Pyjamas have been around for centuries, originating in the Indian Subcontinent, and later adopted by the British during their colonial rule of the country in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During the Victorian era, pyjamas grew in popularity and spread across the globe as a result of British geo-political dominance (and also because they are pretty darn comfy). They entered the American fashion milieu in the 1920s, and nowadays there is almost too much variety when it comes to sleeping garments.
But why do we wear PJs, and are they actually conducive to getting a decent kip?
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 92% of us don pyjamas before slipping in between the sheets. However, once we begin to closely examine the sartorial state of our sleep, the evidence seems to point towards stripping down to our birthday suit as being preferable to wearing clothes in bed.
In 2004, ABC News conducted a telephone poll of 1,501 American adults and found that a nightgown or pyjamas were the most typical sleepwear option. A slim majority of women chose this option (55%), compared to a mere 13% of men. In fact, most men said they slept either naked or in their underwear.
And say what you like about the British reserve, but the National Sleep Foundation in 2012 found that Britons were far more likely than Americans to admit to sleeping in the nude.
As well as being pretty risqué, sleeping with nought on might actually have more health benefits than you might think. For example, sleeping naked helps us regulate our temperatures and fall asleep quicker. Men’s Health sleep advisor W. Christopher Winter asserts that your body temperature declines as you doze and climbs before you wake up, and wearing clothing can interfere with this natural fluctuation.
Men and women who sleep naked are also less likely to suffer from yeast and fungal infections in their…nether regions. Sleeping in your underwear increases the odds that you’ll get an infection in the worst possible place, says Brian Steixner, a urologist based in Atlantic City. Going pyjama-less reduces the risk of chaffed or irritated skin becoming infected, and keeps your precious areas clean and healthy.
The AASM even found that those who sleep naked tend to have better relationships with their significant others, owing to greater intimacy between partners and an increase in body confidence. Additionally, staying cool throughout the night may help boost your metabolism, according to a 2014 study in the journal Diabetes.
So is it bye-bye jim-jams, and hello night-time nudity? Should we opt, as sex icon Marilyn Monroe allegedly did, to sleep solely in the fragrant scent of Chanel No. 5?
Well, ultimately it comes down to personal choice and comfort. If you do favour something over nothing, there are some important considerations to make before finalising your nightwear selections.
Fabric is an important element when it comes to garment selection; silk, flannel or bamboo are all good choices as they are cosy, temperate and breathable materials. Fit is also worthy of careful consideration – looser clothing is better for comfort and hygiene. And don’t forget your feet! Cold feet have been linked to sleeplessness, so it might be worth your while purchasing some lightweight sleep socks. A word of warning though, as having overly hot feet can be equally as irritable.
So whether it’s clothes on or clothes off, we wish you all the best night’s sleep.