I savor the nightly moment when I trade hardware for softened awareness of the world beyond my immediate environment. I exhale, loudly and bodily, as I tunnel my toes under fresh sheets and unplug from the day. I tend to relieve myself of my clothing, too. Which is to say, I sleep naked.
I’m not alone, though it’s hard to tell how many of us are out there. At least one survey says half of U.S. adults eschew PJs in favor of their birthday suit. Some say sleeping in the buff increases the release of the anti-aging hormones melatonin and growth hormone, for premium beauty Zs. A 2015 study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Stanford University found that men who wore boxers by day and nothing at night had reduced DNA fragmentation in their sperm, improving chances of conception.
Research shows that ditching pajamas improves the body’s ability to regulate temperature: a major factor in deeper sleep, since overheating at night inhibits natural healing and restorative processes. Excess sweating may reduce the release of human growth hormone, a catalyst that, under optimal conditions, helps repair cells by smoothing out wrinkles and soft spots. Beauty rest, it turns out, is best in the buff. A nude night’s sleep is also said to improve blood circulation (no tugging waists or twisted seams), keep nether regions drier and cleaner, and control cortisol levels known to trigger sugar cravings, hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Those of us in the naked camp are onto something. In a world where you’re only as healthy as your superfood stack, what if the best natural supplement was free?
Regardless, what I really revel in is the blankness, the reprieve from brands. In the past, I’ve held varying opinions about sleepwear. I’ve nodded off in many a threadbare tee, stretched to perfection, original graphic faded into memory. And I’ve splurged on matching sets in high-tech silk and soothing organic cotton, the kind of civil loungewear one reasonably expects to confer a luxuriously well-rested state of being. But in our era of always-on outfits, of constant primping and preening for the cyber crowd, is there anything so analog, so simple and relaxing, as crawling under the covers with nary a single stitch on?
Even for those of us who relish getting dressed each morning as a necessary armoring up to face the day, shedding that skin in the evening is cathartic. With so much of our lives spent in front of screens, swimming in chemicals and logos, it makes sense to crave a sense of blankness — and there’s no better place to find it than laid bare, just bathed, under a linen blanket.
My computer-addled brain increasingly believes that the most important relationship of all is the one with my bed, and I’m not about to take this particular love affair for granted. So for the sake of deep, restorative sleep and quality time with my mattress, I’m flinging my underthings into the laundry and calling it a night.