A grounding mat is an electrical item that allows us to mimic direct contact with the earth’s surface electrons. This process is known as the Earthing Hypothesis and is reported to have numerous positive effects. In this guide, we look at various grounding mat benefits and how these products could help if you suffer from chronic pain, inflammation, and sleep disorders.
Grounding Mats 101: How They Work
Before we jump into the potential benefits of this product, it is important to understand what it is and how it works.
The Earthing Hypothesis
The earth’s surface has a negative charge – think of it like a battery. When we make direct contact with the surface, such as walking barefoot, free electrons transfer from the earth into the human body.
Our bodies have various circulating chemical factors. Our nervous system, which uses electrical impulses to control different things such as our heartbeat and muscle contraction, plays a big part in how we function.
External factors such as chronic stress and even electrical devices often disrupt the electrical balance within our body. As a result, taking free or mobile electrons from the earth can help redress that imbalance and lead to numerous health benefits.
The Physical Properties of a Grounding Mat
It is not always possible to make direct contact with the unpaved ground. For example, it is generally frowned upon in Western societies to walk barefoot, and virtually everyone uses footwear. According to the earthing theory, many people would therefore have an electrical imbalance in their body, which could contribute to health issues.
A grounding mat effectively mimics the negative charge of the earth’s surface to give us that chance to find balance. These products are simple in design. They are made of conductive material connected to a power lead that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. When turned on, the mat emits a low-level electrical charge that replicates making contact with the earth.
All we have to do is physically touch the mat to reap its benefits. Typically, people stand or even sleep on an earthing mat. You can also use it as a mouse or desk pad while you work.
The Potential Benefits of Earthing
The benefits of earthing are numerous and include things like delayed onset muscle soreness, improved immune response, and a better quality of sleep.
It is important to note that this technology is still in its infancy. Health professionals are divided over its effectiveness. Some say that it provides no health benefits at all, while others call it the most important health discovery in recent years.
We would say that both of these extremes are incorrect. While a grounding mat certainly isn’t a miracle cure, scientific studies show potential benefits. We have listed the main ones below.
1. Helps With Sleep Disorders
Did you know that sleep disturbances are incredibly common? Indeed, approximately one-third of people suffer from some disorders of this type.
Typical nighttime issues include disrupted sleep, waking up with muscle soreness, and still feeling groggy or tired when waking up. More severe problems include conditions like insomnia.
Grounding the human body during sleep is shown to have many positive effects, although more research is still needed. These benefits of earthing could include:
- Falling to sleep quicker
- Better sleep with fewer disturbances
- Less muscle stiffness and morning pains
- Improved pain relief from chronic conditions
- Reduced cortisol levels which contribute to stress and other illnesses
As you can see, this is an important health discovery; so grounding mats could be the answer for those dealing with poor sleep quality.
Using a Grounding Mat at Night
If you suffer from sleep disorders or simply want to wake up feeling fresher, using an earthing mat could be a good option.
Some special grounding mats can sit on top of your mattress and are large enough for you to rest on them. Some models require direct contact with your skin, whilst others allow the use of a top sheet for extra comfort.
Essentially, you position the earthing mat so you can lie on it, plug it in, and leave it running as you sleep.
2. Reduces Cardiovascular Risk
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in many countries. Approximately 17.9 million people die from CVDs each year, accounting for nearly 32% of global deaths. Typical causes of CVDs include unhealthy diets, a lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, and excessive use of substances like tobacco and alcohol.
Luckily, the benefits of earthing can include a lessened risk of cardiovascular disease. This is mainly achieved via a reduction in blood pressure. If you are prone to CVDs, a grounding mat combined with an improved diet and more exercise could be your ticket to a healthier lifestyle.
3. Anxiety and Depression Management
Anxiety and depression are on the rise, and many people suffer from these conditions in both mild and severe forms. Especially crippling cases, for example, can result in people being unable to leave their homes or perform basic daily tasks.
A study in 2015 showed that grounding, even for a short period (an hour), had positive effects on people’s moods. This was due to the decreased blood pressure and the balancing of the autonomic nervous system, which we discuss separately below.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, we initially advise seeking professional help because there could be underlying health conditions or factors that need addressing.
However, using a grounding mat for several hours daily while relaxing and watching TV could also be beneficial. If a person feels a negative mood or bout of depression arising, for example, they could try to counteract these by earthing.
4. Improves Recovery From Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is persistent and typically lasts 12 weeks or longer. This condition often continues regardless of medication or treatment. Chronic pain could also result from an injury, or it often occurs in people suffering from diabetes, arthritis, and IBS.
Although there is often no cure for this ailment, evidence has shown that using a grounding mat can help reduce pain and improve recovery times.
5. Decreases Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is typically a result of unfamiliar exercise or intensive eccentric muscle loading. This means our bodies suffer because we haven’t developed muscle memory and durability to cope with these new, strenuous activities.
Chronic inflammatory pains typically arise 24-72 hours after the exercise or activity. They can be incredibly debilitating and mean that we struggle to do basic tasks during that period.
Studies have shown that grounding human subjects at night after several hours per day of unfamiliar exercise had positive effects. These benefits included reduced muscle soreness, lower white blood cells (a sign that the body isn’t actively fighting any problems), normalised cortisol levels, and lower creatine kinase (a muscle damage marker).
Furthermore, subjects also reported less impairment and a faster healing process that allowed them to continue their activities as normal.
Using a Grounding Mat for Inflammation
You could use an earthing mat as a reactionary form of treatment for inflammation. By this, we mean it could be used after you have engaged in some strenuous or unfamiliar activity.
For example, let’s say you had a particularly tough day at work that involved moving office equipment and archive boxes. This is not a typical task, and thus your body may not cope well with the strain.
After such an activity, you could prevent inflammation and muscle soreness by using a grounding mat in the evening or even during sleep. This could allow a faster recovery time and less pain afterwards.
6. Balances Autonomic Nervous System
The human nervous system has many branches, each with its own functions. One of the most important parts is the autonomic nervous system, which directly controls our physiological state.
Within this main branch, there are two sections. Firstly, we have the sympathetic, known as the “fight or flight” response. It can increase blood pressure and blood sugar while decreasing digestion and healing. Secondly, there is the parasympathetic branch, which essentially does the opposite.
In an ideal world, our parasympathetic response should be active and predominant. However, due to the stresses of modern life, the sympathetic part often wins. Subjective reporting on human subjects has shown that using grounding mats can increase parasympathetic activity and thus lead to lower blood pressure, balanced blood sugars, and an improved immune system.
7. Coping With Autism and Alzheimer’s
A lesser researched area of grounding is to assist those with Alzheimer’s and Autism. These are both persistent conditions but also progressive in the case of Alzheimer’s.
Did you know that approximately 55 million people live with dementia/Alzheimer’s worldwide? It is also reported that around 1% of the world’s population is on the Autism spectrum.
Studies have shown that using a grounding mat can benefit those with these conditions. Using an earthing device certainly won’t cure Autism or Alzheimer’s. However, it could help people cope better. For example, it can reduce blood pressure and emotional stress, which often trigger behavioural issues with these conditions.
We hope you have found this guide useful. The potential health implications of using grounding mats are brilliant, and we expect this technology to become more prominent.
As more research is conducted, the uncertainty around this product should also be erased. This will be replaced with more scientific backing and a wealth of studies so that people can be fully informed on this practice.
Looking for the best grounding mat? Check out our guide here.