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    How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks? 24/7 vs. Intermittent Wear?

    Should you wear compression socks at night? All day? Or only during daytime? Let's dive in and discover the optimal duration for wearing compression socks.

    May 29,2023   |    3 Mins Read


    The first rule of thumb in determining how long should be wearing compression socks is: Know your "why". Do you have poor circulation or leg swelling? Are you planning to incorporate it into your workout routine? Or have you been diagnosed with a condition such as deep vein thrombosis and your doctor has prescribed graduated compression technology for your treatment? The length of time you should wear your compression sock depends on the answer to this question.

    What Are Compression Socks and How Do They Work?

    Compression socks are compression garments designed to exert graduated compression on the legs and feet. The higher pressure is applied around the ankle area and gradually decreases up towards the knee.

    They're not your everyday, run-of-the-mill socks, though. They're more tightly woven and stretchy, kind of like a firm hug for your legs. And they have an important job to do: they help promote blood flow from the legs back to the heart, helping you prevent the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), leg swelling and other conditions caused by poor circulation.

    For individuals with no medical needs, wearing compression socks during activity can help improve circulation and support muscle performance during exercise. 

    How Many Hours a Day Is Recommended to Wear Compression Socks?

    Put your graduated compression socks first thing in the morning and take it off before you go to bed. For best therapeutic results, for those who are mobile and active, compression socks are advised to be worn during the day, typically for the entire duration that the person is awake and upright. This can be around 8-12 hours, or the length of the waking day for most individuals.

    However, it is important to note that all people are different and the duration of wear may vary from person to person, condition to condition. Your doctor can best assess your individual needs and tell you how long it's best to wear compression stockings or socks.

    Can I Wear Compression Socks 24 Hours a Day?

    Wearing them non-stop for too long might cause skin irritation or discomfort.

    As a rule of thumb, compression socks are usually advised to be worn during the day, when you're upright and gravity is working against your circulation. When you're lying down, your circulatory system doesn't have to fight gravity to get blood back to your heart, so the compression is not usually needed. Therefore, it's often recommended to remove the compression socks at night, before going to bed.

    However, there are exceptions. In some situations, such as severe edema or after certain types of surgery, a healthcare provider might recommend wearing compression socks around the clock. 

    How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks for Swollen Feet?

    The elastic in the socks compresses your leg tissues and walls of the veins, aiding blood to flow back towards your heart, and reducing swelling. It is generally recommended to wear compression socks during the day and take them off before going to bed. 

    Read the importance of wearing compression socks for swollen feet.

    How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks for Varicose Veins?

    When it comes to varicose veins and spider veins, compression socks are a first-line conservative treatment. Patients are advised to wear them throughout the day, especially when standing or sitting for prolonged periods, and take them off at night. Regular use can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. 

    Read the benefits of compression socks for spider veins.

    Situations Where Compression Socks May Be Beneficial

    how long should you wear compression socks for

    Compression sleeves are not only useful for medical conditions but can also provide benefits in various everyday situations. Let's take a look:

    1. Employees who are sedentary or on their feet all day: This includes nurses, office workers, and retail workers. These individuals often stand or sit for prolonged periods, which can lead to blood pooling in the lower extremities and increased risk of venous insufficiency.
    2. Pregnant women: Pregnancy often leads to swollen feet, legs, and ankles due to increased blood volume and hormonal changes that affect the veins. Wearing compression socks for pregnancy can help mitigate these side effects.
    3. Long-distance travelers: Those embarking on long flights of 5 hours or more can benefit from compression socks. The prolonged immobility increases the risk of DVT, which is why bringing compression socks for flying are a must-have.
    4. People with diabetes: Diabetes often leads to peripheral neuropathy and poor circulation in the feet, increasing the risk of foot ulcers. Compression socks can improve circulation in the lower extremities.
    5. Athletes: Compression socks can help prevent injury and improve physical performance by increasing circulation and oxygen delivery to muscles, reducing muscle vibration, and enhancing lactic acid removal.
    6. Seniors: Aging can lead to weaker veins and reduced blood flow in the legs, making seniors susceptible to DVT and varicose veins. Compression socks can help mitigate these risks.
    7. Post-surgical patients: Following surgery, particularly orthopedic procedures, there's an increased risk of blood clots. Wearing compression socks can reduce this risk.
    8. People at risk for DVT: Those with inherited blood clotting disorders, cancer, a history of previous DVT, or who are on prolonged bed rest are at an increased risk of DVT, and compression socks can help prevent its occurrence.
    9. People suffering from varicose veins: Compression socks can help manage symptoms related to varicose veins by improving venous return and reducing venous pressure.
    10. People with CVI: People with CVI: Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition where the valves in veins are faulty and not able to pump enough blood back to the heart. Graduated compression stockings and compression socks are the commonly the first line of treatment for CVI.

    Is There a Downside to Wearing Compression Socks?

    Compression socks should be taken off at least once every couple of hours in order to allow your skin to rest and refresh. 

    It's essential to get the right fit and compression level, which brings us to the question of how tight should you compression socks be. If worn too tight, compression socks can impede blood flow, which is counterproductive as they're meant to improve circulation. 

    Final Thoughts

    Generally, for individuals who are mobile and awake, wearing compression socks during daytime hours - roughly 12-16 hours - is recommended. They should ideally be put on in the morning, before any significant swelling can occur, and taken off before bed. It's important to note that wearing them continuously, including during sleep, is typically unnecessary unless specifically advised by a healthcare provider, as the effect of gravity on blood flow is significantly reduced in a horizontal position.

    Misuse of compression socks, such as wearing ones that are ill-fitting or too tight, can lead to problems like skin irritation or even impaired circulation. Therefore, the correct fitting and selection of compression level, usually done under healthcare guidance, are crucial to their safe and effective use.

    In summary, while compression socks are a beneficial and non-invasive method for managing various conditions related to blood flow in the lower limbs, they must be used correctly for optimal results. The 'one-size-fits-all' approach doesn't apply here - their use should be individualized based on a person's specific health condition, lifestyle, and needs. 


    • Ask the doctor: Compression stockings for long-distance travel? (2014, August 20). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/ask-the-doctor-compression-stockings-for-long-distance-travel-‌
    • Blättler, W., & Partsch, H. (2003). Leg compression and ambulation is better than bed rest for the treatment of acute deep venous thrombosis. International angiology : A Journal of the International Union of Angiology, 22(4), 393–400. 
    • Lim, C. S., & Davies, A. H. (2014). Graduated compression stockings. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 186(10), E391–E398. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.131281


    Claire Evans worked as the content marketing manager at Koprez. Claire combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve consumers, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and anyone who relies on the Koprez brand for helpful information.

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