Wishful thinking, right? A few months ago, Tom Brady raved about his new “athlete recovery” pajamas. They are touted to make you sleep better and wake up more restored. As a sleep scientist, I had to dig into brand new research to learn how Tom Brady’s PJs work.
Here’s what I found out:
Tom Brady's sleep pajamas are possible thanks to an advanced fabric inlaid with a new fabric/material technology called bio-ceramics.
Bio-ceramic clothing is created when various ceramics and mineral oxides are mixed together and super-heated. Once this mixture cools, the material that is produced is called a bio-ceramic and is suitable to be used in fabrics.
Traditionally, bio-ceramics have been used in the medical world as bone material (bio-ceramic materials are commonly used in hip replacement procedures).
The benefits of bio-ceramic clothing are reported to help increase blood flow and circulation. Since blood flow impacts sleep, this is why bio-ceramic fabric claims to increase sleep quality.
While it's true that increased blood flow can promote the urge to sleep, it's a balance. Too much blood flow can lead to an increase in one's core body temperature. This will keep you awake at night.
Too little blood flow can lead to discomfort and a cool body temperature.
The key is to find the middle ground.
Rather than simply increasing blood flow, the main factor for a good night’s sleep is in properly regulating your Core Body Temperature (or CBT).
We’ll dive into what your Core Body Temperature is and how it affects your sleep.
Over the past three decades, scientists have identified a very intimate relationship between sleep quality and Core Body Temperature (CBT). Simply put, when your CBT drops, your body prepares itself for deep, restorative sleep. When our CBT rises, the body prepares itself for being awake.
To further understand how core body temperature impacts sleep, you have to realize that your body’s core temperature fluctuates throughout the day. There are peaks and dips each day in your core body temperature (CBT) that impact your body’s overall energy levels.
When we wake in the morning, our Core Body Temperatures rises. Around lunchtime, our CBT peaks and then begins to fall. In the early afternoon, our CBT reaches a low point, which explains why we tend to be sleepy in the afternoon and in need of a nap (or some coffee, a much better alternative than energy drinks)
After the afternoon lull, your body’s core temperature starts to increase again until nightfall. During the night, your body’s Core Body Temperature starts to drop, which prepares you for your highest quality REM sleep.
Having quality, uninterrupted sleep throughout the night helps your body repair, recover, and prepare itself for the battles it faces the next day. During deep non-REM sleep, we release two very important, muscle building hormones: growth hormone and insulin growth factor.
Of course, growth hormone is the more recognizable hormone to athletes (like Tom Brady), but both of these hormones -growth hormone and insulin growth factor- help to build muscle and increase recovery.
Rather Than Tom Brady’s Expensive Pajamas, Consider Sleeping In A Colder Environment
As I mentioned above, having a high body temperature during the night can interfere with your body’s ability to get high quality sleep. While Tom Brady’s pajamas might help with increasing blood flow, the most important factor for better sleep is having a low core body temperature.
And sorry to say, but Tom Brady’s pajamas can’t guarantee that.
So rather than spending big money on a pair of pajamas, consider a simpler option for better sleep.
Sleep in a cool environment. A cool sleeping environment will allow your body to reach it’s lowest possible core temperature, which will provide massive benefits to your sleep quality.
That being said, here’s a my #1 sleep suggestion:
Sleep in a cold room between 60-73 degrees with minimal clothing/blankets. It may seem strange at first, but it releases all types of feel-good hormones in your body and improves your overall sleep quality.
Sleeping in a cool environment can be a difference maker. Below are a few other natural sleep tips. Following these sleep tips can go a long way towards helping you get refreshing sleep!
• Maintain A Constant Sleep/Awake Schedule. The timing of quality sleep is internally controlled by your biological clock.As humans, we were designed to stay awake during the day, and to sleep at night. If we sleep during the day (and stay awake at night), it is very difficult for our bodies to adjust (and it is very difficult to get optimal sleep).
• Take Magnesium: Most people are magnesium deficient and need to supplement. In fact, research shows that almost half of the US population is magnesium deficient. Magnesium has many benefits. It helps to maintain and fine-tune functioning of the nervous system (remember, sleep is a function of the nervous system). Additionally, Magnesium helps to calm your body down and relax your muscles. This makes Magnesium the perfect supplement to take before bed to help you finish winding down.
• Try a Sleep Supplement: Sleep is crucial. If you struggle with occasional sleeplessness, you know that lack of sleep is no joke! For those trying times, natural sleep aids are a great idea. Make sure to get a specific nighttime formula that is designed to help you achieve your goal, whether that falling asleep or staying asleep.
The take-away from this post is that lowering your core body temperature is optimal for your sleep. Whether or not Tom Brady's PJs switch from warming to cooling in the middle of the night has yet to be determined.
Rather than spending money on fancy pajamas, try sleeping in a cooler environment first, and see how that improves your sleep quality.
Dr. Allison Brager is a neuroscientist specializing in the physiology and genetics of sleep and performance. She is author of Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, which debunks the myth of the "dumb jock" and serves as a manual for optimizing athletic performance through neuroscience. Outside of the laboratory, she is a former college athlete and Crossfit Games team athlete.