What Did People Wear to Bed in Ancient Times?

Have you ever wondered what people wore to bed in ancient times? It may come as a surprise, but the concept of pajamas or nightclothes is a relatively modern invention. Let’s take a look at the sleeping habits and attire of different cultures throughout history.

Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, both men and women slept in the nude. However, they did wear simple linen garments during the day. These garments were often adorned with amulets and other symbols for protection.

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks also preferred to sleep naked. They believed that clothing hindered the body’s natural functions and could lead to illness. However, they did wear simple tunics during the day.


Romans also slept in the nude, but they had a unique way of keeping warm during cold nights. They used a type of portable furnace known as a “foculus” or “smoke box.” This device was filled with hot coals and placed near their beds to keep them warm.

Medieval Europe

During medieval times, sleeping naked was considered scandalous and immoral. Men wore long shirts called “nightshirts,” while women wore long dresses made of linen or silk. These garments were often adorned with lace and embroidery.

Colonial America

In early America, nightclothes were still not common. Men usually slept in their shirts and breeches, while women wore their shifts or chemises to bed. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that pajamas became popular in America.

In Conclusion

As you can see, people throughout history have had vastly different sleeping habits and attire than what we are used to today. While some cultures preferred to sleep naked for comfort or health reasons, others believed that covering up was necessary for modesty. Regardless of the time period or culture, one thing remains constant: a good night’s sleep is essential for overall health and well-being.

  • Ancient Egyptians slept naked and wore simple linen garments during the day.
  • Ancient Greeks also preferred to sleep naked and believed clothing hindered natural bodily functions.
  • Romans used portable furnaces to keep warm at night but also slept in the nude.
  • Medieval Europeans considered sleeping naked scandalous and wore long shirts or dresses to bed.
  • Colonial Americans slept in their everyday clothes until pajamas became popular in the late 1800s.


– “What Did People Wear to Bed in Ancient Times?” by Erin Blakemore, Smithsonian Magazine
– “The History of Sleepwear” by Bailey Chauner, National Sleep Foundation.