Sleep Myths Debunked: Sleeping With Socks
In full disclosure, I'm firmly in camp “no socks." My reason for this isn't rooted in science but my personal preference for feeling bed sheets on my feet.
Still, there is a mountain of evidence that suggests I'm missing out on my best sleep ever by choosing to sleep sans socks.
Why is sleeping with socks on so controversial?
According to research cited by Apartment Therapy, the overwhelming majority of those surveyed (44%) prefer sleeping without socks while only a third (28%) absolutely love it. The remaining third (29%) is on the fence.
According to the non-sock sleepers, the most common reasons to dislike sleeping in socks include being concerned with hygiene, getting too hot in the night, the irritation of losing socks in the bed and getting sweaty feet throughout the night.
While there are clear reasons a majority of sleepers prefer to go to bed without their feet covered, most of these reasons amount to pure preferences. Despite this, the science actually suggests wearing socks to bed is very beneficial to our sleep.
Socks or No Socks: What's the truth?
While some may wonder, "Is it bad to sleep with socks on?," science suggest the answer is no. Truth be told, it's not so much about the sock; footwear is just the means to an end. However, warming up your feet before bed is the name of the game. Going to bed with warm feet is proven to aid sleep in a variety of ways:
- Warming up your feet facilitates dilation of the blood vessels in your feet, which creates more blood flow in the area and signals to your brain it is time to sleep.
- A Nature.com study found those who wear socks could fall asleep a full 15 minutes faster.
- Sleeping in socks helps better regulate body temperature, which dips throughout the night. Being able to easily navigate those dips promotes deeper, longer sleep.
- For those with Raynaud's Disease (where the extremities are exceptionally prone to cold) sleeping in socks can help decrease symptoms and ward off attacks.
- And, perhaps most surprising, women experiencing menopause may also find wearing socks to bed can limit hot flashes during the night.
Can you sleep in compression socks?
Compression socks are sometimes recommended by doctors for patients to wear during sleep after a surgery or to combat some type of medical condition. However, compression socks can limit blood flow to your feet, which is the opposite of what you want when sleeping. Even tight-fitting regular socks can decrease circulation and blood flow during sleep, so it's best to sleep with loose socks if you prefer sleeping with them at all. Overall, it's best practice to not sleep in compression socks unless your doctor tells you to.
What if I hate wearing socks in bed?
Even if you hate sleeping with socks, there are a variety of ways to warm up the feet prior to bedtime. You can put a hot water bottle in the bed, use a heating pad or take a small warm water foot bath. Extra blankets at the foot of the bed can also work wonders, so you don't have to sacrifice your love of sleeping sans socks for better sleep. You can have the best of both worlds!
If you are open to sleeping with socks on, find a loose fitting, non-cotton pair (such as wool or cashmere) for the best results, but if you just can't quite get used to the sock life (like myself) try one of the tips above to optimize your sleep.