I’ve heard plenty of myths in the wellness world that are seemingly bizarre but that we follow as gospel: Going out into the cold gives you a cold, sitting too close to a TV can hurt your eyes, and eating a shit-ton of carrots gives you great vision. But I was introduced to another such myth, which I find particularly odd: Wearing wet socks to bed can help you prevent a cold. Let’s just say…I have some thoughts.
First of all, as a hot-blooded person, I can’t even imagine wearing dry socks to bed—my feet would feel suffocated and make my whole body overheat. So, the thought of wearing something to not only cover my feet, but to cover my feet while soaking them in water, is a pass from me. But, some people say that it’s a thing, and I’m here to hear them out.
“Wet socks are actually an old European hydrotherapy spa trick,” says Alan Christianson, MD, a naturopathic physician and author, who adds that the purported benefit is that these help with circulation (though, it’s important to note that there’s no scientific evidence, per se, to support this). “Improving your circulation leads to better muscular energy, less pain, and less symptoms of fatigue.”
I guess when you think about it, having wet socks on your feet will certainly stimulate something—if only a strange feeling (because who wants damp socks?!). Dr. Christianson says you should try the trick if you need better sleep or are exhausted and about to catch a cold.
You don’t just put on a sopping-wet pair of socks though. “You’ll need two pairs of socks,” says Dr. Christianson. “You’ll need one pair of thin, cotton ankle socks and one that’s long and heavy and ideally made out of wool. Right before you go to bed, rinse the cotton socks damp with room temperature water and wring them out all the way.” Pro tip: If you get cold really easily, he says you can just dampen the area nearest to your toes.
Next, you pull the damp cotton pair onto your feet and then the wool ones on top of them. “The whole idea is that blood supply rushes to an area where water is against your skin,” Dr. Christianson explains, adding that the point of the wool socks is to hold in warmth despite the damp cotton socks—so you shouldn’t feel a chill. “While you’re sleeping, the socks will get dry as your feet—and then the rest of your muscles—get increased blood flow.” According to him, the first time trying the hack, you might experience better, deeper sleep. I mean, if you want to give it a go, then by all means—but you know, loading up on vitamin C and resting (without any socks at all) works too. To each their own.
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