Snooze Shirt: A Guide to Sleeping With a Shirt

Young african woman sleeping in her bed at night, she is resting with eyes closed

Key Points

  • Sleep quality may be directly related to whether or not you choose to wear a shirt to bed.

  • Sleeping with a shirt on affects bodily temperature regulation.

  • When sleeping with a shirt, consider taking a closer look at its material.

  • If you have skin conditions (especially related to skin dryness), you may consider sleeping without a shirt.

People often refer to sleep as a cure-all, an antidote to various common complaints. Want to look younger? Sleep more. Low on energy? Take a nap.

Unfortunately, studies show that as many as 20 percent of adults in the US struggle to sleep at night. That number is significant because you cannot live without sleep; sleep maintains your body's immune system and brain function, among other things. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, "Getting inadequate sleep over time can raise the risk for chronic (long-term) health problems."

Simply put, not getting enough sleep can seriously affect your life in many ways — even ways that you might not even consciously understand.

Emergent studies and articles promote the best ways to maximize your sleep. This may involve taking sleep supplements like melatonin. Sometimes this involves trying new sleep positions. Though many of these articles offer valuable insight for individuals who cannot seem to get enough sleep, altering the quality of your sleep for the better may be simpler than you think.

One of the great debates is whether sleeping with clothes on is superior to sleeping naked. Both sides have staunch supporters who refuse to back down, so you're here to determine once and for all: Is sleeping without a shirt better than sleeping with a shirt?

Woman sleeps in t-shirt

No Shirt? No Problem

Sleeping without a shirt on is pretty common — especially among men. For reference, around eight percent of Americans sleep in the nude, and around 18 percent of Americans sleep without a shirt. Most Americans go to sleep fully clothed in pajama pants/shorts and a shirt, although some studies show that these numbers may be different for millennials.

What's the best option? Consider the following reasons you may want to sleep without a shirt:

Temperature Regulation

For folks who often complain about being too hot at night, sleeping without a shirt may help the body regulate its core temperature at night — especially in the summer. If you often wake up and feel like a sweaty mess, consider going to bed without a shirt on. Removing that extra layer of fabric increases airflow on the skin.

Your body naturally cools down around bedtime, so leaving out an extra item of clothing allows your body's natural homeostatic mechanisms to go into effect and self-regulate, making it easier to fall asleep again in the future.

Skin Improvement

If you struggle with body acne or other skin conditions, sleeping without a shirt can improve the skin.

Sleeping without a shirt on allows for more oxygen flow to affected areas, promoting healing and lessening irritation. For example, for people with eczema — a condition that causes the skin to be dry and irritated — sleeping without a shirt removes some of the friction that can occur on the skin during sleep. Friction from a shirt rubbing on the skin can worsen eczema, body acne, dryness, and other skin conditions and especially if you have sensitive or allergy-prone skin.

Too much friction can also lead to microscopic wounds in the skin resulting in more significant problems. If your skin is often irritated or flaky, sleeping without a shirt might help alleviate your symptoms.

A couples sleeps on their bed in shirts

Sleep Quality

Some studies show that sleeping without a shirt can improve sleep quality. Without a shirt on, the body can regulate its temperature more effectively, which allows you to fall asleep faster and easier.

When you go to sleep, your body naturally begins to lower in temperature; removing an extra layer of clothing (like a shirt) lessens the time you spend trying to fall asleep, meaning more prolonged and more sound sleep and fewer wakeups in the middle of the night.

When sleep quality improves, so does overall health. Trying to sleep without a shirt on might be a remedy for some common health problems, like unexplained weight gain or excessive stress. If you feel like you live a pretty healthy lifestyle but are not seeing or feeling the benefits, take a closer look at your sleep quality; it could be an unlikely culprit, and an unlikely solution could be just going to bed without a shirt.

Do Tops Come Out On Top?

On the other hand, if you're always burrowed under the covers and shivering at night, sleeping with a shirt on helps your body conserve more heat. Some studies show that sleeping with a shirt on helps regulate your body temperature better than sleeping naked because sweat gets wicked away faster depending on the shirt's material.

Man sleeps on bed shirtless with hands behind his head

Too Many Options, Too Little Time

If you fall into the tribe of sleeping with a shirt on, there are many pajama options. Some people prefer sleeping in tank tops to maintain their body temperatures better (tank tops afford more cooling ability while still protecting the skin and keeping the core temperature stable).

Other folks like sleeping in thin T-shirts or even long sleeve shirts. With all the shirt options in mind, paying attention to the material you are sleeping in is essential — no matter what style you choose as your favorite.


