Comfortable sleepwear is an important element of sleep hygiene. Most people prefer to not sleep in the nude, although that is an option if it makes you more comfortable.
Sleepwear is as individual as the people who wear it. There are sleep bras, which are designed to support and conform to the wearer, no matter how she twists and turns. Nightgowns come in any number of lengths, with and without sleeves. Pajamas range from traditional long styles through "shorties" and tap pants (shorts, often ruffled) that cover the bottom and only an inch or so of the thigh). From long, flowing kimonos to short terry cloth wrap styles, robes provide not only warmth but style and personality to a sleepwear ensemble.
When choosing sleepwear, perhaps the most important factor is fabric. While style and fit are important, if the garment does not breath or irritates the skin, a good night's sleep is hard to come by. Caring for the garment should be factored into the buying decision. Some fancy nightgowns can only be worn once between visits to the dry cleaner and are appropriate only for the wealthy and indulgent.
High-thread count cotton pajamas are a good choice in warmer weather. It allows the skin to breath, is light-weight, and very few people are allergic to cotton. Cotton is also machine washable and subject to only slight shrinkage if tumble dried.
In cooler climates, flannel or fleece are good choices. Flannel material can be made from cotton or wool, often adulterated with synthetic fibers for durability or flame retardation. Fleece is usually a wool or synthetic, as in the popular "microfleece" which had a shallower pile than traditional fleece. While both are warm, some people may find flannel or fleece made with wool itchy, either due to the rougher texture or as a result of the lanolin residue that makes natural wool water repellent. Most types of flannel and fleece require special care to avoid shrinkage.
For those looking for a bit more luxury in their night clothes, silk or satin are excellent alternatives. While these require more specialized care than other fabrics, their soft, smooth texture makes these a treat to wear. Silk has long been used in the East as an insulator, which makes it not only attractive, but practical for everyone from romantics to campers. Satin, on the other hand, tends to remain cooler to the touch, making it eminently suitable for warmer climes.
While clothes that bind or sag can lead to tossing and turning, almost no one can sleep when they are too hot, too cold, or constantly chafing. Selecting the right fabrics and textures ensures the comfort of the wearer, making for a more restful sleep.
Technology Review reports on a nighshirt that monitors sleep.