Compression tights have many benefits – recovery, improved performance, enhanced blood flow. But have you ever wondered—is it okay to sleep in compression tights or sleeves?
It’s a good question. The answer all depends on your goals and what compression gear you wear. Some are better than others, but you may be surprised at the answers.
Keep reading if you need to know the effects of wearing compression gear while sleeping!
What are compression tights?
Compression tights apply pressure to specific areas of the legs. Often, they’re made from a blend of materials like nylon, magicotton, cotton, or spandex.
The tights have graduated compression in specific areas. This helps provide additional support to the muscles in the legs—hamstrings, quads, calves, and knees.
These graduated areas can provide support to an area with an existing minor injury. But they also provide support to reduce the risk of injury, increase blood circulation, reduce lactic acid build-up, and promote muscle recovery.
What are compression sleeves?
Imagine a knee-high sock, but without the foot portion. Calf compression sleeves provide graduated compression from the ankle to the calf.
Compression sleeves are a great choice for long distance runs, recovery runs or intense workouts. They can help to prevent shin splints, boost blood flow to the muscles in the lower leg, reduce inflammation and pain, as well as reduce recovery time.
Compression sleeves are especially effective if you run on uneven or hard surfaces. They help to reduce the amount of strain placed on the muscles in the front of the lower leg—tibialis anterior muscle.
Compression sleeves support the same muscles for people who have high arches or flat feet. The muscles in the front of the leg are often placed under strain when they have to work harder to provide stability.
Compression socks have the foot portion, and provide compression to the bridge of the foot and ankle as well as to the calf.
Both are tight-fitting. Graduated compression of 15 to 30 mmHg— is typical (measured in millimeters of mercury)—depending on your personal preference.
What are the benefits of wearing compression tights and sleeves?
Wearing compression tights or sleeves during your workout or post-workout has many benefits. Compression increases your body’s efficiency in blood circulation. This boosts the amount of oxygen and nutrients that are delivered to the muscles.
Increased blood flow helps to get rid of metabolic waste and lactic acid. With an increase in oxygen in the muscles, there’s less lactic acid build-up. This means that you’ll run further or longer as your lactate clearance rate is improved.
There is also a reduction of creatine kinase in the body. Creatine kinase uses ATP—Adenosine triphosphate—to make phosphocreatine and adenosine diphosphate. When this conversion happens in the body, you experience muscle fatigue.
If we were to look at the body battery system, ATP would be a fully-charged battery. ADP—Adenosine Diphosphate—would be a battery with a very low charge.
While you’re working out, graduated compression supports the muscles, which reduces the risk of injury. This support also reduces the amount of muscle vibration while running.
After your workout, the compression will help to reduce inflammation and pain in the muscles.
Compression tights and sleeves will increase the temperature of the skin and surrounding muscles. This increases the blood flow to the muscles and promotes recovery.
When should you wear compression tights and sleeves?
Both compression tights and sleeves can be worn when you exercise. Compression is a good choice, especially for harder workouts.
While you may not see compression sleeves in the gym, you’ll definitely see compression tights. You may find that for cross-training or strength training, compression tights are a big help.
If you’re going for a long run, then you may find that compression sleeves would work better, especially if it’s a hot day.
After your run or cross-training, you may want to wear the compression gear for a few hours. This will help to speed up your recovery.
Compression gear can also keep your legs from feeling fatigued if you spend a large portion of the day on your feet.
So… Can you sleep in compression tights and sleeves?
Yes, you can. Although when it comes to sleeping, compression may not produce any extra recovery benefits. And you may lose some sleep, too.
The design of compression sleeves means that they can restrict blood flow in the ankle and the foot. When you’re lying down, your body isn’t fighting gravity anymore, and the compression benefits lessen. Compression gear can make it easier, then, for blood to pool in your extremities.
If the compression sleeves are too tight, the additional pressure that’s placed on the body may cause circulation to slow down or not work properly in certain areas.
If you’re going to wear compression sleeves to bed, make sure that they fit right. The edges of the sleeves shouldn’t leave any indentations that cause discomfort or dig into your skin.
While compression tights would be a better option to sleep with, this may not actually provide additional benefits.
When you’re moving throughout the day, the graduated compression delivers the right amount of pressure to the muscles as they contract. When you’re lying down, the pressure does change, and you may not get the full benefits.
You may find that the compression feels comfortable when you go to bed. But you could wake up a few hours later and the compression is now making you uncomfortable.
Sleep is a vital part of recovery, as your body needs to go through REM and deep sleep cycles to restore and repair the body. If your sleep is disturbed, or if you don’t sleep well, this could affect any recovery benefits.
Check With Your Doctor
Before sleeping in compression gear, be it compression tights, socks, or even sleeves, it is best to consult with your medical practitioner.
If you have medical conditions or are at risk for—or have— deep vein thrombosis, peripheral neuropathy, or edema, then it would be best that you don’t sleep with compression gear.