What to Wear to Bed for a Great Night’s Sleep

By Loren Bullock

Jun 9th, 2022

By clicking on the product links in this article, Mattress Advisor may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full disclosure statement.

Pajamas have been around since the Ottoman Empire. They were so fancied by Europeans who visited the area, they quickly spread to Europe and were adopted as exotic loungewear. But the idea of wearing PJs to bed didn’t really catch on and spread to the Western world until the 20th century. In the decades since, nightwear has become a nighttime staple.

Whether you go to bed wearing traditional pajamas, a comfy T-shirt, or nothing at all can depend on a lot of factors, including your age, the season, or simply your personal preference. What you may not know is that your PJs can greatly affect the quality of your sleep.

It’s nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep if you’re tossing and turning and having a difficult time getting comfortable. Perhaps the problem is that you’re not wearing the right sleepwear. 

Read on to see how your nightwear may be the cause of your discomfort and what changes you can make to better ensure a good night’s sleep.

What to Wear to Bed

The key to good sleep is comfort. If you’re not comfortable in your nighties, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate what you’re wearing to bed. Here’s some things to consider when you dress for bed: 

Types of Pajamas

  • Sweatpants & T-shirts
  • Shorts & tank tops 
  • Thermal underwear
  • Nightgown/nightie
  • Oversized sleep shirt
  • Boxers/gym shorts
  • Romper/onesie/footie pajamas
  • Lingerie/negligee 
  • Nude

Fabrics to consider

  • Cotton: This breathable, all-natural fabric is soft and naturally cooling, making it a great option for warmer nights. However, cotton doesn’t do a good job of wicking away moisture and may become uncomfortable if you’re prone to night sweats. 
  • Silk: This luxurious fabric is soft and comfy, and it’s great at regulating body temperature. It can keep you warm on cool nights and cool you up on warm nights. But, silk can be slippery, expensive, and require dry cleaning. 
  • Linen: Pure linen pajamas are super soft and breathable. This fabric also has natural heat and moisture-wicking properties, making it ideal for hot sleepers. However, linen wrinkles more easily and is generally more expensive than cotton. 
  • Flannel: An excellent option for cold nights, flannel keeps you warm and cozy. It’s also soft and breathable. If you sleep hot, flannel PJs might be too hot for you to handle. 
  • Bamboo: When the fibers of this hearty plane are spun down and treated, they create a surprisingly soft, naturally wicking fabric. Bamboo is also hypoallergenic and may have antibacterial properties. 
  • Wool: Known for keeping you warm in cold weather, wool can also keep you cool on warm nights and prevent you from overheating. Naturally wicking, wool PJs are also soft and smooth to the touch. 

Sleep Accessories

  • Eye masks: Eye masks are great to block out light, whether you’re trying to snooze while the sun’s still up, or need to block out light filtering into your bedroom. They’re designed to fool the brain into thinking it’s time to go to sleep, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and fabrics. 
  • Earplugs: Is your bed partner’s snoring or your neighbor’s new drum set keeping you from falling asleep at night? Consider blocking out the noise with a good quality pair of earplugs.
  • Socks: Having a case of cold feet? Sliding on a pair of lightweight socks at bedtime can keep your tootsies cozy. According to the National Sleep Foundation, warming your feet at bedtime can actually help you fall asleep faster.  

What You Shouldn’t Wear to Bed

If the key to good sleep is comfort, then it should go without saying you shouldn’t wear uncomfortable clothes to bed. Just to be clear, here are some suggestions on what to avoid wearing to bed.

Clothing to Avoid

  • Tight clothing: Binding clothes are barely tolerable when you’re awake, so why would you want to wear them to bed? Especially since some tight clothing can actually cut off circulation and make your extremities tingle. 
  • Buttons, snaps and tags: These notions may seem innocent enough, but buttons and snaps can press into your skin, and tags can be itchy — neither of which promotes good sleep.
  • Elastic that’s too tight: A lot of pajama bottoms are cinched at the waist with elastic. If the elastic is too tight, it can cause soreness and chafing. 
  • Scratchy lace on lingerie: Sexy, lacy lingerie is great for bedtime with your honey, but when you’re ready to sleep, it might be more comfortable and less itchy to slip off the negligee. 
  • Underwear: It’s best for your overall hygiene not to wear underwear to bed. That’s because your boxes, tighty whities, and panties can become a hotbed for bacteria and cause irritation and yeast infections. So, consider slipping them off and going commando to bed. 
  • Bra: Years ago, women were encouraged to wear bras to bed to prevent their breasts from sagging. But studies have debunked that notion. If anything, a bra can cause discomfort and may even hinder your breathing at night. 

