The benefits of graduated compression are strongest when you're standing or sitting in an upright position. When you recline, your blood does not need to travel against the force of gravity from the feet to the heart.
For this reason, most doctors agree that it's not necessary to wear graduated compression socks while you sleep. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though:
- In some cases, doctors prescribe special compression garments, such as ulcer kits and anti-embolism stockings, specifically for overnight use.
- Many health care providers agree that it's safe to wear compression socks while lounging or napping.
- Compression socks offer important health benefits when you travel on long-haul flights.
Before you apply compression overnight, be sure to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
When you fall asleep, it's possible for your socks to become bunched or twisted. If this happens, the compression can cut off the blood circulation to your legs and feet. Obviously, this can be very dangerous.
Wearing your compression socks throughout the day, especially during times when you're standing, sitting, or exercising, will normally provide you with ample medical benefits. Other than the use cases mentioned above, there's really no need to wear compression socks overnight.
Following Doctor's Orders
Always follow the medical advice of your physician or surgeon. For patients who require a period of bed rest after surgery, doctors often prescribe the use of TED Hose or anti-embolism stockings.
Similar to graduated compression socks, TED Hose uses compression therapy to protect you from deep vein blood clots. They're specifically designed for overnight use or use in bed. Once a patient has recovered enough to move around, they typically transition to the use of graduated compression socks or stockings, like the ones we sell.
Similarly, doctors sometimes prescribe special ulcer kits, consisting of compression bandaging and compression stockings, to heal active venous ulcers. Although the exact treatment protocol can vary, in many cases, treatment for venous ulcers involves overnight compression. In a review of the scientific literature, researchers Lim et al. point out that graduated compression socks and stockings may be just as effective as bandaging, with a shorter average time to ulcer healing and less pain.
So, if your doctor prescribes compression therapy for venous ulcers, the treatment may involve the use of graduated compression stockings or socks, including overnight use.
Lounging and Napping
As long as you're not feeling too sleepy, lounging in compression socks is perfectly safe. Assuming that you remain conscious, you will be able to notice any bunching or twisting in the fabric of the sock. And, according to Cleveland Clinic, it's also safe to wear compression socks for the duration of a short nap. Just be sure to set an alarm! For more safety advice, you can read our article about the right way to wear compression socks. As an example of best practices, compression socks should always fit smoothly against your skin, and you should wear the correct size. For people with venous ulcers or other abrasions, it's particularly important to wear clean socks.
Compression socks are safe to wear throughout the day, during all sorts of activities. The optimal amount of time to wear them depends on your reason for trying compression socks in the first place. For recovery, you might want to wear your socks during and in the hours after a workout. To relieve discomfort and soreness from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), you can wear a moderate or mild compression level all day long.
In fact, many health care providers, such as physicians and nurses, wear compression socks during long shifts to avoid leg fatigue, spider veins, and varicose veins. When a health care provider has the chance to take a short rest during a 16-hour shift, they can safely nap in compression socks. The use of compression socks by standing workers has been tied to lower levels of oxidative stress and leg swelling, so the benefits outweigh the risks.
Long-haul flights can cause excess fluid to collect in your lower legs. The risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) increases anytime you're stuck in the same position for many hours at a time.
As your circulation slows, blood clots can form in your deep veins. Research also indicates that flying distances greater than 3,100 miles is a contributing risk factor for pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot moves from a deep vein in your leg and causes a blockage in your lung. Luckily, wearing compression socks may help you to avoid deep veins blood clots during long flights, also preventing dangerous complications.
Because the benefits of wearing compression socks on an overnight flight outweigh the risks, many physicians recommend wearing compression socks or stockings throughout the duration of a long-haul flight, even if you're planning to catch some Zs. Not only does compression therapy decrease your likelihood of developing dangerous blood clots, but it may also help you avoid the muscle aches and edema that frequently develop when you stay in the same position for long periods.
The Impact of Compression on Sleep
A 2011 study of men with obstructive sleep apnea showed that compression socks and stockings don't have to be worn overnight to impact sleep quality. The results of the study suggest that wearing compression stockings during the daytime can reduce the number of apneas and hypopneas you experience overnight.
Sleep disturbances are often caused by the displacement of fluid from the legs into the neck as a person lies in a horizontal position. By reducing the overall volume of fluid in the legs, compression socks also stop fluid accumulation in the neck. The study measured displacement of fluid from the legs to the neck via patients' neck circumference, as well as apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep. The use of compression stockings during the day improved both measures.
In addition to improving overall blood flow, knee-high compression socks can also lower the risk of DVT in vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, post-operative patients, and long-haul flight passengers. But, in most cases, you won't need to apply compression overnight to get medical benefits.
That's because graduated compression socks have the largest impact on symptoms when they're worn during waking hours. At those times, a graduated level of compression helps your veins transport blood against the pull of gravity. You don't need the same support when you're lying down.
That said, the benefit of compression socks continues throughout the night, even after you take off your socks. Your feet and calves retain less water, so you may be able to experience fewer sleep disturbances. Plus, you'll rest easier with the comfort of pain-free legs and feet.
Comrad socks can take you from your workout to your work shift—from nap time to a new time zone—all while applying the perfect amount of compression to keep your body in top form.
When it’s time to say goodnight, simply peel off your socks and relax. You can rest easy, knowing that you’ve gained real medical benefits throughout the day.
Influence of compression hosiery on physiological responses to standing fatigue in women | Med. Sci. Sports Exerc.
Reduction of oxidative stress by compression stockings in standing workers | Occup Med (Lond)