Are Your Pajamas Affecting Your Sleep?

It's been a long day and all you've thought about on your ride home is crawling out of your shirt and pants, putting on your comfy pajamas, and climbing into bed for a long night's rest. And no wonder — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one-third of adults in the U.S. aren't getting enough sleep. 

Finding the routine that helps you drift off to a peaceful dreamland can be challenging. There are a number of articles and suggestions to help you improve the overall quality of your nightly sleeping routine. From holistic remedies like supplemental melatonin or chamomile tea to more drastic recommendations such as prescribed sleep aids, figuring out how to guarantee a good night's rest is critical to your overall wellbeing. In fact, the amount of sleep you get has a direct impact on your mood each day (via University of Michigan). Yet, despite the vast number of recommendations for improving the quality of sleep, not many suggestions mention your nighttime wardrobe.

When you think of pajamas, images of loose-fitting printed pants, baggy t-shirts, shorts, and tank tops often come to mind. While these clothing choices may offer comfort and freedom of movement, there's little research on how your clothes might be impacting the quality of your sleep each night. So what should you consider when thinking about how your clothes can influence your sleep quality?

Don't ignore pajama comfort

No one likes to be uncomfortable when trying to sleep. Itchy blankets or a lumpy mattress are obvious factors that challenge comfort when trying to settle in for a good night's sleep. In fact, the Sleep Foundation lists comfortable bedding as one of the core components of getting a good nights sleep. 

But not-so-obvious elements can be contributing to your lack of comfort, including the type of clothing you wear to bed. While some may claim that sleeping au naturel is the best way to get a good night's sleep, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of sleeping in their birthday suit. Selecting something suitable for your sleep habits can take some planning. According to The Sleep Doctor, finding something suitable to wear is on the list of bedtime basic guidelines.

You want to ensure that you're comfortable when settling down for a peaceful rest. Choosing clothing that is breathable but not too loose or form-fitting is essential. Some clothing, such as tight pants or over-sized t-shirts, can restrict movement or become tangled in the bedsheets, as The Sleep Doctor explains. Certain material may be uncomfortable on the skin leading to tossing and turning throughout the night. But even more important than comfort is how cool (or warm) your clothes make you during the night! 

Your pajamas affect body temperature during sleep

During sleep, body temperature fluctuates with each sleep stage. A 2021 study in Sleep Medicine examined body temperature during the sleep cycles of postmenopausal women. The study illustrated that higher body temperatures were related to poor sleep quality, even suggesting that using a cooling mattress could increase short wave (aka deep) sleep. WebMD correlates by stating that cooler body temperatures lead to a higher quality of sleep and feeling better rested.

Although highly debated, most research suggests that more than the quantity of time spent sleeping, it is the quality of the sleep that leads to feeling rested (via American Association of Sleep Technologists). Bright light, noise, and temperature are disruptive factors that can cause a decline in the quality of sleep. Choosing the proper pajamas to wear to bed is a decision often made based on the room temperature. HVAC&R Research published a study in 2018 stating that the perfect ambient temperature for your bedroom should be 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit. When getting dressed for bed, it's important to keep in mind that the clothes you sleep in can alter your body temperature and disrupt your sleep, even if they are comfortable for the ambient temperature of your room. By selecting something that is breathable, you'll be allowing your body temperature to remain cooler, creating a better night's rest for you.

In other words, the clothing choices you make do play a role in affecting your sleep quality. When choosing your nightly pajamas, keeping cool and comfortable is the goal for a good night's sleep.