Fabrics to Avoid

  • Synthetic fabrics: Natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and bamboo are great for sleeping in. But synthetic fabrics, like polyester, spandex, and nylon will trap heat and moisture, and make you feel hot and clammy. 
  • Low-quality fabrics: Generally speaking, the higher the quality of fabric used to make your sleepwear, the more comfortable. For example, high-quality cotton fabric with a low thread count is softer and more durable than low-quality cotton fabric with a high thread count. 
  • Wrinkle-free fabrics: If you toss and turn at night, you might wake up with wrinkled jammies and be tempted to buy PJs made with wrinkle-free fabric. But you’ll want to reconsider that idea if you have allergies or sensitivities. The wrinkle-free agent used on fabric to make it resist wrinkles is a hazardous chemical called formaldehyde. Yep, the same probable human carcinogen used by morticians on cadavers. 

Other Sleep Hindrances

  • Makeup: Going to bed without washing off your makeup does more than stain your pillowcase. It can clog your pores and cause acne. Sleeping in mascara, eyeliner, or false eyelashes can irritate your eyes and could scratch your cornea.  
  • Dirty PJs: When you sleep, you shed dead skin cells, sweat, drool, and release body oils. If you don’t clean your PJs regularly, they can irritate your skin and make you sick. 
  • Harsh detergents: Speaking of washing your pajamas, you may want to steer clear of fragrant detergents and fabric softeners. An overpowering aroma — even if it’s pleasant — can trigger allergies or rashes and interfere with your sleep.  
  • Heavy socks: Thick, insulating socks may feel toasty on your cold feet when you first crawl into bed. But they can cause your feet to overheat and sweat.

How to Keep Warm in Bed

If you find yourself shivering in bed at night, regardless of how many blankets you put on, then you may be missing one critical item of clothing – socks.

As you lose body heat through your feet, ensuring that these are covered up at night is essential to staying warm under the duvet. Investing in bed socks or thermal socks is an easy way to keep your temperature up.

You may also want to choose pajamas that cover more of your body, and made with fabrics that help keep you warm, like wool, flannel, or even silk. 

How to Stay Cool in Bed

If you sleep hot or sweat at night, your pajamas could be to blame. PJs made of synthetic fabrics can trap body heat and moisture and make you feel hot and clammy. 

Switching to clothing made from natural fabrics like 100% cotton or bamboo are much more breathable than synthetic fabrics and can help to keep you cool and dry.

However, you could be suffering from night sweats, a condition caused by an underlying medical condition, illness, or, depending on your age and gender, menopause. 

Sleeping Naked

As long as you feel comfortable, choosing to sleep in your birthday suit has many benefits.

Sleeping naked allows your skin to breathe and eliminates anything that could be constricting your blood flow. As a result, sleeping in the nude can help improve circulation throughout the body which benefits your heart and muscles, and reduces your risk of developing fungal infections or skin irritations.

Sleeping naked also keeps you cool, which in turn can improve the speed of your metabolism, helping you burn fat. If you are still experiencing discomfort or night sweating after making these adjustments, your sleeping environment could be the problem rather than your sleepwear.

Fresh bed sheets, a different bedroom wall color or a new mattress could be a great option to increase comfort at night. Also consider a sprung bed base, which will not only give your mattress the support it needs but your muscles and bones too.


Whether you wear pajamas to bed, a favorite T-shirt, or sleep in the buff, comfort is the key to a good night’s sleep. Choose loose-fitting clothing made with breathable fabrics. (Unless you prefer your birthday suit.) Avoid harsh detergents. And don’t forget to keep your pajamas, bed linens, and body clean to prevent the buildup of bacteria or other irritants.