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Better Sleep from Feet Up

sleep Jun 16, 2021

Research shows warming feet may help menopausal women improve their sleep.

 By Selene Yeager

Every menopausal woman knows the power of the mighty foot. Too hot at night? Just poke that foot out from under the covers. Too cold? Tuck that foot in. Now research shows that submerging your soles in a foot bath before bed can reduce disruptive menopause symptoms and lead to a better night’s rest.

 The study, which was published in Research in Nursing & Health, included 100 menopausal women, about 95 percent of whom were poor sleepers, according to the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI). The women also experienced the usual disruptive menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. The researchers found that the more severe symptoms the women had, the higher (a.k.a. worse) their sleep scores were.

For the study, the researchers had half of the group lie their feet in a warm water foot bath for 20 minutes one hour before bed for six weeks, while the other group went about their usual bedtime routines.

 At the end of the study period, the women who performed foot baths enjoyed a decrease in their menopause symptoms and a significant improvement in sleep quality compared to their counterparts who didn’t perform a nightly foot soak.

 It’s easy to imagine why a leisurely bedtime foot bath improves sleep: you’re relaxing and lowering stress, which helps reduce pretty much every menopause symptom.

 But there also seems to be special sleep benefits associated with foot warming. A study published in Physiology & Behavior found that manipulating your foot temperature with either foot baths or heatable bed socks (yep, there are microwavable booties to warm your tootsies) before or, in the case of socks, after tucking under the covers helps people with age-related insomnia fall asleep faster.

 According to Medical News Today, warming the feet before bed helps dilate blood vessels in those lower extremities, which releases heat and helps to lower your core body temperature, which in turn sends signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep.

Cooling your core may also help keep hot flashes at bay, so you can sleep better through the night, according to the Sleep Foundation.

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