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Warm Socks May Be Sleep Aid

September 1, 1999

Wearing socks to bed may not excite your partner, but it just might help you fall asleep.

A researcher says people with chronically cold feet might drift off faster if they warm their feet with socks or a hot water bottle.

That’s because the body appears to prepare for sleep by widening the blood vessels in the hands and feet to help radiate body heat away, according to a study.

Warming the feet and then removing the socks or water bottle would promote this dilation, said the researcher, Anna Wirz-Justice of the Psychiatric University Clinic in Basel, Switzerland. Most people go through the process naturally and wouldn’t need socks or a water bottle to help them sleep, she said Wednesday.

She and colleagues didn’t directly test whether socks or water bottles promote sleep. But they did analyze data from 18 healthy young men who participated in sleep studies. The results suggest that blood vessel dilation in the hands and feet in late evening, and resulting heat loss, are key to falling asleep.

The analysis appears in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

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