Should I wear socks to bed?

With the average person spending around a third of their existence snoozing, getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of everyone’s life. But how far do you go to ensure you are getting good quality sleep? While it probably isn’t an issue that’s keeping you up at night, over the past few years the debate over the potential benefits of wearing a cosy pair of socks in bed has become an increasingly hot topic.

Whether you expose your bare toes to the elements outside of the blanket or keep them snuggled up and buried inside your duvet, sleeping habits are usually established at a young age. However, it’s normal to experience periods of your life where good quality sleep feels harder to come by. One simple trick that is becoming increasingly popular as a way of making it easier to nod off is wearing socks to bed. From pairs of woolly socks to improve circulation to wet cotton socks to ease your cold symptoms, carry on reading to discover all you need to know about the potential benefits of this new craze.

person in bed wearing blue striped bed socks

Why wear wet socks to bed?

Of course, there is some logic in donning a comfy pair of socks in bed. If your feet are cold, the blood vessels constrict which allows less blood to circulate. Ensuring your feet are warm before going to bed, and keeping them nice and toasty throughout the night, can shorten the amount of time it takes for your body to relax and doze off. This all makes sense, right? However, what’s a little harder to get your mind around is why some people recommend climbing into bed wearing a pair of wet socks.

Well, believe it or not, there is a method to this madness. The practise of wearing wet socks to bed is a technique that has been used for generations. Recommended as a home remedy to fight the symptoms of various different ailments - from the flu to constipation, digestive issues to hangovers - it turns out that wearing wet socks when trying to get to sleep might not be such a crazy idea.

When your feet begin to cool down inside a pair of wet socks, the blood vessels in your feet start to contract. It is claimed that this process sends good nutrients into the tissues and organs throughout your body, helping to fight off infections and kick-starting healing processes. As the night goes on and your feet begin to warm up again, your blood vessels will then dilate to release this excess heat. At this point, your tissues and organs release toxins that have built up, allowing your body to dispose of them. This alternating of hot and cold periods for your feet stimulates circulation and lymphatics, giving your immune system a little boost. 

If you feel as though you might be coming down with a cold or the dreaded flu, why not give the wet socks method a go? Here's what you’ll need to do:     

-       Prior to heading to bed, soak a pair of fresh cotton socks in cold water before wringing them out and placing them to one side.     

-       Next, soak your feet in a bowl of warm water until your skin starts to soften and turns a rosey pink colour.     

-       Once you have soaked your feet, dry them off with a towel and immediately put on your cold, damp socks.   

-       Next, place a fresh pair of dry woollen socks over the top of your wet socks, ensuring neither pair feel tight around your ankles. 

-       Finally, climb into bed and make sure your feet remain covered throughout the night.   And remember, if you’re still not feeling back to your normal self, you can repeat the process for a few consecutive nights until you start to feel the benefits.

Can I wear compression socks to bed?

Compression socks, also known as pressure socks, are designed to help blood flow from your legs back towards your heart. Usually either waist-high or finishing just below the knee, these stockings are great for reducing swelling in the legs by limiting fluid build-up, making them a favourite of high intensity athletes. Also used for medical purposes, compression socks are often prescribed to people suffering from a range of different health issues, as well as post-surgery patients, due to their ability to prevent the development of blood clots in the leg.

While some athletes swear by sleeping in their compression socks, particularly during intense periods of training, wearing these stockings to bed is not generally recommended. Unless prescribed by your doctor for a specific medical purpose, there is actually no need for you to do this. Even though the gentle pressure provided by compression socks is known to increase blood flow in your legs - in turn improving your circulation - when worn while lying down in bed, they can actually have an adverse effect.

When you’re awake and active, compression socks provide a consistent level of pressure to your circulatory system, making it have to work harder and actively fight gravity to pump blood back to your heart. However, when you are fully horizontal for a prolonged period of time - say when you go to bed for the night - your circulatory system no longer has to fight gravity. This unnecessary pressure provided by the socks can therefore cut the circulation off to your ankles and calves overnight, which could actually lead to blockage in blood flow.

Whether it’s to help your body better relax, for prescribed medical reasons through the use of compression socks, or even to fight the first symptoms of illness and strengthen your immune system, there are plenty of benefits to wearing socks in bed. It’s just a case of knowing what type of socks, and in what situation, will benefit you most.

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