Could bed socks be the answer to a good night's sleep? According to Swiss researchers, you’re more likely to fall asleep quickly if your hands and feet are warmer than the temperature of your bedroom.
Dr Kurt Krauchi and his team at the Sleep Laboratory in Basel monitored the body temperature and functions of a group of young, healthy men as they nodded off. In every case, they fell asleep immediately after a shift in blood flow to their hands and feet.
The study, published in the journal Nature, seems to indicate that as we approach the threshold of sleep, our body's temperature regulation system moves heat from its core to our extremities i.e. our hands and feet.
The phenomenon is closely related to the release of hormones such as melatonin, which regulate sleepiness and wakefulness. The researchers say that bed socks or a hot water bottle at the feet may not directly cause sleep, but it can trigger widening of the blood vessels, which in turn switches the body's sleep mechanism on.
If your extremities are cold, it inhibits the free flow of blood and your sleep hormones fail to kick in which can cause insomnia. The scientists speculate that some sleep disorders associated with old age and illness may be caused by poor circulation and an inability to widen blood vessels in the hands and feet.