Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Who Sleeps Nude Keeps Mom Awake at Night

DEAR ABBY: I started college last fall and moved into a dorm. My roommate and I get along great. She sleeps in the nude. It shocked me at first, but the weather was hot, so I tried it. Now I wouldn't sleep any other way.

Last week, while I was visiting my family, my mother came into my room to wake me. She saw my bare shoulders and correctly assumed I was nude underneath the blankets. You should have seen her reaction! She is now convinced that I am sexually active, which I am not. She thinks my roommate and I must be lesbians. (We're both straight.) She says what I am doing is immoral and un-Christian.

Abby, I am a very religious person. I cannot see how sleeping in the nude is immoral. I don't talk about it or prance around nude. Am I missing something? How can I convince Mother that what I'm doing is really OK? -- FEELING THE HEAT

DEAR FEELING THE HEAT: Nudity is not immoral; it has nothing to do with religion. It is not an indication of sexual activity or lack of it. Nudity is simply a state of undress. You are comfortable with it; your mother is not. You probably can't convince a person who feels that nudity is fundamentally wrong that it's OK. Part of growing up is learning to listen to our conscience and deciding what's right for us. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My 16-year-old daughter, "Jenny," sleeps at her best friend's house about once a month. Her friend has a double bed, which they share. I have been fine with this. I have slept in the same bed with other women, and there was nothing sexual about it.

Since last summer, Jenny has been sleeping in the nude. I don't have a problem with that, either. She doesn't parade around the house naked and is quite modest. I started sleeping in the nude when I was 18. Again, there was nothing sexual about it.

The other day, I asked Jenny if she slept in the nude when she was at her friend's house. She said they both did. It has been bothering me ever since. I can't help feeling their friendship is sexual. I'm afraid asking her outright would make her angry or might result in her lying to me, since she knows I would not approve of her having sex with anyone at this age.

Abby, do you think it's possible two 16-year-old girls could share the same bed naked and not be sexually involved? What can I do to ease my mind? -- SUSPICIOUS MOM IN NAPA, CALIF.

DEAR SUSPICIOUS MOM: Yes, I do think it's possible. However, your question is intriguing. Are there any other reasons you are suspicious? Has she shown an interest in boys?

Your daughter will not become defensive when you talk to her about her sexual orientation unless you appear accusatory or judgmental. Although time may answer your question for you, you and she are overdue for a frank and loving mother-daughter chat. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I recently heard the best way to sleep soundly is to keep your feet and hands warm. The image I had from this report was: Sleep with socks and mittens, but nothing else.

A few days later, another article claimed that when you sleep totally nude, heat is more evenly distributed, thus you sleep more comfortably, even in the cold of winter.

What have you heard about sleeping in the nude? -- NUDIST IN SANTA CLARITA, CALIF.

DEAR NUDIST: Only this: Heat escapes from the top of the head and the bottom of the feet. So to conserve body heat, wear socks and a ski cap. And pray that anyone who sees you doesn't die laughing.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 932-6600