Posted on 09 April 2014
Men, women have different views on sleeping naked. It's the last frontier of personal freedom: your bedroom. What you do there, how and when you do it, and what you wear is entirely your own business. Unless, of course, you and your partner can't agree on any or all of the above. Then you've got trouble. A variety of experts over the past few years have been trying to get a clearer picture of what goes on in the bedroom – not the sex stuff, but how we sleep and how it contributes to our overall mental, physical and emotional health. And one area of inquiry – what people wear to bed – shows some dramatic changes and, quite possibly, a growing disconnect between men and women. Last summer, an extensive and credible survey by the U.S. National Sleep Foundation looked at behaviors in six countries (U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, UK) and found numerous cultural variances. According to the poll of 1,051 adults aged 25-55, only 12% of Americans sleep in the nude; in fact, more of us wear socks to bed (16%) than nothing at all. That compares to the randy Brits, a full 30% of whom go to sleep starkers. It's a compelling statistic because it documents a big shift in how Americans, especially men, live today. Back in 1991, the groundbreaking book Do You Sleep With The Lights On?, which compiled data on sex habits, reported that 53% of American men sleep in the nude. Another 33% slept in their underwear, and only 10% wore pajamas. Flash-forward to 2004, when ABC News conducted its own bedroom survey. It found that the number of men who sleep naked was down to 31%. By 2012, a survey by the textiles company Anna's Linens found only 8% of Americans sleep naked. It didn't distinguish between men's and women's habits, but most data show that far fewer women than men prefer to go buff at bedtime. (There's an interesting divergence among gay men on this issue, too. In 2010, the website ManCentral.com asked its readers to weigh in on the bedtime issue and 44% said they sleep in the nude, while 31% sleep in underwear.) But the issue becomes a bit thorny when women are asked the question: "What do you wish your guy would wear to bed?" Back in 2006, Esquire magazine asked exactly that question and found that 29% of women want their man naked in bed. Men's Health magazine asked the same question in a survey of 800 female readers and this time 34% said they prefer their love biscuit au naturel. Clearly, women have an agenda here that threatens to undermine both men's freedom to choose as well as the health of the underwear and PJ industries. Cosmopolitan leant its sultry voice to the debate last month with a rather dubious article titled '6 Reasons You Should Sleep Naked'. Sleeping commando, its experts promised, can help you lose weight, combat aging, reduce stress, and have more orgasms. Of course, that's what Cosmo investigations usually find. Men, however, appear to choosing comfort over connubial bliss when it comes to their nightwear choices. But that doesn't mean you can't put some effort into it. Most people of all ages and genders would probably agree that the least attractive bedroom attire for guys is the same pair of aging, frayed tighty whiteys that you wore to work all day. One style cue comes from another 2013 poll, this time from a British mattress company that asked women what men should wear to bed (this, in the country that leads the world in nude napping). A full 35% said they like the idea of their guy in fresh boxers, and other 31% preferred PJ bottoms as opposed to the more restrictive and somewhat formal full pajama set. At last, something we can all agree on. Gents, if your days of sleeping naked are behind you, it may be time to bring some style to nightwear choices. We can't promise you more orgasms, but it's sure to bring peace to your bedroom.