a person in pajamas sitting with clothes all around them

The Pajamas Dilemma

Last updated: January 2023

I have always been finicky with clothing. Ever since I was a child and my mom would take me shopping for clothes, I was quite tactile and sensory when shopping. As I passed by clothing, I would see something that appeared to be soft, and I would immediately touch it and see if it was. Or, the opposite — see if something rough looked as scratchy in texture as it felt to my fingers.

Sensitivity to texture since childhood

This was likely because I had a lot of sensitivities as a child. Perhaps one would call me a Highly Sensitive Person (or, as they refer to children, an Orchid Child). This meant allergies to detergents, and it meant — in general — itchy skin reacting to who even knows what.

I simply didn't like uncomfortable clothing. Clingy clothing. Rough material. Some material, like wool, I had a downright unpleasant response to.

As an adult, it has made me pretty laid back when it comes to fashion. I follow the principles of comfort, with a preference for soft and smooth textures and avoidance of anything too rough being key. I definitely still avoid anything that has too much skin contact; no super-duper-tight clothing for me.

RLS and sleepwear considerations

If I don't follow my rules, I get quite uncomfortable and antsy. I can get itchy and aggravated. Layer that on top of restless legs syndrome (RLS), and it gets extremely unpleasant fast.

There is nothing worse to me than pants that cling to my legs when they feel that intense, painful crawling. I can’t stand that layer aggravating my skin on top of the RLS aggravating under my skin.

Material and body temperature regulation

Material is even more important for nightwear than daywear, not only in regard to texture but also thickness.

It's different in winter than in summer; RLS definitely doesn't dig heat, in my case, so I need to keep cool in the summer. That means light, breathable material and knee-length PJs or shorts. In winter, I can go with something softer to snuggle in.

Sizing and style needs

Either way, I always go at least 1 size too large. I need loose. If I feel even a little bit of clinging around the legs, it makes my RLS feel significantly worse in that I focus on it a whole lot more.

Style matters, because there is this thing I have noticed with women’s PJ pants where they have a cuff around the ankle — perhaps for people like me, who are a wee bit short, so that we are not tripping on the extra material. Whatever the reason for it, I don't choose those, ever. That’s an ankle trap. The one time I got a pair of those as a present, I spent a very frustrated night pulling at those with my feet.

Making the best sleepwear choice for me

I would likely make the same choices without RLS. However, I know if I make the wrong choices, the discomfort makes me focus on my RLS significantly more.

It makes me wonder if I would be able to tolerate the idea of compression socks.

What are some of the considerations you make when buying clothes, particularly loungewear or sleepwear? Share your tips in the comments below!

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