What Does “Sleep Grounding” Mean and Is It Worth the Hype?
Sleep grounding mats have taken social media by storm, promising to improve your overall health and well-being. But are these mats truly effective or just another passing trend? The concept of earthing or grounding, which involves connecting with the Earth’s natural electricity, has sparked a lot of discussions regarding its potential benefits.
Earthing can be achieved by sitting or sleeping on a grounding mat, or by spending time outdoors on the ground or in water. Advocates claim that this practice allows your body to absorb the Earth’s electrons, leading to various health improvements.
So, what exactly does earthing do? By connecting to the ground or using grounding mats, your body’s bioelectrical circuits stabilize, resulting in a range of health benefits, including reduced inflammation, as noted by The Earthing Institute.
How to Incorporate Earthing Into Your Routine
Earthing is a flexible practice that can be done anywhere. Whether you prefer walking or sitting barefoot outdoors, swimming in a lake, or using a grounding mat on your bed, the possibilities are endless. Some even opt for grounding pads under their desks or wearable bands and skin patches with grounding properties. Sleeping on a grounding mat, known as grounded sleeping, has gained popularity due to the extended duration it allows individuals to experience the benefits. Some individuals place the mat over their sheet, while others prefer it underneath the fitted sheet.
Indoor grounding products are designed to connect to an outlet’s grounding port, not for electricity consumption. This connection taps into the natural grounding system and functions similarly to the safety feature that protects appliances from electric shocks.
The Benefits of Grounding: Fact or Fiction?
According to the Institute website, both naturally practicing earthing and using grounding products that connect to an outlet’s ground port can yield similar health benefits. Research suggests that grounding can help lower inflammation, stress, and fatigue. It may also improve mood (though generally, spending time outdoors has also been linked to mood improvement). There is even evidence indicating that grounding may reduce anxiety and contribute to improved thyroid hormone and glucose levels. Additionally, research suggests that grounding can enhance sleep quality and decrease cortisol levels, the stress hormone.
While there is some research supporting the concept of earthing, many studies are small-scale or rely on self-reported data. However, some studies have used clinical metrics and demonstrated physiological improvements. More comprehensive studies could help validate the benefits of earthing, but proponents of grounding products firmly believe in their personal results.
It’s important to note that grounding may not be suitable for everyone. According to Jillian Kubala, a nutritionist from New York, some individuals may find the practice uncomfortable or have difficulty achieving a good night’s sleep if the ground is cold or hard. People with mobility issues may also face challenges with ground sleeping.
Furthermore, Gaétan Chevalier, Ph.D., director of The Earthing Institute, cautions that individuals may experience a “detox reaction” when they first start spending more time connecting with the ground or using grounding mats. Symptoms of this reaction may include fatigue or headaches.
Getting Started with Grounding
If you’re interested in incorporating earthing into your lifestyle, it’s advisable to consult your doctor before starting. To begin, simply spend time outdoors, preferably barefoot.
It’s important to note that sneakers and most shoes will not provide grounding as their soles are made of plastic or rubber. According to Kubala, sleeping in a tent alone will not allow for grounding. However, using a grounded sleeping mat atop an air mattress or on your regular bed at home can achieve the desired effect.
When selecting a grounding spot, try to find an area free from pesticides, fungicides, or other chemicals. If possible, wading in a stream, lake, or the ocean is ideal, as the ocean is known to be the most conductive place on Earth.
Remember that even short periods of grounding can be beneficial. “Try it out,” advises Kate Bernhardt, founder of the grounding product company Ultimate Longevity. “The more time you spend, the better the results you’ll get, but even 10, 20, or 30 minutes can be valuable.”
- Bernhardt, Kate. Author interview. June 2023.
- Chevalier, Gaétan. Author interview. June 2023.
- Kubala, Jillian. Author interview. June 2023.
- Maurice Ghaly and Dale Teplitz. The Biologic Effects of Grounding the Human Body During Sleep as Measured by Cortisol Levels and Subjective Reporting of Sleep, Pain, and Stress. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Oct 2004.767-776.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2004.10.767
- Karol Sokal and Pawel Sokal. Earthing the Human Body Influences Physiologic Processes. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Apr 2011.301 308.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2010.0687
- Park H-J, Jeong W, Yu HJ, Ye M, Hong Y, Kim M, Kim JY, Shim I. The Effect of Earthing Mat on Stress-Induced Anxiety-like Behavior and Neuroendocrine Changes in the Rat. Biomedicines. 2023; 11(1):57. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines11010057
- Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015 Mar 24;8:83-96. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S69656. PMID: 25848315; PMCID: PMC4378297.