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A doctor has shared a simple, yet somewhat surprising, hack to help people drift off to sleep more quickly.
Many of us have been struggling to drop off amid the pandemic, in fact a quarter of Brits have been finding it much harder to sleep recently, according to research by wearable tech brand Zepp in partnership with World Sleep Society.
But one health professional has a simple solution to the "can't sleep" woes: wearing socks to bed.
In a short video shared to TikTok, Dr Jess Andrade explains that slipping on some socks pre-bedtime can help the brain understand you want to sleep.
"So let’s talk about people that wear socks to bed," her video begins.
"Wearing socks makes the feet warm and this opens up the blood vessels that cool the body down. The body being cool tells the brain that it’s time for bed so actually people that wear socks tend to fall asleep faster."
Dr Andrade went on to explain that she wears socks at night and cited research from 2006, which backed up her sock-wearing suggestion.
The study found that "in adults, sleep-onset was accelerated by warm and neutral bed socks after lights-off and correlated to the increase in foot temperature".
Since sharing her sleep hack, Dr Andrade's video has been viewed more than 11 million times, with some praising the tip and others not so keen on the idea of wearing socks to bed.
Watch: Could fairy lights help cure your insomnia?
Does wearing socks to bed help you sleep?
"It may seem crazy that putting your socks on to go to bed should be part of your nightly routine, but there is a method behind the madness," explains Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy.
"As we drop off to sleep, our core body temperature drops by 1-2 degrees. By wearing socks, this warms up your feet, encouraging the blood supply to this region and away from your core.
"Hence warming your feet may help you drop off to sleep faster."
Dr Verena Senn, neurobiologist and sleep expert for Emma mattresses, agrees that in order to fall into a deep and intense sleep your core body temperature needs to decrease.
"While wearing socks in bed may feel odd to many, the extra layer around your feet can actually help you get to sleep by reducing your overall body temperature," she explains.
"Socks warm your toes up, helping to increase blood flow to the feet which in turn causes dilation of the blood vessels and may signal the brain that it is bedtime.
"After the blood vessels open in your feet, heat is redistributed throughout the body to help you drift off to sleep."
In addition to helping your blood vessels dilate, Dr Senn says socks can help avoid any discomfort caused by colder nights, minimising any disruptions as you doze off.
Sleep specialists also believe that wearing socks in bed may have specific benefits for those who suffer from the circulatory disorder Raynaud's disease.
"It may also benefit women with menopausal symptoms such as night sweats, as wearing socks in bed cause vasodilation in the feet, and helps them to cool down more quickly," Dr Lee adds.
It is important to realise, however, that not just any old socks will do.
"Your socks must be made of a breathable fabric such as cotton, bamboo or merino wool," Dr Lee explains.
"This allows the heat to dissipate naturally, otherwise wearing socks can cause you to overheat and have the opposite effect."
Becoming a sock-wearer in bed isn't the only sleep tip that could help you drift off faster, Dr Senn says what you eat could also have an impact on how quickly you reach the land of nod.
“It may sound odd at first, but there are foods which can actually lull you into a deeper, more restful sleep: among these are eggs, kiwis and nuts," she explains.
"That’s because these protein-rich foods contain a small amount of an amazing amino acid known as tryptophan.
“Tryptophan is a precursor of other important molecules in your body, including melatonin – the sleep-inducing hormone. By helping your body to produce more melatonin, tryptophan can help you better regulate your circadian rhythm (our internal clock), helping you in dozing off into a well-needed rest.
“If that wasn’t enough, foods rich in tryptophan can also help your body regulate its core temperature; an important factor considering our temperature needs to drop roughly 1-2°C to enjoy a good night’s sleep."
Dr Senn adds that a few kiwis or a handful of peanuts in the evening will help your body produce melatonin.
"But make sure you don’t eat too close to bedtime as the later you eat, the harder it is on your body to digest,” she adds.
Shop socks to help you sleep
3 Pair Gentle Bamboo Ladies Socks | £7.99 from Sock Shop
Mens and Ladies 2 Pair Lazy Panda Bamboo Cushioned Slipper Socks | £6.99 from Sock Shop
Organic Cotton Rich Turn Over Cuff Stripe Ankle Socks | £9 from John Lewis & Partners
Merino Wool Dress Socks for Men & Women | £18.95 from Amazon
Watch: Two thirds are struggling to get to sleep.
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