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Sleeping Nude: Liberating or Unhygienic?

Sleeping Nude: Liberating or Unhygienic?
March 25
10:32 2020

By Jacob Gallagher

LIBERATING

To Noah Grosshandler, sleeping nude feels freeing. For three years now, the 24-year-old technology project manager in New York has shed the boxers and T-shirts he once wore to bed to go au naturel. He just finds slumbering in the buff more comfortable than wearing bunchy underwear. And while he isn’t convinced that nudity improved the quality of his shut-eye, he fears switching back would erode it. “If I went back, I think I would probably sleep worse.”

Every night, men and women around the U.S. make the same choice as Mr. Grosshandler. A 2018 survey by the sleep-accoutrement reviewer Mattress Advisor found that 58% of the 1,000 participants slept completely nude.

According to Dr. Chris Winter, a neurologist and sleep doctor in Charlottesville, Va., getting under the covers naked could enhance your sleep. “Your body temperature changes throughout the night,” he explained, so if you go to bed wearing warm pajamas or even boxers (depending on how hot your bedroom is) your body temperature might start too high. As it ticks up, so will your discomfort.

Many of the nude sleepers I spoke with had strong feelings about their bedding. Blake Kim, 27, a startup entrepreneur in New York City, praised his “soft cover and duvet,” which he would rather experience naked. In the winter, he tosses on an electric blanket, compensating for the loss of the swaddling sweatpants he used to wear. Daniel Bernardo, 37, a Manhattan-based life coach, had similarly fond words for the comforter that hugs him when he’s sleeping bare. Comfort and an aversion to encumbrances drove his decision to go nude at night. “I toss and turn,” he said, and so “felt twisted up in the stuff that I wore.”

Every time he’d roll over, his shirt would get caught and disturb his sleep—a problem that’s history now that he rests in the raw.

UNHYGIENIC

In the winter, Kevin Wang needs his pajamas. The corporate strategist at a New York hospital has a wife who “likes to take the covers.” The armor of his flannel PJs protects him when he loses control of the comforter and becomes exposed to the crisp, sleep-compromising air. Some could say that Mr. Wang, 28, should just turn his heat up, but he says he’d rather avoid that, a decision both the eco-conscious and the budget-conscious could endorse. In the summer, Mr. Wang subs out full-length bottoms for boxers, which “just seem more hygienic” than going nude.

According to Dr. Winter, hygiene fears are not mere alarmism. If you took a black light to the sheets of a nude sleeper, he explained, you might detect fecal matter or urine. If those concerns are enough to keep you up in the middle of the night, his advice is to-the-point: “Maybe just put on a pair of shorts or something.” And to that end, wash your sheets regularly.

Hygiene concerns aside, sleepers who favor clothing feel that even a threadbare pair of boxers or a ratty old T-shirt can prevent awkward moments at 2 a.m. Neil Straghalis, 49, a San Francisco designer with young children, explained that “there’s often nighttime traffic” in his bedroom. If you’re getting up in the wee hours to deal with a rambunctious kid, you might feel more comfortable in at least a pair of underwear. Members of childless couples, it seems, have no such worries—several I spoke with noted that both they and their significant others sleep in the buff.

Even devoted naked sleepers find that their strategy falters when they’re outside their own home. “If I’m a guest in someone’s house, I’ll wear just a pair of boxer briefs,” said the life coach Mr. Bernardo. That way he doesn’t risk a mortifying, risqué run-in with his host en route to the bathroom.

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