nightgown. Opting for cotton undergarments is best, given the breathability of the fabric.
The bottom line
There are plenty of factors that may interfere with high-quality sleep, and your clothing may be one of them. Along with sleeping naked, these 15 tips may help improve your sleep.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.