I’m a bit into woo. Not the “woo” of drunk girls at a bar on a Saturday night, the woo of those who are into more crunchy or alternative techniques for health, wellness, and relaxation. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about modern medicine and a huge supporter of vaccines. However, I love to also try out different ways to improve sleep, health, and focus on top of using tried and true scientific methods. I am not a doctor or an expert, and especially now it’s important to adhere to what medical professionals suggest for our safety and health. However, we all have a bit more time and a bit more stress and maybe some of my favorite “woo” methods may be an enjoyable addition to your routine. I’ll have a post on Wednesdays called Wednesday Woo.
Today's Woo is about Earthing, also known as Grounding
Yeah, I went pretty mild with the last three Wednesday Woos, and this one is a bit more… woo. I can imagine a few of you may already be rolling your eyes if you have heard of earthing. I'll admit I rolled my eyes when my husband introduced me to it. However, since he has employed several methods of earthing, AKA grounding, he has experienced faster recovery time from muscle soreness from exercise and deeper sleep. I have tried earthing and… I am not sure if it has benefitted me. I know it hasn't hurt me and I have experienced a reaction to it making me think there may be something to this. But then again, I do love me some woo…
What is Earthing and What are the Benefits?
Grounding, or earthing, refers to connecting electrically with the Earth. When your skin (usually your feet) comes in contact with the Earth (or you use a conductive system that transfers the energy from the ground into your body), free electrons are absorbed. These electrons supposedly neutralize free radicals involved in the body's immune and inflammatory responses. And supposedly the Earth's electrons can reduce pain, improve sleep, cause a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic tone in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and even have a blood-thinning effect (source).
The reason earthing has become a “thing” is because our current lifestyles have disconnected us from the Earth. In the past few decades, we have switched from leather-soled shoes to ones from rubber and plastic. We spend far more time indoors in insulated buildings and walk mostly on asphalt, wood and composite decks, and areas raised up from the ground. We also have a far more electricity- and technology-based world, surrounded by power lines, cell phone towers, and appliances next to our beds and carried on our bodies. Earthing can supposedly offset a lot of the damage from our modern lives and reduce inflammation which can cause all kinds of issues from joint pain to cardiovascular disease, PMS to acne.
My husband was an electrician in the Navy, both enlisted and many years as a Seabee in the Reserves. After leaving active duty, he was an electrician apprentice for a while before changing careers. While he admits he's crunchy woo, he also understands the technical aspect of grounding and it made it easier for me to accept this specific woo. However, as I will always repeat in my Wednesday Woo series, do your own research before embracing any woo.
How We Practice Earthing
We began earthing the easiest way possible: being barefoot outside. When the weather permits, we will go outside and spend a half-hour barefoot in the grass. Sometimes it's sitting or lying in the grass, sometimes it's sitting in an Adirondack chair with my bare feet flat on the ground, sometimes it's walking around in circles barefoot while answering Instagram DMs. This can also be done on sand, on plain concrete, on rocks, and on dirt. My husband is more consistent with this, and way more comfortable doing it when it's cold or wet or gross out.
Last year, one of my husband's yoga students offered him a grounding mat for our bed. It was essentially a metal screen that goes in windows, edged with duct tape to keep it from cutting us while we slept. It was two to three feet wide and long enough to drape down the sides of our king-sized bed. It had a wire that clipped to it and plugged into the wall. This blog post I found seems to be the instructions for the kind of mat we had. We placed the mat at the end of the mattress over the mattress pad and under the fitted sheet. My tall husband had this mat under his feet and ankles while he slept. Me being 5'3″, my feet barely reached the mat and I just found it annoying. After a couple of months, it broke and I wasn't sad about it at all.
