You may have heard that wearing compression socks, also called support socks, can help relieve symptoms associated with varicose veins, diabetes, postpartum edema, deep vein thrombosis, and more. In addition, wearing support socks during the day may also help you sleep better at night.
Benefits of Compression Socks
Designed to improve circulation and reduce swelling, compression socks may help provide relief from aches and pains that commonly keep people awake. There are many who struggle with swelling and pain in their feet and legs during the day because of poor circulation that causes fluids to collect in the lower extremities. Support socks help by providing continuous pressure to the legs, preventing fluid retention, and forcing blood to flow back to the heart.
In addition, people with diabetes, those who are overweight, pregnant individuals and others may benefit from using compression socks during the day when sitting or standing.
Wearing support socks also may ease symptoms related to two sleep disorders: restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Reducing Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome
For those who struggle with restless legs syndrome (RLS), an overwhelming need to move their legs while resting can make it impossible to sleep, leading to anxiety and even desperation. The relentless urges to move the legs are often a result of intense tingling, itching, and/or pulling sensations.
While there are a range of natural and pharmaceutical treatments for addressing RLS, wearing compression socks during the day is often recommended to provide some relief. The pressure from the socks can create a sense of stability in the feet and legs during the day, counteracting stimulating sensations to move them at night.
Reducing Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
A study published in the March 15, 2011 issue of Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology by Science Direct suggests that compression socks reduce sleep apnea symptoms by eliminating some of the body's excess fluid, as the socks gently squeeze the veins, preventing blood from pooling in the legs. Without compression, excess fluid collects and can shift to your neck, causing obstructive sleep apnea to become worse.
In the research study, participants who were randomly chosen to wear compression socks during the day experienced an average fluid reduction of 62% compared to those who didn’t wear the support socks. The result was a 36% reduction of sleep apnea events during the night.
In essence, compression is a low-tech tool that can be used to help manage sleep apnea symptoms; though, it is not meant to replace effective CPAP therapy and other treatment your doctor advises.
Always consult a healthcare provider before wearing compression socks and inquire whether wearing them throughout the day will help you.
Also, wearing support socks is not recommended during sleep or at times when the body is horizontal, with your legs on the same level as your heart, unless you are specifically directed to do so by your doctor.
There are a myriad of conditions that can be helped by wearing compression socks, and multiple compression levels available. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe them for you.
Regardless of the type of compression socks you have, it’s important to follow doctor instructions, which typically include putting them on first thing in the morning, before you are up and moving around. If you wait too long, your feet and legs are more likely to swell, making it more difficult to put them on.
In addition to reduced symptoms and a better night’s sleep, people often report their legs feeling refreshed and less heavy during the day.
This article was written by Alex Deckard of Aeroflow Healthcare., a provider of durable medical equipment.
More on Restless Legs Syndrome
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
What is Sleep Apnea
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