5 surprising health benefits of sleeping naked; science-backed!

Emeh Joy
By Emeh Joy

Basic medical scientist, health research writer with experience writing for health brands like Dentistry Brands LLC and KompleteCare.

Sleep is so important that it can make or mar our day. When accompanied by sweet dreams, sleep is even more blissful. But, how about experiencing the added benefits of sleeping naked?

A woman sleeping naked on the bed

Humans spend about one-third of their life sleeping or attempting to sleep.1 It is essential that every adult gets at least 7 hours of sleep every night. But, aside from the number of hours you sleep, the quality of the sleep you get also matters. 

About 65% of Americans agreed that they would be more likely to exercise if they had a good sleep the night before.6

Almost everyone will want to sleep for longer. Many wake up in the morning craving an extra hour of sleep but are forced to leave bed because of daily engagements. While it is not always possible to get an extra hour of sleep, one thing that is possible is getting quality sleep. 

This means we should make good use of the limited time we have to sleep by eliminating anything that will reduce our sleep's quality. And to point out one thing that reduces sleep quality, Katie Mellot of Slumber Cloud said, "We've found that a common cause of poor sleep is due to waking up too hot". 

This article will discuss what happens during sleep, why people need sleep, and the unknown benefits of sleeping naked. 

What happens during sleep

When asked what happens during sleep, many people will say, "dream happens". Yes, humans dream when they sleep, but there is a lot more that occurs during sleep.

First, there are four stages of sleep- stage 1 non-REM sleep, stage 2 non-REM sleep, stage 3 non-REM sleep and stage 4 REM sleep. These sleep stages occur multiple times during a 7-9 hour sleep.

If you are taking just a short nap, then the body does not have to cycle through the four stages of sleep multiple times as this cycle varies from 70 to 120 minutes.2

REM is short for "non-rapid eye movement". During stage 1 non-REM sleep, the body enters a light sleep with the heart rate, eye movement and brain waves slowing down. This first sleep stage lasts for about 7 minutes.

The second phase, stage 2 non-REM sleep, is the light sleep phase just before the deep sleep. In this phase, the eye movement stops, the temperature reduces, muscles and heart rate continue to relax. The brain waves go up a bit and then comes down. In the first cycle, it lasts for about 10 to 25 minutes.

Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

Deep sleep begins in stage 3, non-REM sleep. The muscles and eyes don't move at this point, and brain waves slow down further. This is the point where the body starts replenishing its lost strength, repairing muscles, tissues and cells. You need to go through this phase to wake up refreshed.

Stage 4 REM sleep occurs initially about 90 minutes after falling asleep. The eyes rapidly move from side to side, increasing in movement. Brain waves, heart rate and breathing also speed up. This is the dream phase. It is also the phase when brain information processing occurs.

Why you need sleep

"There are many important connections between health and sleep," said Mark Wu, John Hopkins sleep expert and neurologist.

Have you ever wondered why you feel foggy when you don't get enough sleep at night? It is because sleep significantly impacts brain function. 

You need sleep to be able to adapt to input. If you don't get enough sleep, you may be unable to process what you learn, or the information received the previous day. It can also affect your future memory process. 

When awake, the brain is unable to remove toxic waste products efficiently from the brain cells, but researchers believe that sleep may promote waste product removal. 

Aside from the brain, sleep is also vital to the rest of the body. Inadequate sleep increases the risk of medical conditions like depression, high blood pressure, seizures, heart diseases, stroke and migraine. 

The importance of sleep to health cannot be overemphasized, as not getting enough sleep can cause mental and physical breakdowns.

Why you should consider sleeping naked

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Surprisingly, sleeping naked has its benefits. Some people believe that when they sleep naked, especially with their partner, they fall asleep faster, experience improvement in health and wellness and their relationships. In fact, in 2019, 29% of French people reportedly slept naked.8

Currently, not many research works are carried out on the benefits of sleeping naked; however, some studies have provided insight into its potential benefits. Below are some benefits of sleeping nude.

1. Fall asleep faster

If you go to bed with your clothes off, you tend to fall asleep faster. The body’s temperature is a crucial key when it comes to falling asleep fast. This is because thermoregulation has a strong link with the mechanism that regulates sleep.5

A cool body temperature tells the body that it is time to sleep. So sleeping naked, which cools the body, can help you sleep faster. On the other hand, if your room and body temperature are hot, it will be harder for you to fall asleep. 

