why do people rub their feet together

Why do people rub their feet together – 3 Reasons Identified

Why do people rub their feet together? If you do this or wonder why people do this, discover the scientifically identified reasons by reading this blog.


Have you ever wondered why do people rub their feet together? Recently, this question created a lot of buzz among social media users. So, here we are with the probable reasons as to what causes people to their feet together.


The tendency to rub the feet together can be either out of habit or due to an underlying physiological disorder. But whichever reason is causing the urge to rub the feet together, it will ultimately lead to sleep disturbances.

3 reasons possibly explain why do people rub their feet together

Explore the reasons below as to why you or other people have a tendency to rub their feet together while trying to get some sleep.


Reason 1: Out of habit or a self-stimulating behaviour

If you are wondering why do people rub their feet together while falling asleep, you will be surprised to know that it could be purely out of habit and unintentional.

Rubbing feet together may not be linked to any sort of physiological disorder. Most of the time, people don’t even notice that they are rubbing their feet if it is a self-stimulating behaviour. People have different kinds of stim like rubbing feet together, biting nails, sucking thumb, and more.


When people rub their feet together, they are simply trying to soothe themselves by creating the effect of close touch as it naturally relaxes the mind and body.

However, autistic people can sometimes also be in the habit of rubbing their feet together or demonstrating other repetitive behaviours. It might be their way to subconsciously cope with a situation.

Reason 2: Sleep disorder

Although rubbing feet together might just be a harmless habit, it may not always be so. Rubbing feet together while falling sleeping can also be indicative of an underlying disorder known as Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD).

What is PLMD?

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is characterized by involuntary movement of the lower limbs, particularly the toes and ankles but can sometimes include the knees and hips too. It typically occurs during non-REM sleep but is still known to disrupt the night sleep of the affected individual. This in turn makes the individual feel drowsy and tired during the daytime. PLMD is usually experienced by elderly people above the age of 60 years.


PLMD risk factors

  • Narcolepsy
  • Neuropathy
  • Iron deficiency
  • Medications like antihistamines and antidepressants.

Treatment & Prevention

  • Treatment with medications like Ropinirole and Pramipexole.
  • Iron supplements
  • Physiotherapy and exercises
  • Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and antihistamine avoidance.

Reason 3: Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome could be another cause behind why do people rub their feet together.

What is RLS?

Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, RLS is characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs and sometimes even the arms or other body parts. People with RLS experience sensations like pulling, tugging, creeping, itching, throbbing, crawling, burning, etc. RLS can occur in people of any age group; however, it is a common occurrence in women compared to men.

Symptoms include leg or arm discomfort, urge to move the limbs, sleep disturbance, daytime drowsiness, and performance problems.

Though RLS is similar to PLMD in some aspects, it is a completely different condition. About 80% to 90% of individuals with RLS also have PLMD but not vice-versa.


The major difference between PLMD and RLS is that RLS can occur while the individual is awake and at any time during the day. Also, people with RLS are aware of limb movement unlike those with PLMD.

RLS risk factors

  • Genetic factors
  • Iron deficiency
  • Uremia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Depression
  • Parkinsonism
  • Renal disorders & dialysis
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-nausea
  • Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol intake.

Treatment & Prevention

  • Treatment with Dopamine antagonists like Ropinirole, Pramipexole, and Rotigotine patch.
  • Treatment with anti-seizure medications like Gabapentin, Pregabalin, Enacarbil and Benzodiazepines, Clonazepam, etc.
  • Iron and magnesium supplements
  • Exercise
  • Inculcating healthy sleeping habits and reducing stress.
  • Limiting intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, chocolates, etc.
  • Trying heating pads, cold compress, acupressure, and other relaxation techniques.


So, the above reasons do shed light upon why do people rub their feet together. You can now share this knowledge with your friends and family if anyone among them is in the habit of rubbing their feet together.


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FAQs – Why do people rub their feet together?

Why do people rub their feet together just as they are falling asleep?

Numerous reasons can cause people to rub their feet together while they are trying to fall asleep. The reasons leading to this action might be habitual or due to some underlying disorder.


Why do I unintentionally start rubbing my feet against the bedsheet while falling asleep?

People would sometimes rub their feet unintentionally while falling asleep out of habit or due to some physical or sleep disorder. Refer to the above blog to understand the reasons in detail. 

Why do babies rub their feet together?

Babies might rub their feet while falling asleep to feel comfortable. However, if babies rub their feet together and simultaneously cry, then it indicates that they are feeling uncomfortable or hungry.

Is rubbing feet together a stim?

Yes, it can be a self-stimulating factor. People have several kinds of stim such as listening to the same song several times, sucking thumb, rubbing feet together, fidgeting, rocking the leg while sitting, and more.


Also Read: Why Do Blind People Wear Sunglasses – An Expert Take


Snigdha is a technical content writer professionally with an academic background in pharmaceutical sciences. She took up content creation to explore her passion for writing.


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