Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
Have you ever considered why you feel so fantastic while you're on a beach vacation? Time away from work and other responsibilities accounts for part of that good feeling. However, I believe that the more significant factor is that you've spent so much time in contact with the Earth's surface.
Spending time outdoors has always made me feel better.
For years I've felt that walking barefoot on the beach was healing therapy. During the years we lived in Florida, I always felt and looked healthiest. Part of that was the constant sunshine that resulted in higher Vitamin D levels, which boosted the immune system. Still, another aspect was that I spent more time experiencing the health benefits of grounding.
I'll share my mother's and my own experiences after implementing the technique of Grounding during sleep. Plus, what I learned while researching the topic.
What is Grounding or Earthing
The Earth's surface contains an unlimited supply of negatively charged electrons. About 99% of the human body comprises atoms (made of protons, neutrons, and electrons.) These atoms are neutral until they lose an electron, which causes it to have a positive charge with the ability to damage the cells in our body. This damage contributes to all kinds of problems, including chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, cancer, chronic inflammation, and more.
In the energy cycle within the human body, electrons are passed from hydrocarbons to oxygen. They are the driving force for maintaining life processes in cells.
Some even consider the electrons passed to us through the Earth as antioxidants. This antioxidant like activity is like “electric nutrition” as these mobile electrons give the Earth a negative charge, naturally, and nourish plants, animals, and people. Bottom line: these free electrons that are absorbed into the body when you are in direct contact with the Earth are helping your body function better.
Grounding (or earthing as the two terms can be used interchangeably) refers to being in direct contact with the Earth or being in contact with a conductive wire during sleeping or daily activities. Research suggests that this contact with the Earth has a strong natural painkilling, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and stress-reducing properties. The effects of Grounding are astonishing.
When we make direct contact with the surface of the Earth, with our bare feet or hands, our bodies receive a charge of energy that makes us feel better, fast.~ Earthing.com
Walking in your backyard barefoot, gardening, pulling weeds from your flower bed, swimming in the ocean, or walking along the beach is to absorb Earth's energy. But what happens when we disconnect or shield ourselves from absorbing this energy? We cover our bare feet with insulating materials such as sneakers or rubber-soled shoes all day. At night, we sleep in beds that are isolated from the Earth's electrical ground plane. 6
Being isolated from the Earth by non-conductive materials such as wood, tile, and carpeted floorings in our homes, as well as rubber and plastic in our shoes, leaves us feeling unhealthy.~ Earthing.com
Advocates say direct physical contact with the negative charge on the ground could potentially neutralize free radicals. Furthermore, they attribute barefoot contact with the Earth to a variety of health benefits. A few of the benefits include improving sleep, reducing pain, wound healing, lowered stress, and tension.
Methods of Grounding
Before we get into the health benefits of Grounding, let's talk about methods of Grounding. Simply put, it is entirely free to walk out into your backyard and experience the benefit of Grounding. However, there are also ways to practice Grounding if you don't have a backyard.
The Earth's Surface
Swimming in natural bodies of water is one way to experience these health benefits from the Earth. Water that contains more minerals such as magnesium or salt makes the water more conductive than pure or distilled water.
Lakes, rivers, and oceans are all good conductors, whether swimming, floating, or just standing on the ground in the water. The ocean is especially beneficial as it contains more minerals and salts than do rivers and lakes.
Hot springs typically have a high mineral content, which could account for the healing effects we experience when we partake in them. Because of the higher mineral content, the water in hot springs is more conductive than lakes or oceans.
Whether you are walking barefoot on gravel, pebbles, the forest bed, leaves, grass, sand, dirt, or rock, you are grounding. Concrete also allows the absorption of electrons from the Earth. However, asphalt or glazed tiles do not.
Another more easily controlled method of Grounding is to use an Earthing material on your bed, desk, chairs, etc. Earthing mats on top of your desk where you rest your arms while typing, or under your desk where you put your feet while sitting or standing are excellent grounding techniques.
Sleeping on your bed while connected to a conductive system that will transfer the Earth's electrons from the ground into your body. While this may sound complicated and perhaps even a bit scary, chances are you will get the best sleep of your life!
After I started using this method, I quickly forgot just under my sheet was an earthing mat providing these negatively charged electrons to my body while I slept. For years, I've been an early riser, too early! Sleeping past five o'clock was “sleeping in” for me, as most mornings, I'd be wide awake by 3:30 or 4 a.m.
Suddenly I was sleeping until around 6:30 several mornings in a row. (I always wake naturally and never use an alarm clock.) The “sleeping in” was perplexing to me until I began to study for this article. Coincidentally, the week before I began grounding in my sleep, I had my cortisol levels tested over 24 hours. They were so low that only my morning sample had cortisol levels close to (but still below) the normal range.