2. Improve sleep quality

Aside from helping you sleep faster, a cool body temperature also improves overall sleep quality. 

A study from the National Institute of Health found that room temperature is vital for achieving quality sleep.5 

If your room is too hot or too cold, the rapid eye movement sleep, which is the dream stage of sleep that helps refresh your brain and body, may be affected. Sleeping nude is one way to keep the body cool beneath the covers. 

3. Weight loss

Exercise and diet are the major keys to weight loss. But, you might be shocked to learn that the way you sleep can affect your weight.

A 3-year cohort study found a possible link between inadequate sleep and weight gain or obesity.3 “People who are sleep deprived have a slower metabolism and more difficulty losing weight.” Dr Gina Lundberg told the American Heart Association. 

Another study published in PLOS Medicine showed that people who don’t get enough sleep have higher levels of ghrelin, which increases appetite.9 This shows that getting quality sleep can help control food cravings and reduce appetite. And one of the ways to put your body in a relaxed state so as to get quality sleep is by sleeping naked. 

4. Promotes reproductive health

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Marthisen

For women, sleeping naked is a great way to promote vaginal health and avoid yeast infections. Yeast grows in a warm, moist environment and wearing sweaty or tight-fitting underwear can increase the risk of infection. 

Also, sleeping with underwear on can cause itching and pain due to irritation of the vulva. “By removing your underwear at night, there is less rubbing to this area of sensitive skin”, Shweta Pai, obstetrician-gynaecologist, said. 

You might not always have it in mind to buy loose-fitted underwear when you are shopping; but, to be on the safer side, it would be best to totally go off underwear when sleeping. Sleeping nude is an easy way to air your vagina and keep it healthy.

Sleeping nude also benefits men in the aspect of reproductive health. A study showed that wearing tight-fitting underwear can be linked to a lower sperm count.4

To function optimally, the testicles need a cooler temperature, and that is why they descend from their original position (near the kidney) into the scrotum, which is outside the body! Sleeping naked is easy to keep the testicles cool so they can function well and produce healthy sperm. 

5. Healthy skin

Have you heard of beauty sleep? It is not just a myth. Sleeping naked can help you get your beauty sleep as it increases your sleep quality, which further improves your skin. 

A study found that people who slept well recovered from a wound faster than people who didn’t.7

How this works is that when you sleep, your body generates new cells and repairs itself. The skin produces collagen overnight. With quality sleep (which can be facilitated by sleeping naked), you are increasing blood flow to the skin, keeping the skin healthy and helping it repair damaged cells.

References

  1. Aminoff, M. J., Boller, F., & Swaab, D. F. (2011). We spend about one-third of our life either sleeping or attempting to do so. Handbook of clinical neurology, 98, vii. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-52006-7.00047-2 
  2. Brinkman, J.E., Reddy, V., Sharma, S. (Updated 2021 Sep 24) Physiology of Sleep. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482512/
  3. Kobayashi, D., Takahashi, O., Deshpande, G.A. et al. (2012). Association between weight gain, obesity, and sleep duration: a large-scale 3-year cohort study. Sleep Breath 16, 829–833. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-011-0583-0 
  4. Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Audrey J Gaskins, Yu-Han Chiu, Carmen Messerlian, Paige L Williams, Jennifer B Ford, Irene Souter, Russ Hauser and Jorge E Chavarro. (2018). Type of underwear worn and markers of testicular function among men attending a fertility centre, Human Reproduction, 33(9), 1749–1756, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dey259
  5. Okamoto-Mizuno, K., Mizuno, K. (2012). Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. J Physiol Anthropol 31(14). https://doi.org/10.1186/1880-6805-31-14 
  6. Schmall, Tyler. (2019, March 21). We spend nearly half of our lifetime lying around in bed. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2019/03/21/we-spend-nearly-half-of-our-lifetime-lying-around-in-bed/ 
  7. Smith, Tracey, J. et al. (2018). Impact of sleep restriction on local immune response and skin barrier restoration with and without “multi-nutrient” nutrient intervention. Journal of Applied Physiology. 124(1): 190-200.
  8. Statista. (n.d.). Percentage of French people who sleep naked in 2019 by frequency. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1023344/sleeping-naked-frequency-france/ 
  9. Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., and Mignot, E. (2004). Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med, 1(3): e62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/