Sleeping Naked

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The water pitter patters on the thatched roof of the nipa hut as you lay on the bamboo bed. A small stream forms underneath you as you sleep. Nearby, a rooster crows, tik-ti-la-ok! If you're American, the rooster would probably say cock-a-doodle-doo.

I think that I'm not alone in asking this question: why do Westerners sleep naked or half naked when most of Western civilization and culture is generally situated in colder climes? As a Southeast Asian (Philippines) who lives in a tropical climate where the mean average temperature (excluding Baguio City and weather extremes) is 26.6 C | 79.88 F and
  • the coldest 25.5 C | 77.9 F 
  • the hottest 28.3 C | 82.94 F 
Source: PAGASA

The easiest assumption to make is surprisingly not temperature and climate. 

Despite the heat, it's standard practice for a Filipino to sleep fully clothed and with a blanket. We compensate with air-conditioning and generally, electric fans.

Electric Fan

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So why do Westerners sleep naked? I asked my contacts on various social networks and the most common reply was: "freedom in movement"

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On Quora > Do you sleep naked or half naked?

At the onset, this is certainly a very interesting topic to pursue for social scientists. The cultural differences lay the foundations for greater cultural understanding. As we proceed in living in the global village, we talk about paradigms such as tolerance and understanding. But do we truly have tolerance if we cannot understand how we do even the simple things such as sleeping?

For the interested researcher:

This could be the topic of an international study if your resources permit you to do so. Since this is only a blog post that grabbed my interest, I have reached a few tentative conclusions and assumptions that are not concretized or formalized. One of them is history and the other possible explanation is religion. My background is Christian, both Catholic and Protestant. I sleep fully clothed but I have never heard any priest or pastor talk about this. My basis for sleeping fully clothed is practicality even though it's warm.

I have searched on the Internet and I've found that in predominantly Muslim Indonesia, there are some Islamic references to modesty. I leave that up to you to search.

As a Filipino, here is what I can say on the matter. Historically, Filipinos slept either on a "banig" which is a large woven floor mat, on bamboo or wooden flooring or even on the ground itself. Now the mattress and cushions were brought here a long time ago but were mostly afforded by the upper and middle class. Later on these mattresses were afforded by the masses too.

Tabaco Mats Unrolled

It's possible that Roman Catholicism may have influenced our sleeping habits but this needs to be verified.

My simple explanation however would have to redound to sleeping on the floor. Sleeping naked on the floor whether concrete, bamboo, wooden and specially on the dirt is simply not practical. The tropical nature and clime of the Philippines would ensure that there would always be cockroaches, rats, centipedes, snakes and other creatures that could take interest on a naked human regardless of how well sanitized and cleaned your house is.

Apparently this has carried over to urban living even though such pests have been minimized and controlled. Thus, we don't sleep naked.

There are many more avenues to take in this research such as humidity, heat, the possibility for pneumonia, mosquitoes and malaria.

Thanks to all who participated.

I think I will still sleep fully clothed.