The most popular and widely available option is cotton. Cotton is a solid fabric option because it's durable and breathable, allowing wearers the most temperature regulation while still keeping the body warm. Plus, cotton is kind to all skin types and is naturally hypoallergenic. Cotton is a low-maintenance material that's high quality but affordable for almost all budgets.


Silk is a pricier alternative to cotton, but the benefits of sleeping in silk shirts might outweigh the cost — especially for long-haired sleepers. Silk is gentler on skin and hair. Due to silk's chemical structure, it absorbs much less moisture and stays cleaner for longer.

Also, silk is silky: Because it's smooth and soft, there's far less friction when sleeping in silk. Individuals with sensitive skin or fragile, thin hair may want to try silk pajamas, as silk is both hydrating and naturally hypoallergenic. Plus, silk is breathable yet durable; even though it's a higher-maintenance option than cotton, a good silk pajama top lasts a long time.

Man sleeps on bed in t-shirt


Another fabric option to consider in your search for the perfect pajama shirt is linen. Linen is unique because it filters bacteria on its own; it's also hypoallergenic. Linen is a sweat-wicking material, so it does the grunt work of regulating your temperature for you. It's pretty absorbent yet light, so the linen helps wick sweat off your body to speed up the process of cooling down for bed without the material feeling heavy and swampy.

As a bonus, linen is an environmentally sustainable material, so while you sleep in a linen pajama shirt, you also reduce your carbon footprint.

Jersey Fabric

Jersey fabric is another popular option for sleep shirts. It's a knit fabric that's very elastic and stretchy, making it a well-liked option for pajamas. Jersey fabric is wrinkle-resistant and durable, so it's laundry-friendly. Jersey material is also skin-friendly because of its moisture-wicking properties, so you stay cool and dry through the night.

Honorable mentions for PJ shirt fabrics include fleece and flannel: Both are cozy, soft, affordable, and good for the skin! Many blankets are made with fleece or flannel.

Woman rests head to the side on both hands imitating sleeping


If you get easily grossed out or live in a drier climate, consider going to bed in a shirt. Sleeping with a shirt on lessens the amount of skin shed that gets into your sheets. To be clear, all humans "shed" skin cells every day, so don't go thinking that you're losing your skin left and right.

When you sleep without a shirt on, however, you may lose more skin cells than you would with a shirt on due to the increased friction between your skin and sheets. Not only can this affect your laundry schedule by requiring more frequent washing days, but increased skin shedding can even result in dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic organisms that attract (of course) dust, but they also like dead skin cells. They're relatively harmless but a nuisance and can cause cold-like symptoms in some individuals; they can severely affect allergy-prone individuals.

Simply throwing a shirt on before sleep might help combat dust mite presence in your bed.

Nighttime Adventures

When deciding whether or not to sleep with a shirt, there are more things to consider than just physical sleep quality. For many, paranoia may poke its head into these debates to give its two cents. For example, if there was some kind of emergency at night, having at least some clothes on would be more accessible, and you could just run out of the house without wasting time.

If you're a sleepwalker, sleeping with a shirt on might help avoid an awkward situation with any housemates. There are more than just health reasons to sleep in a shirt; it may be more logistically sound than sleeping without one.

Couple cuddle and sleep in bed with and without t-shirts

So, What's the Answer?

You've just read through some of the pros and cons to weigh regarding how you dress for sleep. Now that you have some more information, what's the correct answer to the ever-present question about sleeping with a shirt on or off?

As cliche as it might seem, it does come down to personal preference. Some articles claim that sleeping in the nude is the only way to go. Other articles claim that sleeping in a shirt and pants is better for your health and sleep quality than sleeping naked. How you choose to go to bed may depend on a few factors like where you live, the current season, the weather, the temperature in your room, your skin type, the condition of your overall health, and many more aspects that vary from person to person.

There's not one exact answer.

Generally speaking, if you struggle with feeling too hot at night or experience certain skin issues and acne, sleeping sans shirt is likely the better option. If you don't tend to struggle as much with temperature regulation at night, you might prefer to sleep in a shirt for basic skin protection. Paying attention to the material of the shirt that you sleep in is a must, as not all fabrics are equal.

It's best to do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Not everyone has the same preferences, so if you've been sleeping with or without a shirt for your entire life and haven't experienced any problems, stick with whatever works best for you!

However, if you've been consistently getting poor sleep, a change as simple as trying to sleep with or without a shirt might make all the difference. Whether you sleep with a shirt on or not, you need to get enough quality sleep. Good sleep is the key to a long, happy, and healthy life, so maximizing your time asleep improves the quality of your life in many ways and reduces your risk of developing long-term health problems.

Even with all the information to consider in this article, the question remains: to shirt or not to shirt?

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