Dr. Amy Wolkin is a physical therapist based in Atlanta, GA. After graduating from Wellesley College in 2012, she pursued dual graduate degrees at Emory University. She graduated in 2017 with her Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees. Her clinical interests are outpatient orthopedics, women’s health, and pediatric sports medicine. She has advanced training in dry needling and pelvic floor physical therapy.

Many people have strong opinions about sleeping with socks on. While some would never want to consider wearing socks to bed, others would assert that wearing socks keeps you cozy and helps you sleep. What is the truth: do socks help you sleep? Once you know this answer, it’s worth considering whether your personal choice to sleep barefoot would be worth a slightly longer time to fall asleep. Here are some ways to make the choice for yourself.

Why is sleeping with socks on good for you?

Sleeping with socks on versus barefoot isn’t just a matter of personal preference; covering your feet helps your body keep your temperature consistent since you lose more heat through your feet, even under your blankets. Here are some reasons why sleeping with socks on is good for your body and your sleep.

Comfort as you fall asleep

Multiple studies point out that sleep onset, or falling asleep, happens faster when you are wearing socks to bed. The comfort factor may be part of it, but another part is simply related to sleep temperature. Our bodies have a comfortable temperature range, and when all parts of our skin and body are at those ideal temperatures, we can fall asleep easier. The study in question notes that this factor may matter more if you struggle with insomnia or as you age, so that those factors may make sleeping with socks even better for you.

Less likely to wake up due to cold in your extremities

A scientific study in South Korea notes that those studied woke up 7.5 times less during the night if they wore socks to sleep in the winter. This seems to indicate that cold feet in the winter can contribute to waking up in the middle of the night, an unpleasant reality of anything that interrupts sleep. By choosing to wear socks, you have a better chance of sleeping for longer stretches, which can contribute to a feeling of being refreshed and rested in the morning.

Protect the moisture

Anecdotally, people who have cracked or dry skin on their feet, especially their heels or the soles of their feet, find that moisturizing with lotion before bed is more effective if you put socks on and sleep in them. This stands to reason since lotion can rub off on the sheets and no longer do its moisturizing work, while using socks keeps the moisturizer close to the skin all night long, allowing it to take full effect. 

Why Don’t People Like Wearing Socks? 

The main drawback of sleeping with socks on is a personal preference one when people mention that they feel less restricted and more comfortable with bare feet. Given the evidence that socks may help you sleep, though, anyone struggling to fall asleep barefooted might need to try a different kind of sock, such as wicking socks. Extremely thick socks and those that aren’t breathable can have the opposite effect, overheating your feet and disrupting your sleep that way. 

Tips: Sleeping With Socks On 

  • Consider picking some designated socks for sleeping and not wearing them during the daytime. Socks with accumulated dust or other floor particulates could be more irritating than a clean pair of dedicated sleep socks.
  • Let your feet air out before bed, between daytime socks and nighttime socks. This is particularly helpful if you take an evening shower or bath since you don’t want your feet to be moist when you put your sleeping socks on.
  • If you have naturally cold feet, a nice relaxing ritual before changing into your sleep socks might be taking a footbath, which naturally warms your feet before bedtime.
  • Choose great socks when you go to sleep! Make sure that the socks you choose are not itchy or too tight. Overly loose socks, as well as socks made of a thick, non-breathable material may also irritate you in your sleep.
  • Instead, choose a pair of socks that fits well, is made of a breathable fiber, and ideally, a moisture-wicking weave. Some people prefer a microfiber, while others prefer a natural wool or cotton sock.   

Alternatives to Wearing Socks 

For those who have tried wearing socks to bed and find that it just isn’t for them, you can still keep your feet warm without the constriction you dislike about socks. The goal is to make sure that your feet, which naturally lose heat more than your core during sleep, have a little extra warmth and insulation. 

  • Use a heating pad or a hot water bottle at the foot of your bed in the winter. 
  • Add a blanket layer at the foot of your bed, perhaps between the top blanket and your sheet.
  • Flannel or other soft sheets can insulate the warmth in your legs and feet.
  • Some people simply don’t have trouble with their extremities being cold – if you notice that your feet aren’t cold at bedtime or in the middle of the night, you might be one of the people who can easily fall asleep without wearing socks to bed.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping with socks on seems to benefit quite a lot of people, both in terms of comfort and in terms of their body’s temperature when going to sleep. Finding out the answer to “do socks help you sleep” may require some trial and error: try a few different kinds of socks before you decide to switch to barefoot sleeping, since wearing socks to bed may surprise you once you find the right breathable pair for your comfort. By making these modifications, you can determine whether you’ll improve your sleep by sleeping with socks on.