Cleveland Clinic: Behavioral sleep disorders specialist Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM, breaks down the reasons why slipping into a pair of socks before bed may help people get better quality shuteye.
But there’s a deeper, physiological reason for wearing socks to bed that goes beyond toastier tootsies, says Dr. Drerup. It’s a process called distal vasodilation. Here’s how it works.
Your body naturally works to lower your core temperature at night to help you sleep. This happens as part of your circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock that manages your sleep-wake cycle. (That’s also why a cooler room temperature is better for sleep.)
But if your feet are too cold, your core temperature may actually click up a notch or two, says Dr. Drerup. That’s because your body is sending more blood flow — and the heat that comes with it — to your core areas.
So, what does adding in a fluffy pair of socks do? Those cuddly duds warm your feet, relaxing and widening blood vessels that constricted while cold.
This improved blood circulation in your overall body helps release more heat through your skin.
“By making your feet warmer, you’re opening up blood vessels to help cool down the rest of the body,” notes Dr. Drerup. “So increasing the blood circulation to your feet results in a lower core temperature. It seems counterintuitive, but that’s what happens.”