If you’re having trouble catching those Z’s at night, the solution may be right at your feet. Not really.
While stress and certain health issues are often the culprits behind insomnia and its restless nights, there may be another reason why you can’t sleep: cold feet. A 2018 study found that participants who wore socks to bed fell asleep fasterthey stayed asleep longer and woke up less often than those who did not wear socks.
So, should you sleep with socks? Read on to discover the benefits of wearing socks to bed, including the connection between feet and sleep and who should avoid sleeping in socks.
For more help getting a better night’s sleep, check out our story on how to fall asleep in 10 minutes
or less and our list of seven natural remedies for insomnia.
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Can wearing socks help me sleep better at night?
Over the course of a day, your core body temperature rises and falls with yours circadian rhythm, aka your body’s 24-hour internal clock. Here’s how it works.
You are warmest in the early evening, between 4 and 8 p.m. When you start to feel tired, your core temperature starts to drop, which tells your body it’s time to go to bed. By cooling off at this time, you can sleep more comfortably and avoid overheating at night, which can lead to insomnia or poor sleep quality.
However, if your body senses that your feet are cold, it may try to compensate by raising your core temperature—and when you’re hotter, it may be more difficult to fall asleep.
By wearing socks at night, you will warm your feet and in turn cause the blood vessels to dilate. This process is known as vasodilation, and it helps your body release heat through your skin, ultimately lowering your core body temperature.
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Benefits of wearing socks to bed
While sleeping in socks can help you fall asleep faster and get better rest, that’s not the only benefit of wearing socks to bed. Here’s how else it can help.
Reduce the symptoms of Raynaud’s syndrome
Raynaud’s syndrome causes blood vessels in the extremities to constrict, reducing blood flow to those areas. As a result, the condition can cause the affected parts of your body – which can include your fingers, nose and feet – to feel cold and numb. If you sleep with socks, you can keep your feet warm, which reduces the chance of a Raynaud’s attack.
Reduce hot flashes due to menopause
If you experience hot flashes in menopause or night sweats, it might surprise you to learn that wearing socks to bed can help keep you cool. Before a hot flash, your core body temperature rises – but as we know, keeping your feet warm at night helps to lower your temperature, which can counteract some of the menopausal heat loss.
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Reduce insomnia symptoms
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get restful sleep. There are many risk factors, including mental conditions and other medical problems. Research has found that warming up your feet before bed helps you fall asleep faster, suggesting that wearing socks at night can alleviate insomnia.
Prevents cracked feet
If you have cracked feet or dry heels, you may be able to heal them by following a bedtime foot care routine that includes sleeping with socks. For best results, you’ll want to soak your feet, pat them dry, exfoliate the dead skin, and apply a lotion or medicated cream. Finally, put on a pair of clean, breathable cotton socks to lock in moisture.
Things to keep in mind
If you decide to wear your socks while you sleep, there are a few things to keep in mind, including the right type of socks to wear to bed. We will explain more about this below. It’s also important to mention that wearing socks before bed isn’t for everyone. For example, if you have circulation problems or swollen feet, sleeping with socks can reduce blood flow and make these problems worse.
What socks should I wear to bed?
First of all, you’ll want to choose a pair of socks that are loose and comfortable. If they are too tight, they can affect circulation. You should not sleep in compression stockings unless your doctor has recommended it.
Likewise, you should choose socks that are made of natural materials rather than synthetic materials. Natural fibers like cotton and cashmere are more breathable, which prevents bacteria growth and moisture retention.
Some of the best stocking options include:
Cotton socks: As a plant-based material, cotton socks are an ideal option for vegans or people who don’t want to wear animal products. They are warm and allow your skin to breathe without trapping moisture, which is perfect for temperature regulation.
Cashmere Socks: Cashmere is a super fine material made from goat hair. It’s light and warm, but doesn’t overheat your feet.
Merino wool socks: Made from the wool of Merino sheep, this fabric is softer and thinner than traditional wool. These socks are excellent moisture wickers and are designed to keep your toes comfortable and dry through the night.
Sleeping socks: These are socks made specifically for sleeping. Sleeping socks are thick but breathable and made of different materials.
Is sleeping barefoot bad for sleep?
While sleeping with socks has its benefits, that doesn’t mean it’s bad to sleep barefoot. Sleeping without socks will not negatively affect your health, but as discussed above, if you have insomnia, Raynaud’s syndrome, or menopausal night sweats, wearing socks may help relieve some of your symptoms.
Any alternatives if I hate wearing socks?
If you don’t like wearing socks while you sleep, there are a few alternative ways to reap the benefits of sleeping with socks. One of the simplest options is to take a warm foot bath before jumping into bed, which has been linked to better sleep.
Another option is to place a warm blanket or heating pad at the end of your bed. Doing this will keep your feet comfortable and improve circulation – without having to wear socks.
A final alternative is to try making your own rice socks. These are rice-filled socks that have been heated in the microwave to provide a constant source of warmth while you fall asleep. They are not meant to be worn, but rather serve as a homemade heating pad.
To make rice socks, you’ll need a pair of sturdy socks, rubber bands, and six cups of uncooked rice. After you have gathered the materials, pour three cups of rice into each sock and tie it with a rubber band. Heat the socks in the microwave for a minute or two and then tuck them under your covers to keep your feet toasty.
Can children sleep with socks?
If your little one has trouble falling asleep, ask your pediatrician if it’s safe for him to sleep with socks on. Babies can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively as adults, so it’s important to make sure they don’t overheat.
To promote better sleep, you can try giving your child a warm bath before bed. It’s best to avoid heaters, electric blankets and hot water bottles in your little one’s bed, as these items can burn them or pose a fire hazard.
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