We write so frequently about how cool rooms help you sleep better. But we’re also told that having warm feet gives you a better night’s rest. So why would a cold room and warm feet be a good combination?
While it seems counterintuitive, having warm feet actually helps your core body temperature drop faster. That helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Dr. Biquan Luo explained, “Warming the feet can have a positive impact on sleep for many people, primarily because of its effect in promoting lower core body temperature and relaxation. As we sleep, our core temperature naturally drops as part of our circadian rhythm. This decline starts at the beginning of sleep and reaches its lowest point during the early morning hours. Decrease of the core body temperature helps the body fall and stay asleep.”
Warming your feet dilates blood vessels and gets more blood to flow to the feet, removing heat from your body’s core. It can also be soothing and relaxing if you take a warm bath or wear fuzzy socks. That relaxation can help you nod off. It’s essential to pay attention to your feet. People with blood sugar concerns can have less sensation in their feet. Heating pads, foot baths and other direct heat sources can cause burns that people with numbness might not notice. So, cozy socks are your best option if you have lower sensitivity in your feet.
In a small study, people who wore socks to bed fell asleep 7.5 minutes sooner, slept 32 minutes longer, woke up 7.5 times less and slept 7.6 percent more efficiently. The researchers had all the participants sleeping in cool rooms; the only variable was the socks. But, when the researchers monitored their core body temperatures, they found socks didn’t make a measurable difference. It might be that a commonsense answer is best: a cool room helps lower your core body temperature, but having cold toes makes it hard to sleep.
A different study found that warming feet for 20 minutes before bed could lower insomnia. However, in that study, only younger people saw improvements in their sleep. Older adults didn’t see any changes in their ability to sleep.
Whether cold toes keep people awake or warm feet help core body temperature fall faster, warming your feet and wearing socks to bed can help you get a great night’s sleep. As the nights get colder, pull on some fuzzy socks and get some shut-eye!