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A Case For Wearing Socks To Bed, From "The Sleep Doctor"

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

(1/21/2021) A woman laying in bed relaxing with her dog
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It's an age-old debate between couples who cohabitate: One person prefers an icy temperature in the bedroom—all the more excuse to cozy up with blankets, no?—while the other simply cannot fall asleep from all the shivering. It's such a common quarrel, that a survey conducted by Vivint Solar found that out of 2,000 coupled-up Americans, 75% routinely argue over the temperature in their homes, and 64% admitted to sneakily changing the temperature in their favor instead of their partner's. The treachery! 

If the thermostat is a point of contention in your relationship, clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., also known as The Sleep Doctor, shares a clever solution on the mindbodygreen podcast to put the argument to bed: a modest pair of socks. 

How do socks help?

"We ask [one person] to wear socks. And we asked the [other] to not wear socks and put [their] feet out from under the covers," says Breus. "And that actually allows for this interesting temperature regulation to cohabitate two humans in the same form." 

That's because your extremities (i.e., hands and feet) can affect your core body temperature overall, especially during sleep: According to the National Sleep Foundation, your foot temperature naturally increases prior to sleep, so warming your feet—with a fuzzy pair of socks, perhaps—can send signals to your brain that it's bedtime. One study even found that warming the feet was associated with longer total sleep time and fewer awakenings during a seven-hour rest.

If you find yourself on the other side of the argument, Breus recommends nixing the socks, instead slipping your feet out from under the covers. Let us remind you that your body's core temperature naturally drops at night, as part of the circadian rhythm, so feeling too warm before bed isn't ideal either. (Here's the best temperature for sleep, in case you're curious.) Again, your feet can help regulate your overall body temperature, so exposing them to the air can help your body lose heat and drop to its preferred degree. 

In other words, the tip works both ways: If you're feeling chilly at bedtime, pulling on a pair of socks can send sleepytime signals to your brain and keep you cozy; if you're too warm, exposing your feet to cooler air can help your body temperature dial down. 

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The takeaway. 

If you're fighting with your partner about the bedroom thermostat, try Breus' go-to recommendation: Whoever feels cold should slip on some socks, and whoever feels flushed should try poking their feet out of the covers. And voilà—"The Sleep Doctor" becomes the couple's therapist. 

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