Placing a hot water bottle at the end of the bed. Having dogs sleep at your feet. Wearing socks. Are you seeing a pattern?
For a long time, humans have gravitated towards warming their feet around bedtime. According to science, it turns out they had the right idea.
To understand why sleeping with socks on is good for you, you first have to understand how thermoregulation works. Humans are endotherms, which means we regulate our own body temperature, unlike reptiles, which need the sun’s heat and light to warm up. Our brain works throughout the day to ensure our core temperature stays around 98.6 degrees, despite external influences like your environment or exercise regime.
However, your body doesn’t stay at a strict 98.6 degrees. It varies during the day. It drops at night, reaching its lowest point while you sleep, before starting its rise in the early morning before you wake up. This is why the ideal temperature for sleep is in the cool mid-60s degrees Fahrenheit – it facilitates that natural drop in temperature your brain associates with sleep.
Maintaining your body temperature during sleep ensures a smooth night of rest. Just like Goldilocks, if you get too hot, or too cold, you’re likelier to wake up.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Now, back to socks. It’s not the socks themselves that bring the benefit; it’s the effect they have on your body. Warming your feet before bed facilitates vasodilation, which is the dilation of your blood vessels in your extremities. When vasodilation occurs in your hands and feet, it opens them up so they can redistribute heat throughout your body, regulating your body temperature and preparing you for sleep. Sleeping with socks on helps this process happen.
In fact, researchers have found that vasodilation in the feet, thanks to socks, shortens the time it takes to fall asleep by a full 15 minutes.
Besides helping you fall asleep faster, sleeping with socks on provides various health benefits, including:
Are there any drawbacks to sleeping with socks on? Besides the squick factor some experience, the only real issue with sleeping with socks on is wearing the wrong socks. Here are a few to avoid.
If you want to sleep with socks like a pro, follow these best practices.
What if the idea of wearing socks to bed makes you cringe? Whatever your reasons, some people are simply unable to get on board with wearing socks to bed. That’s okay, as there are alternatives that can offer you the same benefits as your sock-sleeping peers.