People no longer walk barefoot, lie down on the grass, or get their hands dirty in the soil. But earthing enthusiasts agree we should bring back these practices. Here, we’ll break down the benefits and potential drawbacks of earthing or grounding and explore how it could contribute to better sleep.
What is grounding and earthing?
Earthing or grounding is having your skin in direct contact with the surface of the Earth. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they can have slightly different meanings:
- Earthing refers to physical contact with the Earth's surface.
- Grounding describes the practice of connecting with the Earth for health benefits.
The Earth’s surface is negatively charged due to the presence of free electrons. The idea behind earthing is that connecting your body to the Earth’s surface allows these electrons to spread over and into the body, promoting various health benefits.
This connection typically takes place by walking barefoot or touching the surface of the Earth with your hands. People also use grounding mats, sheets, or other equipment to keep in contact with the Earth while doing their everyday activities.
Different types of earthing
Earthing requires bare skin contact with the Earth’s surface. Nowadays, people don’t often go barefoot or take a nap on the floor. Earthing techniques bring back these habits that faded away with modern times. You can practice earthing indoors or outdoors. Here are a few examples of each:
|Going for a walk barefoot
|Using grounding sheets or socks while sleeping
|Lying on the floor
|Sitting on a grounding mat
|Taking a dip in a lake or sea
|Resting your feet on a grounding pad while working
Sleep grounding and earthing
Sleep grounding refers to connecting your body to the Earth’s electrical charge while sleeping. Those who practice it use grounding products like sheets, mats, and sleep pads that connect to the Earth through a conductive material. These products are designed to transfer electrons from the Earth's surface to your body during sleep.
Benefits for better sleep
The exact mechanism by which earthing improves sleep is unclear. However, the technique is thought to alleviate physical and emotional discomforts, such as inflammation, pain, and stress. As a result, people sleep better.
Some potential benefits of grounding that may indirectly affect sleep include:
- Reduced inflammation. Earthing may help reduce inflammation by neutralizing reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can cause oxidative stress and damage cells. The idea is that electrons from the Earth act like natural antioxidants, neutralizing ROS and helping reduce oxidative stress. This reduces inflammation, promoting a more restful night's sleep.
Pain relief. Some people say they feel less pain when practicing earthing, which may help them sleep better at night.
- Stress relief. Being in contact with the Earth is thought to normalize the autonomic nervous system (ANS) function, promoting a calming effect that may help induce sleep.
- Better mood. Studies suggests that spending one hour in contact with the Earth can improve one’s mood and induce relaxation, associated with better sleep quality.
What does science say?
Some scientists believe that absorbing free electrons from the Earth’s surface can have beneficial effects on people’s health, including improving sleep quality.
To date, evidence regarding this claim is limited since only a few scientific studies have looked at the effects of earthing on sleep.
In one study, participants dealing with sleep disturbances, pain, and stress slept in their own beds using a conductive mattress pad for eight weeks. The study found that sleeping grounded helped normalize daily cortisol rhythms. It also reduced pain and inflammation and improved sleep quality — 11 out of 12 participants said they fell asleep more quickly, and all 12 said they woke up fewer times during the night.
Another study involved individuals with sleep disturbances and chronic muscle joint pain. Individuals were divided into two groups: both slept on conductive carbon fiber mattress pads, but for one group, the pad was connected to the Earth. Most grounded individuals reported improvements in pain and sleep quality.
Most studies on the effects of sleep grounding are small and rely on subjective measures, so we must interpret this data with caution. More research is needed to understand whether earthing while sleeping can help you sleep better.
Steps and tips on how to practice it
Some people find that practicing earthing helps them sleep better. If you're considering giving earthing a try, here are some tips on how to get started:
- Walk around. Whenever possible, go for a barefoot walk in nature. Choose your preferred soil; it can be sand, mud, or grass. Be present in the moment as you do this and enjoy each different sensation on your skin.
- Get your hands dirty. It’s time to embrace your inner child by playing with soil. Dig in and feel the earth run through your fingers. Another great way to connect with the Earth is by taking care of a garden.
- Go swimming. If you’re lucky enough to live by the sea or a lake, take the opportunity to go for a swim whenever possible.
Grounding and earthing equipment
Just because you can’t go outside doesn’t mean you can’t ground yourself. Earthing equipment is an alternative to keeping your body connected to the Earth. See some examples:
Earthing or grounding mats. These are mats you place on the floor; they are typically connected to the ground through a cord, and when you touch it with your bare skin, it allows you to conduct the Earth’s energy.
Earthing or grounding sheets or blankets. These sheets and blankets are made from conductive materials, allowing you to absorb the Earth’s electrons while you sleep.
Earthing or grounding socks and shoes. Earthing socks and shoes contain conductive materials that keep you connected with the ground even when walking on surfaces that insulate you from Earth, such as asphalt.
Earthing or grounding bands and patches. Earthing bands and patches contain conductive materials that facilitate grounding. Bands are often worn around the wrists and ankles, and patches are adhesives that you apply to specific areas of the body.
Possible drawbacks to earthing
Earthing is usually safe for most people. However, exposure to nature may pose some health risks. For instance, walking barefoot could lead to injury from sharp objects. Outdoor walks could increase the risk of pollen allergies or insect bites. Direct contact with the soil may increase the risk of infections by bacteria and parasites. So, be aware of your surroundings while practicing earthing, and consult your doctor before trying anything new.
Earthing or grounding techniques aim to reconnect us to the Earth. According to earthing practitioners, absorbing the Earth’s electrical charge can bring several health benefits. Practicing earthing is generally harmless; however, its benefits have not yet been proven. Therefore, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before trying any new treatment.
Are earthing sheets safe?
Using earthing sheets is generally considered safe for most people. These sheets usually come with built-in safety features, such as resistors, to prevent the risk of electric shocks. However, it’s important to purchase them from reputable sources that adhere to safety standards.
What are the grounding techniques to help you sleep?
Sleep grounding or earthing while sleeping involves connecting to the Earth's energy while you sleep. This can be done with the help of equipment, such as sheets, mats, and sleep pads made from conductive materials.
Does earthing help with insomnia?
So far, there’s no evidence that earthing helps with insomnia, but some studies show that it can improve subjective measures of sleep quality.
The concept behind earthing is that free electrons from the Earth’s surface promote health benefits when in contact with the human body.
One can practice earthing while outdoors or indoors using grounding equipment.
Earthing may improve sleep quality, but more research is needed to conclude.
- J Inflamm Res. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
- Explore. The effects of grounding (earthing) on bodyworkers’ pain and overall quality of life: A randomized controlled trial.
- J Altern Complement Med. Earthing (grounding) the human body reduces blood viscosity-a major factor in cardiovascular disease.
- Explore. Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations.
- Psychol Rep. The effect of grounding the human body on mood.
- ESD Journal. Grounding the Human Body to Neutralize Bioelectrical Stress From Static Electricity and EMFs.