That test was in August 2020; I will share results from the next test I have done and the previous results for comparison purposes.
Being grounded as often as possible is now part of my wellness routine. I believe in the benefits of earthing, so when I am sitting at my desk I keep the grounding mat beneath my feet and under my wrists.
Earthing restores your body’s natural internal electrical stability and rhythms. It shifts the nervous system from a stress-dominated mode to one of calmness and you sleep better. By reconnecting, you enable your body to return to its normal electrical state, better able to self-regulate and self-heal.Clint Ober
Health Benefits of Grounding
An overall sense of well-being is a worthy goal. Feeling well has a positive impact on your mood and your outlook on life.
Emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the Earth's electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being.”~ Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons
The Earth's negative electrons are said to create a more stable environment, which leads to better function in all of the body's systems.
“Nearly everyone who sleeps grounded says they sleep better.” 7
Grounding shows promising results for those with insomnia. It is said to improve sleep hygiene in every way. Reported benefits include falling asleep faster, less fatigue upon waking, reduced pain during sleep, and more balanced cortisol levels.
Better sleep also leads to less daytime fatigue and increased energy levels.
The theory is that earthing benefits include regulation of the autonomic nervous system and circadian rhythms, both responsible for keeping our internal clocks synchronized. When our circadian rhythm is off, we begin to experience sleep problems.
The regulation of body temperature, blood pressure, secretion of melatonin, and cortisol all have a role to play in our sleep cycles. Tests have shown that being grounded during sleep stabilizes and resynchronizes cortisol levels. The test subjects also reported improved sleep and reduced pain levels. 2
As far back as the early 1900s, doctors were investigating Grounding after some patients stated they could not sleep unless on the ground or connected to the ground somehow. Upon further investigation, the doctors reported improved sleep. 4, 5
Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Mood
One of the effects of Grounding is regulating diurnal body rhythms like over or underproduction of the stress hormone cortisol. You've probably heard of cortisol as the stress hormone, the one related to your “fight or flight” response.
The autonomic nervous system has two components. First, the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for triggering the fight or flight response, tells the body to get out of danger.
The parasympathetic nervous system signals the body that it's time to calm down because everything is okay.
Studies show that the effect of grounding on the human body regulates the correct functioning of the nervous system and influences the brain's electrical activity. 3
Strong emotions such as fear or anger cause epinephrine (otherwise known as adrenaline) to be released into the bloodstream. Adrenaline then triggers an increase in heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure, and sugar metabolism to help your body react in times of danger.
Our bodies need cortisol to control blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and regulate metabolism. Without cortisol, we cannot survive. If we have too little cortisol, we may experience low stress tolerance. Also, the blood sugar levels may drop, causing hypoglycemia.
On the other hand, too much cortisol (a more common problem), and we will likely overreact to everyday stressors. Too much cortisol is possibly responsible for road rage in many drivers.
Being grounded helps the body to regulate stress hormones and improves the function of the autonomic nervous system. In one study, researchers found that grounding improved Vagal Tone in preterm infants. This is important to note because low vagal tone is a marker of vulnerability to stress.
The vagus nerve is the largest in the autonomic nervous system. It is responsible for telling your body to relax after a stressful encounter. The strength of your vagal nerve will indicate how well you deal with stress. The weaker your vagal tone, the more vulnerable you will be to stress, which may lead to chronic inflammation.
The vagus nerve controls the function of your autonomic nervous system. Vagal tone and heart rate variability is one way to measure how well the system functions. Ideally, the system should remain in balance. Still, chronic stress can cause our sympathetic nervous system to switch into overdrive, throwing off the balance of adrenaline and cortisol.
Cortisol levels follow a natural production rhythm; when they are imbalanced, disfunction follows. Lack of sleep, anxiety, and depression may follow. One study found that people with anxiety often had low morning cortisol levels.
Earthing helps to stabilize and balance cortisol levels, which in turn resets your circadian rhythms and leads to improved sleep hygiene, improved energy levels, and less anxiety.
“In patients who experience anxiety, emotional stress, panic, fear, and/or symptoms of autonomic dystonia, including headaches, cardiac palpitations, and dizziness, Grounding could be a very realistic therapy. These patients may see positive effects most likely within 20 to 30 minutes and in almost all cases in 40 minutes.” 12
Depression and Mood
Not surprisingly, studies show improved mood after being grounded, even using an Earthing mat, for only one hour. Emotional stress can take a toll on you, especially if you do not practice relaxation techniques. Using Grounding as a way to relax, unwind, and get a dose of vitamin Earth, you could experience less depression and improved mood.
