Pregnant women undergo a huge range of symptoms throughout the time they’re expecting their baby. To avoid swollen legs and feet to aches and pains, not to mention the risk of blood clots or varicose veins, lower limb care and blood flow are two important areas to pay attention to when you’re pregnant.
Compression socks help relieve a lot of symptoms during pregnancy, but how long should you wear them for and are they safe to sleep in? Yes, sleeping in compression socks is safe, but may not be absolutely necessary.
Read on to find out all you need to know about wearing compression socks at night when you’re pregnant, as well as our best tips for extra comfort during this time.
Can You Wear Compression Socks to Bed During Pregnancy?
When you wear compression garments, the gentle squeeze they apply to a part of your body stimulates blood flow and supports the muscles and joints in that area. Compression socks and stockings help reduce swelling, while boosting circulation from the lower legs back up to the heart. This reduces the risk of developing medical conditions like varicose veins and blood clots.
However, the main reason that blood flow from the lower limbs to the heart is impaired is gravity. Basically, when you spend a lot of time on your feet, or when you’re sitting at your desk for long periods of time at work, that’s when you’re most likely to have poor peripheral circulation. When you’re lying down, this becomes less of a problem. You can definitely still wear your socks, however.
Compression socks are not dangerous for all-day wear. As long as they are the correct size and fit well, without bunching or cutting off your circulation, you can wear them as long as you’re comfortable. Whether you sleep in compression socks is a matter of personal preference.
Is It Safe to Sleep in Compression Socks When Pregnant?
Compression socks are very safe to wear for extended periods of time. Moderate compression levels (15-20 mmHg) can be worn all day long, during long flights, when spending a long time without moving (such as being bed-ridden) or when you’re on your feet all day.
Because they stimulate blood flow in the lower extremities, compression socks are popular with pregnant women who struggle with restless legs, cramps, or swollen feet. If in doubt about how long you can wear your compression socks, consult with your doctor first.
Do Compression Socks Help Improve Sleep Quality During Pregnancy?
By addressing and/or reducing the symptoms of certain painful or uncomfortable conditions like pins and needles, swelling, pain, or restless leg syndrome, compression socks contribute to improving the quality of your sleep when you’re pregnant.
The gentle pressure applied by compression socks to the lower legs keeps blood volume moving steadily throughout the body, supporting your overall health and reducing the risk of swollen legs and feet. Moreover, the massaging action you feel from compression socks can be very soothing and comfortable, contributing to helping you get to sleep.
Can Wearing Compression Socks at Night During Pregnancy Minimize Common Pregnancy Symptoms?
Some pregnancy symptoms linked to poor blood circulation or fluid drainage can be addressed effectively by wearing compression socks, at night or during the day. Here are the main ways in which they help.
If blood isn’t flowing freely through the lower limbs, you can develop pain and cramping. When you move very little (for example, lying in bed or on the couch relaxing), this can get worse. Cramps are also often caused by mineral depletion and dehydration, something that can occur during pregnancy.
Compression socks massage the legs, relieving pain in the muscles. They also stimulate blood flow in the extremities, which ensures that oxygen and nutrients are transported to the muscles effectively (this has been linked with shorter recovery times after exercise, since the muscles are replenished quicker).
It is also recommended that pregnant women stretch gently and continue to stay moderately active. This helps reduce the risk of cramping. A gentle stretch before bed will also improve sleep quality.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is often encountered during pregnancy. For some people, this will be the first time experiencing it, while others will find that existing RLS symptoms worsen with hormonal changes.
Thanks to graduated compression which squeezes the legs tighter towards the ankle, lowering the pressure towards the knee, compression socks direct blood flow up towards the heart, relieving swelling and discomfort. They also massage and soothe restless legs, providing a welcome relief during pregnancy.
Feet and legs swell for a multitude of reasons. During pregnancy, impaired blood flow, water retention, or poor lymphatic drainage can all lead to swollen ankles and painful lower limbs. This makes it especially uncomfortable when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Wearing compression socks for a few hours before bed can reduce swelling significantly. Their massaging action, coupled with increased blood flow, helps bring down not just the fluid build-up, but also any inflammation or pain accumulated during the day. You can then continue to wear your socks as you go to sleep, benefiting from the continued massage and lighter feeling in the legs and feet.
Because of the additional volume of blood and fluid your body accommodates during pregnancy, this is a period with enhanced risk of developing varicose veins. Supporting good blood flow and taking the pressure off the veins, compression socks reduce this risk.
Varicose veins are not just an esthetic problem. These twisted, enlarged veins can also become painful and can even lead to more serious health problems (like deep vein thrombosis). Pregnant women are therefore advised to wear compression socks and avoid sitting or standing without changing position for a long time. You should also be careful with your diet - eating items low in salt and high in fiber.
Tips for Comfortable Sleep During Pregnancy
Sleep deprivation can make the whole pregnancy feel more uncomfortable. Poor sleep is often caused by hormonal changes and stress levels, but also by particular changes in your body, such as swelling in the feet and legs.
Here are some ways to get better sleep during your pregnancy:
Food and Drink
What you eat and drink can have a significant impact on your sleep quality. Avoid carbonated drinks, citrus, tomatoes, or spicy foods, which can all trigger acid reflux. It’s also a good idea to have your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before bedtime.
To avoid swelling, reduce your salt intake during this period. Cut out caffeine so you can let sleepiness set in naturally. And make sure you eat several small meals a day, rather than three large ones, to help your digestive system feel under less pressure.
Good habits, or sleep hygiene, can drastically improve the quality of your sleep when you’re pregnant, but also outside of this period:
- Try to have a set bedtime and wake-up time - the same each day, regardless of whether you’re going to work or not;
- Don’t watch TV or use screens before bed (or in bed!);
- Keep your bedroom a little cooler than other rooms;
- Avoid exercising just before bedtime - give your body at least 3 hours to wind down.
Wearing compression socks will take stress off your ankles and lower legs, but you can go further by adding a few comfort boosting elements to your sleep routine:
- Place a pillow between your legs when sleeping on the side, or under your belly, if this feels comfortable;
- Relieve pressure on the small of your back by putting a small rolled up blanket underneath it;
- Try to sleep on your left side as much as possible - this protects your liver and helps increase blood flow to the heart, fetus, uterus, and kidneys.
In addition to these tips, staying moderately active and getting fresh air daily will help ensure you are calm and balanced and can get some good sleep throughout your pregnancy. Coupled with wearing the best compression socks for you, as long as you feel comfortable doing so, you should be able to avoid swelling, discomfort, and any potential medical problems associated with blood circulation and the lower extremities.