Under what conditions can wearing socks to bed prove to be detrimental to your health?

The northern part of the country is currently reeling under an intense cold wave with temperatures plummeting each day. As such, it is necessary to wear adequate warm clothing, including warmers, jackets, and socks to save oneself from the chill. However, to keep themselves warm and comfortable at night, many people end up wearing their socks to bed. But, is it a healthy practice? We reached out to experts who explained the good and the bad of wearing socks to bed. They explained that wearing socks while sleeping is perfectly normal and can help one sleep better because colder feet constrict the blood vessels and significantly lower circulation. “However, this does not mean that not wearing socks is bad, so, either way, is fine depending on how you feel,” said Dr RR Dutta, HOD Internal Medicine, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

Agreeing, Dr Aditya S Chowti, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bangalore said, “It’s a good thing to wear socks at night during winter to keep your feet warm and protected. Women may find it helpful for cooling their core temperature. It also improves cracked heels and is known to increase circulation.”

What are the benefits?

There are several health benefits of sleeping with your socks on. Here are some of them:

*The main advantage of wearing socks before going to bed is that it keeps your body warm, especially in winter.
*It also keeps your feet from drying out or having dry skin.
*Wearing socks in bed increases blood flow to the feet and heat loss through the skin, which helps lower core body temperature. As a result, a person can fall asleep faster.
*Wearing socks to bed improves blood flow to your feet.
*It improves cracked heels.
*Studies have observed that foot warming using bed socks during sleep in a cool environment was found to have positive effects on sleep quality.
*It is associated with shortened sleep onset, lengthened sleep time, and lessened awakenings during sleep.

Adverse effects

Sleeping with your socks on, however, is not always beneficial and can prove to be detrimental to your health under certain conditions. “Wearing very tight socks can impair blood circulation and can be detrimental. Additionally, not ensuring proper hygiene of socks can result in adverse consequences,” said Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, Consultant, Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.

Give your feet a warm bath before going to sleep (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Agreeing, Dr Chowti said that foot hygiene can be compromised if socks are not cleaned regularly or if the socks are tight. “There may be an increased risk of skin infection, especially if the socks used are made of synthetic material like nylon. Body temperature can rise due to excessive use of socks,” he said.

To prevent such feet infection, experts suggested picking socks made of natural and soft fibre. “Soft fiber socks, such as merino wool or cashmere, are ideal. Cotton socks offer similar benefits but make sure they are 100 per cent cotton. Make certain that the socks you choose are intended for that purpose,” Dr Dutta said.

Who should avoid it?

Despite its many benefits, doctors insisted on certain people avoiding the practice of wearing socks to bed. “People with abrasions or open wounds in the legs or those with problems with blood circulation like arterial or venous disorders of the lower limb are not advised to wear,” Dr Balasubramanian said.

Additionally, Dr Dutta said that people who live in hot climates should avoid wearing socks, in addition to those with fungal infections on their feet as their skin requires air and light.

Other ways to keep your feet warm

If socks make you uncomfortable while sleeping or are not good for you, follow these measures to keep your feet warm, as suggested by Dr Dutta.

*Add warm water to them. The air loses heat 25 times slower than water. Giving them body heat or bathing them with warm water helps. You can also rub them with your hands.
*Remain hydrated. This facilitates a greater flow of blood to your digits.
*Avoid smoking because nicotine tightens blood arteries, and less blood gets to your extremities.
*Don’t sit or stand in the same posture for too long; try to massage your feet frequently. Get them moving.
*Put on suitable boots. For the climate and working environment, you need boots with the appropriate rating.
*On chilly days, you can cover your ski boots with a neoprene lining.
*Eat extra protein and fat. You get an extra boost from it. On the other hand, those who consume a lot of meat and fat are always at war.

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