Can You Sleep in Compression Socks?

A runner wearing compression socks.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned runner, it can be tough to stay up to speed on the latest recovery trends. With all the options out there, it’s only natural to be confused about what exactly you need in terms of running accessories–specifically, recovery gear.

Enter compression socks. How long should you keep them on to reap the benefits?

What are compression socks?

A runner wearing compression socks sits on a park bench.

Compression socks are elastic socks that fit very tightly and are worn up to the knee. They typically come in either a full sock that covers the whole foot, or as a sleeve that begins at the ankle, which might be preferable if you have different go-to socks that help to prevent blisters.

Compression socks or sleeves can be worn on the run, or any time of day to promote blood flow and circulation, prevent swelling, and reduce soreness, pain and discomfort. Compression socks provide these benefits by compressing the veins on the leg’s surface, along with your muscles and arteries.

There are several brands of compression socks to choose from these days. We love CEP compression socks, which you can find at your local Fleet Fleet store, for their graduated compression, meaning the compression level is tightest at the ankle and gradually loosens up the calf. Compression socks are also usually available in a wide range of fun colors, allowing you to choose something to perfectly match your race-day outfit.

When should you wear compression socks

While there’s no harm in wearing compression socks while running or racing, recent research suggests that compression socks support recovering from a hard effort more than aiding in running performance while in use. For example, you'll likely get more benefit from compression socks by wearing them to recover after a race or workout rather than wearing them to improve performance during the race or workout.

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to wear compression socks in your everyday life, whether it’s while you relax at home immediately after a long run, or you wear them under long pants at work or while running errands. It’s also a great idea to wear them on long flights before or after a race, in addition to getting up to walk around, to prevent blood clots. All of these options may also have you wondering: Is it OK to wear compression socks to sleep?

Can you sleep in compression socks?

It’s no surprise that many runners might be inclined to believe sleeping in compression socks can better aid recovery, as sleep is an important part of recovery on its own. However, according to Cleveland Clinic, wearing compression socks to sleep isn’t harmful, nor does it provide additional benefits that you wouldn’t get from wearing them at any other time while recovering from a run. That’s because when you’re awake and moving around, the effect of gravity is benefiting your veins, which doesn’t happen while you sleep.

Sleeping in compression socks may potentially be beneficial for people with vein disease who experience open sores in their legs, but this obviously is unrelated to endurance activities like running.

However, sleeping in compression socks might potentially be uncomfortable. Think about it: Compression socks are designed to fit and hug your calves tightly. You don’t typically wear tight and constrictive clothing to bed, right? You might find that you’re not as cozy donning compression socks as you are in soft, loose-fitting pajama pants or shorts.

So if you’re already regularly wearing compression socks to promote post-run recovery, you (and your calves and feet) can breathe easily knowing you’re doing enough and can keep the running gear and accessories out of your bed.

A runner wearing compression socks and recovery slides.

Keep Reading