If you’ve never thought about hitting the sack in your birthday suit, it may be something to consider. While the correlation between sleeping naked and a slimmer waistline isn’t entirely direct, there is a connection. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that participants who slept in cooler temperatures had more brown fat. Yes, more fat…stay with us here.
“Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue, produces heat to help maintain body temperature in cooler conditions,” explains certified sleep educator Terry Cralle, MS, RN. It uses energy to produce this heat — aka this type of fat actually burns calories and boosts your metabolism. It’s important to note that in this study the participants weren’t in fact sleeping naked, so it’s a bit of a leap to make that connection, says Cralle.
Still, sleeping in a cooler climate — whether that’s because you’re naked or in a cooler room — in combination with healthy diet and exercise choices can potentially be another way to help you reach your weight loss goals. “Sleep follows your core body temperature rhythm,” explains sleep expert Michael J. Breus, PhD. “So, if you’re too warm in bed, whether that’s due to flannel PJs or a polyester comforter or a weighted blanket, your body temperature can’t drop, which in turn means you can’t sleep,” he adds. And it’s no secret that not sleeping enough can cause weight gain.
Poor sleep has repeatedly been linked to higher body mass index and weight gain. Aside from the lack of energy you experience come morning (hello, snooze button), when you don’t sleep enough, your levels of the hormone ghrelin rise, which stimulates feelings of hunger. Studies show that the stress hormone cortisol also rises, activating reward centers in your brain that make you crave carbs and sugar.
Forgoing pajamas is one way to keep yourself cool and ensure that you get a better night’s sleep, so subsequently, you are better set up to make smart food and exercise choices the next day. But don’t worry if sleeping in the buff isn’t a realistic or appealing option. There are other things you can do: According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 to 67 degrees is the optimal sleeping temperature for most adults, so consider lowering the thermostat first and foremost. Wearing lightweight, moisture-wicking pajamas can also help, adds Cralle.
Though let’s not forget that sleeping naked can also have other positive effects, especially if you’re sharing a bed with a special someone. “Sleeping naked will improve intimacy, which can be good for sleep,” points out Dr. Breus. “Skin to skin contact also releases oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ hormone, which not only increases feelings of intimacy, but also reduces stress and anxiety,” adds Cralle.
A better night’s sleep, increased calorie burn, and feeling closer to your partner, all from getting naked? We’re sold.