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The Dangers of Sleeping Naked

photo of sleeping hand in bed
By Michael Breus, PhD, ABSMNovember 02, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

I was amused this week when I read in the Guardian about Travelodge’s current crisis with sleepwalkers in the buff. The hotel chain now keeps towels on hand at the front desk to help these lost souls cover up when they wake up and find themselves out in public with, well, everything out in public.

Towels? I think they should use robes. If, God forbid, I were to wake up in the lobby of a hotel with strangers checking me out, I think I’d rather don a robe and dash as politely as possible back to my room than wrap a flimsy hotel towel around my waist and make a run for it (we know how insubstantial some of those hotel towels can be). According to Travelodge, the incidence of naked sleepwalking, which occurs almost exclusively among its male guests, has increased sevenfold in the past year. Now the staff is learning how to deal with this unsettling trend. I love how they call it a “phenomena.”

Sleepwalking is not very common in the general population (estimates vary between 1 and 15 percent). It’s more common in children than in adults, and Travelodge may be seeing more men than women in this behavior simply because it has more male than female guests. Because sleepwalking typically occurs if a person is sleep deprived, I’d venture to guess that many of these men are in work-related stays at the hotel and could use more sleep. Sleepwalking originates during deep sleep and the person usually remains in that state throughout the episode. Sometimes it’s hard to awaken a sleepwalker, and the person may or may not recall getting out of bed…but no doubt he may think twice about forgoing the pajamas the next time.

Which brings to me this question: What’s with all these men sleeping bare naked? I was curious enough to find out if there were any statistics about people who sleep in their birthday suit. I came across ABC News’ poll called “American Sex Survey,” which was done three years ago (this kind of data tends to be evergreen). Guess what: men are twice as likely as women to sleep in the nude (31 percent of men, 14 percent of women). Who knew?

But I wonder if those figures change when it comes to traveling. I don’t know about you, but even if you’re not a sleepwalker, being in a place other than the comforts of my own bed has its own hazards. Perhaps with the allure of carry-on luggage only these days, the pajamas get left behind.

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