Improved Circulation, Warmth, and Rosier Cheeks
My mom is very petite and gets cold easily. A few days after starting to sleep on her Earthing mat, she started noticing that she was warmer and not feeling chilled as often. A few weeks later, I read, “Grounding often generates warmth in the extremities and body as a result of better circulation.”
Because I've struggled with low iron levels, my skin, especially my face, appeared very white. After sleeping on a grounding mat for a few weeks, I had a zoom call with a colleague who commented, “you have a rosy glow, have you been to the beach?” To which I replied, “Nope, I've just been grounded!”
Others have noticed a marked improvement in skin as well. My friend Sarah Laucks shared the health benefits of grounding that she experiencd.
Within six weeks of Grounding I started to notice a change in the skin on my hands. The skin was becoming smoother, less red, and more full. My nails, which were heavily ridged from the anemia (more on that below), were also smoothing out – not as they grew out, but the entire nail bed was smoothing out. At first, my husband said ‘no way.' But within the next month he had to admit my skin all over my body was changing – for the better. It was like I was getting younger. People constantly comment on how much my skin is improving.Sarah Laucks
Improved Red Blood Cells and Reversing Iron Deficiency Anemia
I mentioned Sarah who had shared her story with me. She also shared information with me about how she recovered from iron-deficiency anemia using Earthing mats and taking organ supplements (liver and spleen.)
I resolved my iron-deficient anemia by September 2017, just six months after it was diagnosed. My hematologist was so surprised he wanted to know exactly what I'd done.Sarah Laucks
If you experience anemia, you will want to read her story here.
Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Because of its ability to lower inflammatory markers, improve circulation and heart rate variability, earthing may also reduce heart attack or stroke risk.
Cardiovascular disease is believed to be linked to poor heart rate variability in the nervous system.
According to this study, forty minutes of being grounded improves heart rate variability significantly.
“Grounding increases the surface charge on [red blood cells] RBCs and thereby reduces blood viscosity and clumping. Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events.” 12
Studies have not been conducted on the effects of grounding on blood pressure, but anecdotal reports suggest patients who use blood thinners (medication) will need to have clotting times monitored if they begin to spend more time grounding. This is because Grounding thins the blood and reduces clotting.
The side effects of taking blood thinners could be eliminated if cardiologists were to study the impact of grounding on blood flow. Cardiovascular diseases and many other chronic diseases that affect public health are major factors in the high cost of health care. Imagine if more pilot studies were done to prove the healing energy of direct contact with the Earth.
Improved Bone Density
Our bodies require certain minerals to maintain healthy bones. When we are deficient in these minerals, such as calcium, we end up with brittle bones. This leaves many people at risk for osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractured or broken bones.
One study looked at how Grounding affects the mineral levels of the blood. Eighty-four test subjects were split into groups where some received earthing while the others received “sham-earthing” or the equivalent of a placebo effect.
After eight hours of sleep, the true earthing group had decreased serum calcium levels, phosphorus, and iron.
After sleeping earthed for eight hours, those in the earthing group had decreased serum levels of all three minerals. This is thought to be due to a decrease in excretion by the kidneys while earthing overnight.
Reduced Pain, Chronic Inflammation, and Immune Response
One of the most important health benefits for those with chronic pain. Being in direct contact with the Earth appears to reduce acute and chronic inflammation due to the introduction of free electrons absorbed into the body.
“Reduction in inflammation as a result of earthing has been documented with infrared medical imaging and with measurements of blood chemistry and white blood cell counts.” 4
Being grounded and absorbing free electrons from the Earth can potentially neutralize the excess free radicals in the body, stopping immune response so the body can return to its normal state.
Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth's negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems. Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth's potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion”~ Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human
Better Workouts, Less Muscle Damage, and Delayed Soreness
My mom is already a pretty spunky little lady. She rides her bike, takes walks, goes to concerts late at night, and lives a very full and fun life. I had to ask her not to ride her scooter any more after she hit a hole in the road that sent her flying over the handlebars, resulting in a fractured patella a few years ago.
She makes an effort to do some fitness activity every day, has a stationary bike in her living room, and plays Wii Fit! Her yard is beautiful. She regularly works in it, cleaning stuff out of the stream, raking leaves, mowing, growing flowers, and tomatoes.
Even so, she noticed that she had MORE energy than usual after sleeping grounded. A few weeks after she started, I'd get texts from her or screenshots showing her step count for the day. One day she shared a screenshot of her steps for the day: 9,980 with a text that said, “I really walked more steps than that because I didn't have my phone with me all the time.”
Delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS was the subject of a Pilot Study that concluded that the effect was significant enough to warrant further research.
Good for pets
Of course, it makes sense that animals will also experience the health benefits of grounding.
The Earthing mat I have underneath my desk is a popular napping spot for my cat and dog. Both of them seem to sense something good about being in contact with this mat; it's like they're drawn to it. I speculate that the mat gives them a sense of well-being, somewhat like they experience when they nap under a tree in the yard.
Many people have shared testimonials about how their pets have regained mobility after grounding. Some say it has extended the lifespan of their pet.
How Quickly Does Grounding Work?
Speaking from my personal experience and feedback from my mom, the effects were immediate.
When I woke up the first morning after sleeping grounded, I was astonished. Not only was it later than usual, but when I looked at my sleep tracker, it said I had 100% sleep efficiency! See the screenshot below:
From what I've read, most people feel better right away.
They sleep better. Have more energy and less pain. But some individuals can feel temporary symptoms of detoxification as the body starts to function more efficiently.~ Earthing Institute
My home office is where I first started using an earthing mat; one under my bare feet and one under my arms as I type. The first thing I noticed was that I stopped feeling excruciatingly sleepy around mid-afternoon. Before using grounding mats, I would get so tired around 2 p.m. that I would sometimes take a 15-minute power nap. Since I added the mats, I haven't had to take a nap.
I also noticed a reduction in pain levels in my neck, shoulders, and wrists during work. My stress levels seemed more manageable, as well.
When I ordered the earthing mats for my office, it came with a book, magazine, and a DVD documentary about Earthing. Since I don't have a DVD player, I took the documentary to my mom's house to watch with her. Coincidentally, that night my daughter and I camped out (on the ground) in her back yard.
Living on the third floor of an apartment complex surrounded by asphalt, I rarely have the opportunity to walk barefoot on the Earth's surface. Noticing the benefit from being grounded during my work hours, I was eager to see what would happen if I slept grounded. After watching the documentary, my mom (as usual) was game, so we ordered two sleeping mats.
After her first night, my mom text me that she felt great when she woke up and had no neck pain. Over the next week, I continued to get texts from her saying she had more energy and was in a better mood.
Later, when I mentioned our results to my adult son, he suggested that it was a placebo effect and that it was in our heads. I relayed this idea to my mom, to which we both agreed that even if it was all in our head, the results were worth it!
Another morning, my mom text me, “I believe it starts in my mind, making me feel better and then makes me want to get up and make my body do stuff. lol Can't describe it.” Her sentiment was relatable! I noticed myself being in a better mood for an entire week, even though it was the days of my cycle that usually make me feel moody and sad.
I thanked her for always being willing to try new things and for being my guinea pig in all my health endeavors over the last 30 years! Her response, “Well, I'm up for trying new things and if it helps – YAY, and if it don't, at least I tried!”
If only more people had that attitude!
If you have any questions or would like to chat about this article, I'd love to hear from you. Reach out to me at [email protected] or join the Healthologist community.
2 The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress3 The neuromodulative role of earthing Sokal P, Sokal K – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21856083/
4 Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface ElectronsGaétan Chevalier, Stephen T. Sinatra, James L. Oschman, Karol Sokal, and Sokal P https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/
5 Perspective: assume a spherical cow: the role of free or mobile electrons in bodywork, energetic and movement therapies https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19083655/
6 Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18047442/
7 Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? By Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, Martin Zucker
8 Electrical Grounding Improves Vagal Tone in Preterm Infants https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5542808/
9 Clinical anxiety, cortisol and interleukin-6: Evidence for specificity in emotion–biology relationships https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4361085/
10 Chevalier GMori KOschman JLThe effect of earthing (Grounding) on human physiologyEur Biol Bioelectromagnetics2006January600621.18. Chevalier G, Mori K, Oschman JL. The effect of earthing (Grounding) on human physiology. Eur Biol Bioelectromagnetics 2006, January:600–621. Google Scholar
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12 Emotional Stress, Heart Rate Variability, Grounding, andImproved Autonomic Tone: Clinical ApplicationsGaétan Chevalier, PhD; Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, FACN, CNS https://www.earthing-vitalite.org/wp-content/uploads/Stress-emotionnel-variabilite-de-la-frequence-cardiaque-earthing-grounding-connexion-a-la-terre-recherche-medicale-sur-la-sante-etudes-scientifiques.pdf
14 – Pilot Study Brown, Dick et al. “Pilot study on the effect of grounding on delayed-onset muscle soreness.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 16,3 (2010): 265-73. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0399