This isn’t going to be just another, “do this, or else!” kind of women’s health post, I promise; think of it more as a handy bit of information that can help you best determine what is best for you and your body. Women already get enough criticism and enough people telling us what to do without me writing a piece panty-shaming you into submission, so this is not that. It is, however, an exploration of the reasons why sleeping in underwear may not be the healthiest choice. Indeed, there are a whole bunch of doctors out there who would like you to consider going commando at night, especially if you find yourself particularly prone to vaginal infections of the bacterial and yeast varieties. You may be wondering...
...How does wearing underwear versus not wearing underwear in my sleep affect my vaginal health?
The vagina is many things--namely a moist, self-cleaning, pleasure vessel. That moisture, however, can be a bit of trickster. According to co-author of V is for Vagina Dr. Alyssa Dweck, as quoted in the Huffington Post, “if [the vagina] is constantly covered — especially by a fabric that’s not moisture-wicking or absorbent — moisture collects, [creating the] perfect breeding ground for bacteria or yeast.” And Dr. Dweck is hardly alone in this thinking--most gynecologists agree that the vagina can greatly benefit from getting some air every now and again. My gynecologist, too, recently recommended that I skip the skivvies when I asked about issues with excessive discharge.
...How does sleeping naked affect my health in general?
Ask any naked sleeper about their nightly routine and they’ll light right up (if they’re not already glowing from the improved quality of sleep they’re getting each night in the nude!). The way that those who sleep in their birthday suit sing its praises will have you imagining that there’s some kind of Cult of the Unclothed that you weren’t aware of, that’s how much they seem to love it. But according to science, this actually makes sense. Because sleeping naked allows your body to better regulate its own temperature and stay cooler overnight, it has been proven that sleep patterns improve in the nude. Better sleep, of course, has myriad health benefits, including an improved immune system, better regulated appetites, rejuvenated hair and skin, and stress reduction. Plus, studies have shown that sleeping naked can improve your sex life (something about... access?) which also improves overall health.
...What if I can’t sleep naked but I want to take you up on this whole no-underwear thing?
If sleeping naked still doesn’t appeal, try sleeping commando, but in a loose-fitting cotton pajama pant. This way, your vagina will still be able to breathe, and you will still be able to sleep.
Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes