Sleeping With Socks On: Can It Help You Sleep Better?

7 Min Read | By Liam Porter

Last Modified 29 February 2024   First Added 30 October 2020

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

The idea of sleeping with socks is a contentious one. Plenty of people love wearing socks to bed. Others are convinced it’s bad to do so. Or, at the very least, they find sleeping in socks uncomfortable. Oddly, there’s a surprising amount of science behind how wearing socks to bed affects both your health and sleep. We explore that below, digging into both the advantages and disadvantages and a little of the science behind whether you should or shouldn’t.

Can socks help you fall asleep faster?

Unfortunately, the answer really depends on you. Body temperature is an important factor in how well we sleep, as our bodies naturally cool down as we rest. However, if your body temperature falls too much, you won’t be able to drift off to sleep. Wearing socks to bed helps to maintain body temperature, as our feet are important temperature regulators.

On the other hand, many people are against wearing socks to bed. Just as it’s important not to be too cold, being too warm can prevent us from sleeping. A drop in body temperature signals to our brain that we are ready to sleep. It is the reason why you may struggle to sleep on those sweltering summer nights.

Wearing socks to bed helps to find the balance quickly. If you are too cold, you can put socks on, but if you are too warm, you can take your socks off. Both changes will give your body the signal to switch off for a night’s slumber.

Advantages of wearing socks in bed

1. Support thermoregulation

Our bodies are incredible at maintaining a safe temperature, otherwise known as thermoregulation. Part of our natural circadian rhythm is a fluctuation in our temperature, so as we prepare for sleep, our core temperature will drop. Wearing socks can help increase blood flow to your feet through vasodilation, which helps to cool down your core quicker, making you feel sleepier.

2. Prevent Raynaud’s attack

Raynaud’s syndrome is a medical condition in which your body – typically your fingers and toes – responds to cold weather and feels numb. While this condition doesn’t normally create any severe health problems, it’s still recommended to do whatever possible to prevent it. Wearing socks in bed can help. A key symptom is that affected areas turn white or patchy as blood flow is restricted.

3. Reduce hot flushes

For women going through menopause, sleep can often be difficult to achieve. Hot flushes are a response to hormonal changes, but they can also be prevented by wearing socks in bed that increase blood flow.

Find yourself layering up before bed?

Disadvantages of wearing socks to bed

1. Reduce circulation

While wearing socks in bed can improve circulation, it can also go the other way. If the socks you choose to wear are restrictive and too tight, this can cause blood flow to decrease. Either opt for bed socks or choose a size up to what you would normally wear throughout the day.

2. Poor hygiene

In some cases, wearing socks to bed can increase the risk of poor hygiene. If your socks are too tight or aren’t clean, your feet aren’t able to breathe properly, and chances of infection or odours are increased. To counteract this, ensure you change your socks before bed and choose a pair that are made from breathable materials such as cotton, merino wool, cashmere, or bamboo.

3. Overheating

While wearing the right pair of socks to bed can help you cool down faster, there are instances where it might have the opposite effect. If your socks aren’t breathable, any heat that is expelled through vasodilation will have nowhere to go and cause you to overheat. We’ll go into more detail on the best materials for socks in bed later in this article.

The best socks to wear in bed

Now we’ve looked into why wearing socks in bed can help you achieve sleep, you’ll likely want to know which are the best socks for sleep.

1. Cashmere socks

Cashmere is well known as one of the finest, naturally occurring materials. That’s because the diameter of its fibres is thinner than those in Merino wool and cotton. This results in fewer gaps for air to pass through and helps to keep your feet warm. However, despite it helping to keep you warm, the structure of cashmere fibres does allow air to pass through. This, in turn, helps you thermoregulate. Put simply, cashmere warms your feet enough for vasodilation before expelling that built-up heat.

2. Merino wool socks

Merino wool socks are also great for wearing to bed. Again, the fibres are thick enough to warm your feet while offering enough air gaps to allow them to cool when heat is built up. Merino wool also wicks moisture away and is odour-resistant, all while providing incredible comfort.

3. Cotton socks

If you’re vegan or just not a fan of wearing animal products, you’ll likely want to stay away from cashmere and merino wool. Cotton socks provide similar benefits, and by choosing those which are 100% cotton, you can be confident you’re only using plant-based products. Like merino wool, cotton is a great material for wicking away moisture, regulating temperature and providing breathability all night long.

4. Bed socks

If you’re going to buy sleep socks, you can’t do much better than those designed for the purpose. A simple Google search will send you in the right direction. They’re typically much thicker than normal socks, yet offer incredible breathability. Made from super thick fibres, there’s plenty of space for heat to dissipate once it’s built up. Make sure to buy a few pairs so you always have a clean pair.

Should you wear compression socks to bed?

You may have heard that wearing compression socks to bed can help you sleep, but there isn’t any evidence for this. The NHS recommend to take off compression socks before bed, and cardiovascular specialist Dr Douglas Joseph of the Cleveland Clinic, says there are no effects on sleep:

The benefit occurs when you’re up and moving, and gravity is working on your veins,” he says. “When you’re lying down, you take away the effect of gravity. So there’s no reason to wear compression socks when lying down or sleeping.

Compression socks or stockings are typically thought of as something that elderly people wear to help with circulation and swelling issues. There is growing evidence that anyone who stands or sits for prolonged periods – like hairdressers, waiters, or office workers – may also benefit from wearing them. There have been a few studies that show that compression socks can reduce discomfort when sitting for a long time and decrease blood pooling, but more research is needed to see how much of a benefit they are.

However, the best thing you can do is to move around more. Sitting for too long can cause a lot of health issues like metabolism dysregulation, high blood pressure, and reduced muscle mass. So try to get up every 30 minutes and stretch.

What is the best temperature for sleep?

Studies have shown that the optimal temperature for sleep is between 18-24℃, but bedroom humidity can also have an impact on this. Generally, you should feel cool but not cold, and try to opt for breathable material for your bedding to maintain good airflow.

Take a look at our tips for better sleep which include more advice for how to turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.

How to regulate the temperature of your feet without socks

If you’re totally against wearing socks in bed, there are other ways to regulate your temperature and kick off the process of vasodilation. A popular choice is to place a hot water bottle at the bottom of the bed, or a heated blanket to keep your bed toasty as you drift off.

You can also try taking a hot bath before bed, which is proven to help you get to sleep faster.

Verdict: Is it bad to sleep with socks on?

If you can ensure good hygiene – swapping your socks nightly and choosing materials that offer breathability – wearing socks in bed can help improve your ability to fall asleep. Keeping your feet warm triggers bodily functions such as vasodilation, which in turn tell your brain that it’s time to sleep. This is to do with the human circadian rhythm, which is the process that controls why we sleep at night and wake in the morning. So, is it bad to sleep with socks on? No, if you often find yourself struggling to sleep and tend to run cold, consider wearing socks to bed, and you’ll likely see an improvement.

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