Sleep is a vital part of everyone's life. After all, humans spend around a third of their days sleeping.
The National Institute of Health say that sleep is essential for normal brain and body function.
Most people have difficulty getting to sleep from time to time. One trick they may not have tried is sleeping with their socks on.
Read on to find out more about the benefits and risks of sleeping with socks on.
Socks help you fall asleep
Studies suggest that wearing socks in bed may aid sleep.
It may seem like wearing socks in bed would overheat the feet. But, in reality, this habit might assist the body's internal temperature regulation.
A study from 2007 reported that adults who wore either normal or heated socks in bed got to sleep faster.
This is because a person's core body temperature drops during the night, reaching the lowest temperature around 4 a.m. The average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (°F), but this varies by 1 to 2 degrees over the course of 24 hours.
Warming up the feet and hands makes the blood vessels dilate, a response that is called vasodilation. This releases heat through the skin and helps to lower core body temperature. This, in turn, sends a message to the brain that it is bedtime.
Research suggests that warm skin is associated with getting to sleep faster.
Sleep and body temperature
A person's core body temperature is affected by their biological clock, also called their circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm controls the timing of sleep, making a person feel sleepy at night and awake in the morning.
Body temperature gradually rises during the day, peaking in the late afternoon when people feel most awake and alert. Body temperature then decreases during the night, making a person feel sleepy.
When someone begins to fall asleep, the temperature of their body decreases by 1 to 2 degrees. This could be because the body is conserving energy for other functions.
If a person sleeps with their socks on, this may help with their temperature regulation cycles.
Good temperature regulation in the body is also why it is usually suggested that people keep their bedrooms cool, somewhere between 60 and 67°F.
Other benefits of wearing socks in bed
Reducing Raynaud's symptoms
Wearing socks while sleeping may help to prevent the symptoms of Raynaud's disease.
Hands and feet that are frequently cold could be a sign of Raynaud's disease.
Raynaud's is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the skin. Attacks usually happen when a person is feeling cold or stressed.
During an attack, blood flow to the hands and feet is reduced. As a result, the fingers and toes start to feel cold and numb. They may also change color to white or blue.
People experiencing a Raynaud's attack for the first time should speak to a doctor. Wearing socks in bed could help reduce symptoms, as well as keeping warm throughout the day .
Preventing hot flushes
Many women going through the menopause will experience hot flashes or flushes. Symptoms include:
- a sudden sensation of intense warmth that spreads through the body
- flushing of the face
The ability of socks to help lower core body temperature during the night can also be of benefit in preventing hot flashes.
This is because hot flashes are thought to be caused by hormonal fluctuations that affect the body's temperature control.
According to a popular news story from 2005, one study found that couples who wore socks in bed were more likely to orgasm during sex.
The study reportedly investigated brain responses during sex and found that cold feet put people off. However, the study quoted in the news report was small, using only 13 couples.
Alternatives to socks in bed
A hot water bottle will help to warm the feet, and may offer similar benefits to wearing socks in bed.
People who are averse to wearing socks in bed could also try:
- a warm foot bath before bedtime
- wearing a warm pair of slipper before getting into bed
- sleeping with a hot water bottle near the feet
- sleeping with a blanket over the foot of the bed
- taking a bath 1 or 2 hours before bedtime
If using heated socks, then it is important not to overheat them. If they are too hot they can not only burn the skin but also pose a fire hazard.
Despite what is often said, wearing socks in bed is not unhygienic. However, it is important to choose a pair of socks that are not too tight, as this can reduce circulation.
Avoid wearing compression socks in bed, unless otherwise directed to by your doctor.
Adults typically need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact concentration, memory, and mood. A chronic lack of sleep can also increase the risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity.
Temperature regulation is an important part of falling asleep. Wearing socks in bed increases blood flow to feet and heat loss through the skin, which helps lower core body temperature. In turn, this helps a person get to sleep faster.
For similar reasons, wearing socks in bed may also help prevent attacks in people with Raynaud's phenomenon and hot flushes in women going through the menopause.