How often are you naked? More than, say, the time it takes you to change clothes, shower or have sex? Do you like being naked, or do you avoid it as much as you can?
If you are a person with breasts and a vagina, you’ve probably been given serious mixed signals about nudity. On one hand, it’s seen as a taboo; you should cover up as much as possible because you don’t want to appear overtly sexual, and on the other hand, wearing clothing that covers "too much" of your body means you aren’t interested in being attractive to men, which is also apparently bad.
It’s hard to get that kind of double-talk out of your mind, especially when combined with messages that women’s bodies are perpetually imperfect, and unless yours is deemed exceptional, you should feel ashamed of it.
What if I told you there were actual health benefits to nudity? (Aside from having better sex, which we know improves overall health throughout our lives.) Well, it turns out there are, and they might make you think about how you can spend more time clothes-free.
If you have trouble sleeping, try being naked. According to Dr. Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author, the skin-to-skin contact that happens when you sleep naked with someone else releases oxytocin, a hormone that reduces blood pressure, combats stress and depression and might improve orgasms.
You don’t have to have a partner to reap the benefits of naked sleep, though — whether or not you’re with someone, sleeping naked will likely result in better sleep, since clothes can hamper your body’s natural ability to cool itself down and achieve an ideal temperature for sleep and metabolization.
Being naked can provide that elusive “new” feeling that we don’t get as often as we get older according to Sandra Hilton, a physical therapist in private practice in Chicago.
“If being naked makes you happy and you find a way to enjoy the sensation, it could lead to better self-image," she explains. "There is a certain feeling of exhilaration to being naked that provides a novel stimulus and doing new, fun things is certainly a health benefit!”
If being naked is not fun for you but you’d like to change that, start incorporating more nudity into your life slowly. Britanny Burr, an author at Psych n Sex, suggests finding others who are curious about exploring nudity and supporting each other in asking questions and experimenting with new things, like being naked in private spaces where you feel safe.
Burr suggests looking at and touching your naked body more frequently. Others don’t have to see you for it to count — do it on your own terms.
A lack of vitamin D can really mess with you since it’s directly related to the function of your immune system. So having your skin exposed to the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course), which increases levels of vitamin D, is a great way to boost immunity to colds and viruses.
Being naked is also good for your skin for reasons that aren’t vitamin D-related. You sweat less when you’re naked, of course, and that can reduce occurrences of rashes and breakouts.
If you’re considering breastfeeding, it might be beneficial to start getting comfortable with being topless now. Cracked nipples can be a part of the breastfeeding experience, especially while you’re getting used to it, so letting your breasts get some air after feeding can help your nipples heal.
Lactation consultant Becky Flora advises leaving both sides of your nursing bra open while feeding instead of covering up the breast you aren’t using at the moment. By regularly exposing your breasts to the air, you also can reduce the likelihood of developing mastitis, the inflammation of the breast that happens when milk ducts get clogged and can result in infection.
So next time you're on the fence about whether to spend some time in the buff, give it a try — as long as you are in a safe, private place where you feel comfortable.
Originally published on HelloFlo.
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