The Best Bed Clothes for Optimal Sleep

Comfort is essential to a good night's sleep, and what you wear to bed certainly contributes to your comfort level. Next time you go pajama shopping, consider these options.

One of the best ways to help yourself to a restful night's sleep is to develop a consistent routine that includes the same relaxing activities, done in the same order and about the same time, night after night, just before you go to bed. This nightly ritual may include a bath or shower, other cleaning and grooming activities, turning down the lights, having a light snack, reading a book or listening to soft music. It also includes taking off your day clothes and putting on your nightwear, signaling that your day is done and it is time to relax.

Got Cold Feet?

What you wear just before you go to bed can also affect how quickly you fall asleep, according to a Swiss study published in the March 2000 issue of the American Journal of Physiology.  The researchers found that something as simple as wearing a warm pair of socks or slippers before bed (and then removing them once you get into bed) can help you fall asleep quicker. Using cozy foot coverings to warm up your feet has an effect similar to that of a warm bath before retiring for the night. First you warm your body up, then it cools itself down. This causes blood vessels in your hands and feet to constrict and dilate. The cooling down and dilating is actually what puts you to sleep, but in order to do that, you have to warm up first.

Layer it On

Once you fall asleep, you don't want to find yourself waking up because you're too hot or too cold. That's why it's important to find a combination of sleepwear, bedding and room temperature that works best for you. Cool room temperature is optimal for a healthy and restful night's sleep, but keeping the air cool might mean you need warmer pajamas or even layered pajamas in order to sleep comfortably. That is especially true if you're not fond of heavy bedding such as extra blankets and thick quilts.

A Good Fit

Fabric, texture, seams, elastic bands, length, and fit are all important considerations when buying comfortable bed clothes. Cotton, silk and natural fiber blends "breathe" better, and are therefore cooler, to wear than synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester, which tend to hold in the heat. Your comfort will be compromised in bed clothes that are too clingy or tight, but clothes that are too loose can also become uncomfortable if you find yourself twisted and wrapped in excess fabric during the night.

The Flame Factor

Whether they are designed for adults or children, loose-fitting, over-the-head bed clothes that cover most of the body, such as nightgowns, robes and oversize t-shirts, are considered high-risk styles for fire safety. That's because loosely designed clothing can catch fire easier than more fitted clothing and fabrics that allow more air between the garment and the skin also provide more oxygen to fuel the fire. If you are concerned about fire safety while you sleep, look for nightwear made with flame retardant cotton or synthetic fabrics.



Krauchi, K, Cajochen, C, Werth, E. Wirz-Justice, A. "Functional Link Between Distal Vasodilation and Sleep-Onset Latency?" American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. Mar 2000; 278(3)R741-R748. Web. 22 Sept 2010.


Spivak, S. "An Important Fire Safety Message About the Flammability Hazard of Your Products." Journal of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management.  North Carolina University College of Textiles. Dec 2004. Web. 22 Sept 2010.