While I didn't like it, I saw a marked difference in my husband. He used to struggle to fall asleep and would wake multiple times a night; with the mat he slept more soundly and woke less often. He said he saw a quicker recovery from hard workouts, and felt less pain in his back. So when he suggested us upgrading to an earthing sheet for our bed, I was game. I think how much I have spent on pillows and meditation apps and essential oils and diffusers that I understood his desire to buy such a thing for better sleep and a more comfortable body. In December we bought this fitted sheet from Amazon. I said I wouldn't support Amazon anymore, but I cannot find the brand off Amazon nor the products and I don't want to link to something I haven't actually used with my body. If you know of another retailer off Amazon that has a grounding sheet you have used, do share 9n the comments. The sheet is called, “Earthing Grounding Sheet Grounded Fitted Mattress Sheet Conductive 400TC Pure Silver Thread Healthy Earth Energy Therapy Bedding Blanket 95% Natural Organic Cotton USA.” It has nine ratings, eight of them five-star, one a two-star without any text to explain the score. I know the one we have is sold out; this is the same one from the same brand in a white and black grid pattern, this is what we have in twin size, and this is a half sheet that works like the old DIY mat we had but far less annoying.
Our earthing sheet is gray, a nice color not dingy. It actually matches the gray sheets I got from The Company Store a year ago. There is a subtle grid pattern on it from the silver threads for grounding. The sheet is deep pocket, it fits just fine on our Saatva mattress. On one end of the sheet is a black patch with two silver snaps, that's where you connect the cord that plugs into the electrical outlet on the wall. The cord is long enough that we were able to snake it down the bed and under the rug to the outlet so it's not a trip hazard. The sheet can be machine washed but must be line dried. It's important to keep oils and such off the sheet because it can cause the grounding wires to stop working; if you're the type that likes to slather on the body oils and creams before bed you may wish to lay down a towel. The sheet is cotton, and while it makes it sound like it's some high thread count, it's not anything special or at all silky. It's a basic cheap cotton sheet, maybe a bit thicker than most. Plugged in or not, the sheet doesn't feel different, look different, there is no sound or vibration or anything. We have washed the sheet over a dozen times and it has gotten softer, but still seems to work just as well.
The first couple of nights with the sheet was sort of weird. I was getting vibes or maybe I was giving them off. Shocks is the wrong term for it, because it didn't hurt, it didn't feel scary or electric. It felt… effervescent. The feeling wasn't so strong that it affected my sleep, I went to bed and slept as normal. A few nights, I have woken hot, and the sheet is warmer than my pillow. This could be because I sleep hot, because I am going through perimenopause, or because the sheet is warm since I'm sleeping on a grid of silver wires that is plugged into the wall. No idea, my husband didn't experience the same but then he likes being warm when sleeping. I am sleeping better, but I don't know if it's coincidental or because of the earthing sheet. I have reduced alcohol consumption, meat consumption, and bought a weighted blanket since getting the earthing sheet so I can't offer proof that the sheet is the reason for the change. My husband finds the earthing sheet to be far more beneficial than the DIY mat for reducing inflammation and improving sleep, and he and I find it far more comfortable.
There are other products for earthing and grounding; do a Google search and you'll find pillowcases, floor mats to go under your desk, special shoes, and even mouse pads. I have no experience with them and don't know if they work or not.
We continue to “ground” outside at least once a week, which may be bunk but feels good and as though it's something we humans are meant to do. It's especially enjoyable now since we spend so much time indoors that even when it's gray or chilly I do it because it's a good break from the house. It's hard to be outside and barefoot without being aware of nature. You may start by making sure you don't step in anything gross or have any insect crawl on you, but next thing you know ten minutes have gone by and all you have done is admire how the grass sways in the wind or a bee that is having a love affair with a dandelion. It may be the grounding, or it may be the scheduled time with nature, but the whole process calms me and the days I do it I sleep better.
Resources to Research Earthing or Grounding
I don't want to act like some expert on earthing, I am not. Most of what I have learned is from my husband, his friend who also practices earthing, and the links I have below. Do your own research, make your own decisions. I just share because it's a super easy and cheap way to possibly feel less achy and more grounded (pun intended).
- Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons (NCBI)
- The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (NCBI)
- The power of earthing (Eco-Age)
- The art of walking barefoot: a Q&A with Clint Ober (GOOP)
- And because this is woo and not proven science, an article from a skeptic: All About Grounding (Skeptoid)