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Can Pajamas Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep?

The secret to being lulled under? Temperature regulation. However, pajamas come with pros and cons.

man sleeping in bed wearing eye mask
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Let's hope you're not here out of desperation — that it's not four AM wherever you are and this article is your last resort. If so, welcome; I'm sorry. If not, a-ha! You're intentionally awake but face struggles falling asleep. Sure, there are sleep aids, but perhaps your insomnia isn't that bad — maybe you're just brushing up on ways to get a better night's rest.

Well, you're in the right place. The pertinent information lies just ahead. Pajamas may aid be the assistance you've been seeking all along, but be warned: they aren't for everyone. (Hence why so many people sleep nude.) There are plenty of reasons why one might consider wearing a set —including warmth, comfort and routine — but routine wear leaves room for potential problems, too. Too far one way can throw off the body's natural flow.

The human body is regulated on an ongoing basis by what's known as our circadian rhythm, a cyclical chain of reactions to changes in light and temperature — aka our internal timekeeper. This subconscious cycle's responses manifest as shifts in mood, body and mental state. As night nears, for example, our bodies steadily drop in temperature. Or, as the sun rises, we wake, most times hungry. Our temperatures peak in the late afternoon and reach their lowest point in the wee hours of the morning — which is, oftentimes, the reason it's so hard to remove ourselves from the warmth of our beds.

The ideal room temperature, based on the temperature our bodies reach during rest, is between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This window can vary by a few degrees based on the individual, but it's nearly universal. Any higher and you'll toss and turn. Any lower and you'll feel disrupted, too. Pajamas could play a role in regulating your temperature, should you be more prone to being cold. If you run hot, avoid 'em. But it's not that simple. We break down this tug of war in further details below.

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Pajamas can help a scattered mind establish a manageable routine.

      "The sleep ritual: besides a cup of Sleepytime Tea and a good book, pajamas can totally be part of the winding down routine," Dr. Alex Dimitriu, who specializes in sleep and psychiatry, says. "PJs can certainly serve as a reminder for upcoming bedtime, much like taking off your work clothes at the end of the work day."

      Pajamas can be a signal to shut down phones and other screens.

          "Ideally screens disappear as the PJs come on," Dr. Dimitriu adds. If you slip into your PJs at, say, 9:00 PM — wow, early, I know — you'll probably be better about avoiding screens until you drift off, too. Read a book! Stargaze! I don't know.

          Pajamas offer comfort and a sense of calm.

          As much as temperature plays a role in getting a good night's rest, comfort proves key, too. Being positioned improperly or bothered by a body part being exposed (mmm, a snack for the monster across the room) can cause acute insomnia.

          Pajamas are hygienic (as long as you wash them, too).

          Our bodies release around 300,000 dead skin cells a night (30-40,000 an hour). They also produce around a quart of sweat each sleep cycle. So, if you're nude, those are going straight into your sheets. If you're wearing pajamas — moisture-wicking ones with solid breathability — they'll catch at least some of both.

          Pajamas are a sign of maturity — or at least a sartorial eye.

          There are entire companies dedicated to the clothing you don in the dark. If you pick out a nice set, not only will they be a comfortable companion but also something you won't be ashamed to answer the door in, if necessary. (See: a sleepy Steve McQueen in a set of paisley pajamas.)

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          End Clothing


          Pajamas could increase your body temperature.

          Just as forgoing pajamas may make you too cold, wearing them may make you too hot. Either end of the spectrum can disrupt sleep, which is a finicky yet necessary function of everyday life. In fact, there was an entire study done in 2019 on whether or not what we wear to bed is ruining our chance at a restful night's sleep. "Sleep disturbance in adults with no health concerns is often linked to the thermal environment," the study found.

          Pajamas made from synthetic fabrics are not fit for sleeping in.

          When purchasing pajamas, avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester, rayon or spandex. These do not breathe as well as natural textiles like wool or cotton and can cause the body to overheat, triggering insomnia. "Small, but statistically significant sleep benefits were observed for wool over cotton and polyester sleepwear for multiple sleep parameters, while neither cotton nor polyester was responsible for any statistically significant sleep benefit over the 11 sleep parameters examined," the aforementioned 2019 study revealed.

          Wearing pajamas may lower your sperm quality.

          Don't freak out yet. Just because you've been wearing boxers to bed doesn't mean your swimmers are bottom shelf. However, a study published in peer-reviewed medical journal Andrologia suggests "genital heat stress" can diminish sperm quality. They're primarily talking about extended periods of sitting — uh oh — and how it impacts sperm quality, but tight-fitting underwear are mentioned, too. If you choose to wear bottoms in bed, opt for something natural, loose and with plenty of air flow.

          Pajamas are bad for your relationship.

          A 2015 study found that skin-t0-skin contact between partners during sleep triggers the release of oxytocin, "a hypothalamic nonapeptide linked to increased levels of social interaction, well-being and anti-stress effects."

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