Wearing compression socks and sleeves at night

<p>Compression socks are more and more popular among athletes, nurses and travellers. Sleeves and socks can help enhance athletic performance as well as prevent conditions such as edema, swelling and varicose veins. Can these positive effects be enhanced by wearing compression socks at night?</p>

Why Wear compression socks at Night?

Runners enjoy wearing running compression socks during workouts as well as immediately after their runs. However many runners wonder if they can wear their compression socks at night too. After all one would expect that wearing compression socks longer would speed up the recovery process. Is that so? And would wearing compression socks at night have any side effects?

I used to wear compression socks sometimes after very difficult workouts, or when I was training too much and I needed to recover fast to hit my weekly mileage goals. In this article I am going to argue why I don’t do it anymore,  and why wearing compression socks at night is not a good idea.

After all there is a limit to how long somebody should wear compression socks, and all night long seems too long.

What are compression socks and Sleeves Good for?

Compression garments all have their positive effects by helping blood circulation. In the legs the veins constantly have to fight against the force of gravity. With time the valves of the veins tire and the walls of the veins get loose. The diameter of the veins gets bigger, the blood flows slower or even pools up en severe cases. This might lead to varicose veins.

By putting pressure on the skin, the veins get pressured too. They are squeezed, their diameter gets shorter. Thus the blood flows quicker from the legs to the heart.

Compression socks in action at night

How does this help recovery?

 During workouts the muscles produce waste materials, such as lactic acid. This chemical is responsible for the muscle soreness athletes feel a day or even two days after workouts. The compression socks speed up blood flow from the limbs, thus help the blood flush the lactic acid and other waste materials from the muscles. This process is the reason why runners, cyclists and basketball players wear compression socks after workouts to recover.

Compression socks also put pressure on the muscles. This reduces the vibration of the muscles, which in turn reduces the risk of injury.

Edema is swelling of the limbs caused by the excess fluid’s inability to leave the limb through the circulatory system. Compression socks put pressure on the limbs and thus the excess fluid can leave the legs.

When Should you wear compression socks?

There is no golden rule about when to wear compression socks and when not to? Every person and every situation is different. People wearing them for medical reason should seek their doctor’s advice about when to wear compression socks. Sportsmen should wear them during workouts and after for a few hours to aid recovery.

People suffering of severe cases of varicose veins, shin splints or plantar fasciitis should wear these products for longer. In extreme cases they should be worn all day. This means putting them on first thing in the morning, and taking them off just before going to sleep.

Compression socks in bed

Pilots and flight attendants wear compression socks to avoid deep vein thrombosis. This condition happens as a result of a blood cloth getting stuck in a vein. During long flights the legs might get swollen as a result of the pressure conditions in the cabin. If you wear compression socks on a flight, you should wear them the whole time. If I am flying, I usually put on my socks right before chocking in, and I take them off in the taxi when I leave the airport.

However to get explicit advice, it is always best to ask your doctor. If your doctor can’t tell you exactly how long to wear compression socks, it might be a good idea to experiment a little bit. Try wearing them for different durations, and see what produces the best results. If you want to read about a few guidelines you can use, here is an article about exactly how long you should wear compression socks.

Should you wear compression socks at night?

In brief, no. Wearing compression socks at night does not improve circulation massively. The only reason to wear compression socks is to help the veins circulate the blood better. When you are lying in your bed the veins don’t need to fight gravity, so there is no need to wear compression socks to aid blood circulation.

If your compression socks are too tight, wearing them at night might have a negative effect. They might restrict blood flow. Since there is no considerable advantage to wearing compression socks during sleep, you might as well simply remove them. If your doctor recommends you wear them in bed, that is a different story. You should take compression socks off for a few hours to allow your legs to relax, so why not do it at night?

Conclusion

In this article, I made the case of why it is not necessary to wear compression socks at night. Although there are no risks involved in doing so, but no benefits either. If you want to sleep comfortably, you don’t want to feel the squeeze of compression socks on your legs. The best decision is to not wear compression socks at night.

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