Sliding into a warm bed after a long day is one of the best feelings in the world, isn’t it? I personally love cranking up the fan, surrounding myself with pillows, and listening to rain sounds to help me drift off. But in the moments between settling down and actually falling asleep, there’s something else that I—and many other people—subconsciously do: rub feet together. Also known as “cricket feet.”
It’s not something I actively think about, and I didn’t even realize I did it until the phenomena called “cricket feet” or “cricketing” became so popular on TikTok. (The term “cricket feet” has 99 billion views on the platform!) Although we don’t make music when we rub our feet together like our winged friends do, it does have a purpose.
“Physical movements, including this behavior, help relax the body when tired and stressed,” Lee Phillips, LCSW, CSAC, psychotherapist and certified sex and couples therapist, told Health in an interview published this month. It’s a self-soothing behavior, much like babies who suck their thumbs or little kids who sleep with lovies, and it can help regulate the nervous system, reduce anxiety or stress, and relax, according to Phillips. Pretty cool right?
Cricketing can also help people with neurodivergent disorders, like autism and ADHD, as it can be “soothing in reducing overstimulation,” according to Philips.
Michelle Di Paolo, founder and psychotherapist for Stress and Relaxation Services of America, told Sleepopolis in September that cricket feet is a self-stimulating movement like bouncing your knee or twirling your hair. “‘Cricket feet’ are perhaps a form of stimming, thus assisting in pre-sleep relaxation,” she explained.
“Hand warming (blowing into or rubbing one’s hands together) is a biofeedback technique, which research has shown activates the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in immediate cardiovascular relaxation and other stress hormone benefits,” she continued. “The same may be true with rubbing feet together, building warmth and stimulating parasympathetic dominance for relaxation.” The way our bodies work is simply fascinating!
This natural self-soothing technique can even be seen in babies. One mom on TikTok shared a video of her 4-month-old son rubbing his tiny little feet together. “When you realize your cricket feet passed down,” she wrote on the video, adding in her caption: “Ive [sic] done this for my entire life and now hes [sic] 4 months old doing the same #cricketfeet #adhdtiktok #adhdthings.”
The comments were full of support. “I do this all the time when I’m tired, trying to get comfy, or I’m super irritated and trying not to snap ,” one person wrote.
Another said, “awwwwwww at least you’re ready to help. I’ve only realized I’m ADHD after researching for my son, coz he’s hypo, I’m inattentive and masked.”
“I do this to go to sleep,” someone else said. The creator responded, “That’s what he was doing too.”
Cricketing may be a new-to-you term, but it is definitely not a new (or uncommon) behavior. And anything that can help us relieve stress in an easy, harmless way is a win! So cricket away, friends—and enjoy your much-needed rest.