What Are Sleep Grounding Sheets, and Why Are People Plugging Their Bedding Into the Wall?

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Hold onto your sleep masks, SleepTok is stirring up controversy yet again. As if nose taping, bed rotting, and hurkle-durkling weren’t enough, another trend is promising to solve your sleep troubles and more. But this time, it’s not about what you’re doing in your bed but what you’re sleeping on.

Grounding or earthing sheets plug into the wall and connect you to the Earth’s natural electrical energy while you sleep. Although grounding sheets are relatively new to TikTok, their origins, the science (or the lack of it), and the supposed wellness benefits of grounding have been around for a while. As with any hyped-up social media trend, it’s wise to examine the potential safety concerns and what the research has to say. 

The Grounding Trend on Social Media

As part of a broader sleep grounding craze, the grounding sheet trend began with a few posts showcasing sheets that plug into the wall and their supposed benefits, which quickly gained attention, at least in part because of its bizarreness. As more people began to share their experiences with grounding sheets, the trend grew, and influencers jumped on the bandwagon, increasing the trend’s popularity further. 

“When you lay on these sheets, you are quite literally connected to the earth,” says poster Nicole Hohenstein. (1) “So much healing can come from being grounded,” she adds. One video with over 3 million views claims you’ll sleep more soundly, have better moods, workout recovery, blood flow, a stronger immune system, and improved digestion, among other benefits.

What Is Grounding?

Grounding, also known as earthing, is a concept rooted in the belief that direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth can affect human health. The theory suggests that this contact, whether walking barefoot on the ground or sleeping on a grounding sheet, can lead to positive physiological changes and significant health benefits.

According to the Journal of Inflammation Research, the grounding concept is based on the understanding that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. (2) The Earth’s surface is electrically conductive and is maintained at a negative potential by a global electrical circuit. This environment ensures that a steady supply of electrons is available to the human body when in direct contact with the Earth’s surface.

Grounding sheets are designed to provide this connection to the Earth’s electrons indoors. They are typically made of conductive materials, such as silver or carbon fiber, which are woven into the fabric, and most of the videos on TikTok recommend 95 percent cotton and 5 percent silver sheet composition. The sheet connects to the ground port of an electrical outlet via a cord, which allows the sheet and the person sleeping on it to maintain a connection with the Earth’s electrical energy.

If this sounds scary, it’s worth noting that the grounding plug does not connect to the outlet’s live electricity supply, so there is no risk of electrocution. The plug only connects to the ground port, which is connected to a rod in the ground outside the building, providing a direct link to the Earth’s natural electrical state.

The Science Behind Grounding

According to its proponents on social media, grounding sheets are a cure-all for various health issues, supposedly stemming from the body’s exposure to the Earth’s natural electrical energy.

Among the most common benefit claims are that they reduce inflammation, stress, and chronic pain, improve mood, sleep quality, and energy levels, and lower blood pressure.

It’s tempting to believe something so natural-sounding and wholesome is the answer to so many health concerns, but the concept of grounding is not without controversy. The scientific community is pretty divided on its effectiveness, with some studies suggesting potential benefits and others pointing out the need for more rigorous research, especially with larger and more thorough testing groups.

For instance, a pilot study published in Healthcare that involved a 12-week placebo-controlled trial of 22 patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease found that grounding significantly improved sleep quality scores compared to the placebo group. (3) Another study, “The Effect of Earthing Mat on Stress-Induced Anxiety-like Behavior and Neuroendocrine Changes in the Rat,” found that earthing mats reduced anxiety-like behavior and learned helplessness behavior in rats. (4)

While promising, these studies have obvious limitations, such as the small sample sizes and lack of human testing. Studies done on specific populations (patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease and rats) also mean the results may not apply to the general population.

Dr. Chad Orzel, a professor of physics at Union College in Schenectady, NY, says there needs to be more concrete evidence supporting the benefits of grounding. He points out that the explanation of electron transfer from the Earth to the human body doesn’t make sense from a scientific point of view. 

“Electrons are electrons, and there is no significant difference between an electron that comes straight from the Earth and one that comes from any other synthetic material,” he says in an article he wrote on the topic. He also explains that while there is an interaction between our bodies and the Earth’s electrons, it doesn’t last long enough to have any lasting effect.

There are many anecdotal claims that grounding really works for some people, which shouldn’t necessarily be ignored. However, it’s worth noting that it’s impossible to determine what’s actually helpful and what is a placebo effect when it comes to health products without enough science to support their use.

Potential Safety Concerns

While grounding sheets and other grounding products are generally considered safe to use, there are a few potential safety concerns to be aware of. The most obvious is to ensure correct installation. Only plug the grounding cord into the ground port of an electrical outlet, not the live electricity supply, or you could get an electric shock. People with certain health conditions requiring a pacemaker or other electronic medical devices should consult a healthcare professional before trying grounding products.

  • 1. Hohenstein, Nicole; @nicole_hohenstein;  https://www.tiktok.com/@nicole_hohenstein/video/7299200731473546539?q=%23groundingsheets&t=1710535207316; November 8, 2023.

  • 2. Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015 Mar 24;8:83-96. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S69656. PMID: 25848315; PMCID: PMC4378297.

  • 3. Lin C-H, Tseng S-T, Chuang Y-C, Kuo C-E, Chen N-C. Grounding the Body Improves Sleep Quality in Patients with Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Study. Healthcare. 2022; 10(3):581. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10030581

  • 4. Park HJ, Jeong W, Yu HJ, Ye M, Hong Y, Kim M, Kim JY, Shim I. The Effect of Earthing Mat on Stress-Induced Anxiety-like Behavior and Neuroendocrine Changes in the Rat. Biomedicines. 2022 Dec 26;11(1):57. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines11010057. PMID: 36672565; PMCID: PMC9855809.

  • Orzel, Chad. Author interview. March 2024.

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson, BA, is a CPT, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Exercise Nutrition Specialist, Certified Pre/Post-Partum Fitness Trainer, and Pain-Free Performance Specialist. She's passionate about providing readers with straightforward, actionable tips to make living an active, vibrant, fulfilling life easier. When she's not writing, you can find her lifting heavy things, reading, exploring outdoors, or watching the newest iteration of the Star Wars Universe. She lives with her family and pets in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada.

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