Even if you are a morning person, when your alarm goes off before dawn on a Saturday so you can get in those long miles, it is natural to have a sense of dread (even if it only lasts for a minute). There have been many hacks written for runners, including the time-saving tip to wear your running clothes to bed. There can be so much to remember — water bottle, gels, sunscreen and more — that giving yourself one less thing to worry about can seem innocent enough.
Is being able to jump out of bed, throw on a pair of shoes and step out the door worth the five minutes saved? Here’s why one expert advises against it:
Our beds are usually thought of as sanctuaries, but we have some bad news: They are gross. So gross, in fact, that NC State University found chimpanzees have cleaner beds — or nests — than we do. It turns out that their beds are less likely to harbor fecal, oral or skin bacteria. Ours, however? The study found all of those in human beds, with 35% of it coming from our own bodies.
This is not supposed to deter you from climbing into bed after a long day, but it should encourage you to wash your sheets regularly. Prioritize washing your sheets over making your bed (really) and not lounging in your pajamas after waking up.
“If you sweat a lot then [you should wash your sheets] at least weekly,” advises Marilyn C. Roberts, PhD, a professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington. “If you have a skin disease, [wash them] at least once per week. Also, if you sleep with pets — I do not advise this — then [wash sheets] at least once per week; especially if the pet goes outside.”
Another way to keep germs at bay is to wash your feet before bed. Roberts recommends doing this especially if you wear sandals. Taking a shower before bed is optimal, “even if it is multiple times a day.”
It may seem a bit odd that even if you threw on a clean pair of running clothes before bed that you shouldn’t wear them on a run the next morning even though you just were laying in them for (hopefully) eight hours. Taking into consideration all of those germs, however, helps rationalize this advice. Consider laying out your running gear the night before to save time in the morning.
“It takes so little time to put on new clothes and is much more healthy — especially changing your underwear,” suggests Roberts. “It could lead to infections of the bladder and more if you do not change your underwear everyday.” You don’t need to sleep naked, however, there is a correlation between a good night’s sleep and cool body temperatures, so wearing breathable clothing to help regulate your temperature is recommended.
If you are disappointed that you can’t wear your running clothes to bed, thanks to Under Armour you can wear pajamas that were made for athletes. The Athlete Recovery Sleepwear absorbs your natural body heat to help you sleep better.
Even though you shouldn’t be sleeping in your running clothes, you can get some relief knowing you are helping facilitate a better night’s sleep. This, in turn, makes your performance — and recovery — even better than before. It may take an extra five minutes to get out the door for a run or quickly change before that much-deserved post-run nap, but your bed, body and overall health will thank you for it.