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Balancing an overstimulated nervous system.

The physical and mental relaxation benefits of soaking your feet before bed.


Too much sensory stimulation through technology and our fast pace of living tends to over work the nervous system. The most obvious symptoms of an overstimulated nervous system are insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, shallow sleep, stress, headaches, nervousness, poor circulation to the extremities, constipation and fatigue. (Additionally, sufferers of menstrual pain, other chronic pain and fertility challenges may also find benefits from soaking their feet.)

A very simple health practice is to soak your feet in hot water before you go to bed.  Soaking your feet in hot water increases QI and blood circulation in your entire body.  It allows your muscles to relax and deepens your sleep.  Lastly, soaking your feet will draw your overactive mind back into your body and promote physical and mental relaxation.
Disclaimer: It’s unlikely you’ll reap the benefits of this practice if you only soak your feet once or twice. But if you commit to this daily ritual for a period of time, you’ll start to notice the difference. Now, read on for the details!

How to soak your feet (properly)

Please read these instructions and precautions carefully before you try soaking your feet
  1. Fill a basin with hot water.  Any material is fine except for metal.  Make sure both feet fit comfortably inside.
  2. The water temperature should be kept between 104 and 122 degrees.  It should feel like you are putting your feet into a hot bath.
  3. The water should come up to just above your ankles.
  4. Leave your feet in the water for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove your feet from the water and dry them.  If you have slippers please put them on.  If you do not have slippers, keep your feet warm and don’t walk on the cold floor.
Precautions to keep in mind:
  1. DO NOT SOAK YOUR FEET IF YOU SUFFER FROM DIABETES.  Diabetics suffer from poor circulation.  Especially in the lower extremities.  People with diabetes will have difficulty feeling the true temperature of the water and they may burn themselves.
  2. DO NOT SOAK YOUR FEET IF YOU HAVE A HEART CONDITION.  Since soaking your feet slightly increases your heart rate it may cause problems for someone that already has a heart in a weakened state.
  3. Do not soak your feet longer than 15 minutes.  Soaking your feet will increase qi and blood circulation.  If you soak your feet too long it may cause your heart to beat too quickly.
  4. If you are in a weakened state, elderly or you have any clotting in the brain you may feel out of breath or dizzy while soaking your feet.  If you feel this way stop as soon as possible and lie in bed and rest.  You will be fine.  Soaking your feet causes qi and blood to circulate very strongly and draws qi and blood into your lower extremities.  If you have poor circulation in your upper body and brain this can make you feel uncomfortable.
  5. After you eat you should wait one hour before you soak your feet.  This is because after you eat most of your qi is in your spleen and stomach digesting your meal.  Soaking your feet will cause qi and blood to be drawn away from your digestive system which will cause your body to not digest your meal properly.
  6. You should not go to sleep immediately after soaking your feet.  While you are soaking your feet your body will feel warmer.  This is due to the qi and blood moving in your body.  You should wait until the sensation of your body temperature and feet returns to normal before going to bed.
- Ira Wahrman, Acupuncturist

Photo Credit: Scarleth Marie on Flickr