Why pajama parties strengthen female friendships

von Irène Schäppi 28 Juli 2021

Why pajama parties strengthen female friendships

In the second grade, sleepover parties at school friends’ houses were my worst nightmare. Because as soon as the lights went out, I got really homesick, crying fits and all. It was soon clear that my parents would have to come get me in the middle of the night.

Luckily I finally got the hang of sleepovers as a teenager and couldn't get enough of midnight parties with my BFF at the time: We stuffed our faces with pizza, watched Beverly Hills 90210 (oh, Dylan!), and danced to Take That late at night. It was us against the world.

Why have sleepovers at all?

But when we turned 20, we stopped sleeping over at our girlfriends' houses. We felt too grown up for that. After moving into our first shared apartment, it just wasn't cool to hang out with two or three of us in our pajamas anymore. Meeting girlfriends for drinks on a terrace felt a lot more like Sex and the City.

Pajama parties are simply no longer a thing for most adults. Because it's much easier to order an Uber around 11pm. Because it's annoying to haul huge bags of cosmetics and pajamas, as well as an outfit for the next day, first to the office and then to the sleepover location. And why sleep with someone else when your own bed is so much more comfortable?

Female friendships need sleepovers

My own positive feelings towards pajama parties have also been kept at bay for the last 20 years, for the reasons mentioned above. But by now I know: it's all nonsense. Because last week, instead of rushing home like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, I spontaneously stayed with a friend, her son and their dog. And I had something of an epiphany: female friendships need sleepovers. Thanks to my decision to sleepover that night, my soul sister and I almost magically had a lot more time. The excuse often used by adults, "I have to go now because I have to get up early tomorrow," suddenly had no power that night. The child also no longer needed to be put to bed. Which is why at midnight we fried hash browns in coconut fat, laid tarot cards in the room lit only by street lamps and made plans for life after #mercuryretrograde.

You create more closeness

We also seemed to talk to each other even more openly. Instead of briefly updating each other on our lives, as we usually do over a coffee before work or during after-work drinks, we were able to go deeper in the middle of the night: We talked about fears concerning finances or our jobs. Deborah Tannen, an American author and socio-linguist, explains this phenomenon as follows: "The silence of the night and the feeling of security that often comes with it creates a more intimate atmosphere that makes it easier to confide in someone."

And yes: even ordinary bedtime rituals like removing makeup or brushing teeth felt somehow - I can't put it any other way - more loving that evening. Of course, you could argue that you can also experience this feeling with a girlfriend on vacation. But Deborah Tannen finds: "Normally, this routine takes place at home alone or together with a partner or family member. In a special setting like a sleepover, however, bedtime rituals act like a meta-message of closeness and manage to make us feel even more instinctively connected to our girlfriends."

Midnight party instead of happy hour

Here, too, I can only agree. Because although I didn't really sleep very well that night - and went to work tired the next morning - my heart felt like it was covered in cotton candy. A feeling that immediately rises again in me as soon as I think of this spontaneous sleepover and my dear friend. Which is why I will soon invite her and my other soul sisters to a midnight party at my place instead of after work drinks. And as I now know from my own experience, that's possible even during the week.

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