Aside from style, you likely choose your daily clothing with comfort and function in mind. Although you may be used to wearing any old pajama shirt and pants to bed, research suggests that you should also be selective about your sleepwear choices.
Quality sleep is crucial to overall wellness, and poor quality sleep can lead to sleep deprivation or deficiency. The wrong choice in sleepwear can easily disrupt your sleep, while the best pajamas promote increased restfulness. Studies show that even one night of poor sleep can affect your mood, cognition and normal daily function. Long-term deficiency may cause health problems, such as immune dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health issues.
If you’re experiencing poor quality sleep or sleep deficiency, it may be linked to your pajama choices. To minimize sleep disruption and improve your overall sleep, consider the following qualities to find the best pajamas for your needs:
Thermoregulation, which refers to the physiological effect of the body cooling or warming, has a relation to the onset and quality of sleep. People have coordinating cycles of thermoregulation and sleep so that the body cools and the skin warms as it nears sleep time and starts to produce melatonin. Both cold and warmth exposure can delay sleep onset and reduce the overall quality of sleep. Fabrics have different levels of insulating ability, so it's important to choose one that suits you best as a cool, moderate or warm sleeper.
Humid environments or a naturally sweaty sleeper indicate the need to select pajamas that will absorb or wick moisture away from the skin. Humid heat can increase stress and sweat levels on the body. This can lead to interrupted sleep patterns, dehydration and uncomfortable sweat pooling on the skin.
Certain fabrics, weaves and fits will affect your body’s ability to relax during sleep onset. You should avoid materials that restrict or tighten, as well as irritating buttons or fasteners. Instead, look for fabrics and styles that either drape loosely over your body or stretch easily to accommodate relaxed sleep positions.
Some sleepers are more sensitive to scratchy or allergenic fabrics. If your skin is sensitive and prone to irritation or itching, you may need to choose pajamas that are more delicately woven or hypoallergenic. Sensation may also come down to preference, as you may simply prefer the cozy quality of one fabric over the slippery quality of another.
Now that we know what qualities are important when selecting sleepwear, we can look at how different fabrics compare and fit individual needs.
Cotton is a popular fabric choice as it's breathable and drapes comfortably over the body. It's also soft and lightweight, so it's less likely to irritate your skin. However, it may be a poor fabric choice for those who are more prone to sweating during sleep because it's not moisture-wicking. Cotton does not provide significant insulation, so it won't conserve body heat. People who are naturally cold or who live in colder regions may find cotton too chilly.
While polyester can be light and soft, its fibers have low absorbency. If you sweat during sleep, polyester will cause it to pool on your skin.
Linen is breathable, so it may be a great choice for those who experience more warmth exposure. It’s also known for being soft and comfortable. However, because of its poor insulating qualities, linen is not recommended for sleep in colder environments.
With its superior insulating abilities, breathability and moisture-wicking absorbency, wool is an excellent choice for many sleepers. Insulation can vary according to the weight and weave of the fabric so it can be adjusted for a range of temperatures. Some people complain of irritation from the wool fibers, but merino wool blends use delicate fibers to prevent itching.
Silk is a great, albeit expensive, option for sleepwear fabric. It can cool your body when it's hot and warm it when it's cold. Silk is also highly breathable and can absorb moisture from your skin to prevent sweat pooling. Many people enjoy the smooth and soft quality of silk, which also offers hypoallergenic and antibacterial benefits.
You may choose to forgo any fabric at all and sleep nude or seminude instead. This works well for warm or warmth-exposed sleepers, as they are less likely to overheat, and sleep patterns are less likely to be disturbed. Even in cases of cold exposure, a warm microclimate within your bedding is adequate to regulate your body temperature. If you choose to sleep nude, be sure to choose absorbent bedding.
If you're experiencing discomfort and consequent sleep disruption, you may want to consider alternative sleepwear. Sleep is crucial to the maintenance of your overall health, and the best pajamas can not only feel amazing but may help you fall asleep faster and have better sleep quality.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.