When you come home from a long day of work, all you can think of is sitting down and relaxing on your comfy recliner.
Sometimes your recliner is just oh so comfortable that you end up sleeping there. When you’re sunk into your chair, getting up and making your way to the bed can seem like a monumental task.
We know how that feels, but it makes you wonder whether sleeping in a recliner is actually bad for you.
Typically, sleeping in a recliner for prolonged periods every night is bad for you, whereas taking a short nap with your feet elevated could benefit you and lead to some great sleep.
In this post, we’ll explore some pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner and some precautions to consider if you plan on sleeping in one.
Is It OK to Sleep All Night in a Recliner?
It’s usually okay to take a short nap in a recliner but prolonged periods of sleep could have some negative effects on your health.
Sleeping in a recliner for a full night may not lead to the best quality of sleep. Also, since your knees and hips are bent for a long time it can cause muscle tightness and joint stiffness.
At the same time, some have the best sleep in a recliner, so the actual answer may be a bit complicated but there are some pros and cons to keep in mind when thinking about sleeping in a recliner.
What are the Negative Effects of Sleeping in a Recliner?
First, let’s look at the drawbacks of sleeping in a recliner.
When you’re laying down on a recliner your knees and hips are constantly bent. This can cause your legs to numb for a short time, which people refer to as their legs “falling asleep.”
This numbness is caused by putting pressure on one part of your body for a prolonged period. The pressure cuts off the connection between the limb and the brain and stiffens the joints.
In the short run, this can just be minor discomfort, but over time it can lead to poor posture.
Tightens Knee and Hip Muscles
If you have a habit of sleeping in your recliner, your muscles may tighten over time leading to leg and hip contractures. A contracture limits the mobility of your body and prevents you from moving normally.
This can lead to reduced movement of the limbs and even cause instability when you walk, making you lose your balance.
Reduced Quality of Sleep
A recliner may be the perfect place for a short nap but if you plan to pull an all-nighter it may actually be bad for you.
According to doctors, there are different stages of the sleep cycle a person goes through. The deepest sleep stage is known as REM sleep which stands for rapid eye movement.
During this period, there is an increase in brain activity, eye movement, and dreaming.
By sleeping in a recliner, you restrict your body to a smaller space than in a regular bed. This makes it difficult for you to fall into a deeper sleep, negatively affecting your quality of sleep.
Risk of Blood Clots
Laying down on a recliner for hours each night keeps your joints bent and your body motionless. This can lead to the development of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
DVT refers to a blood clot that develops in your deep veins which can turn into a dangerous health issue.
However, by positioning your recliner at a comfortable angle, you can reduce your risk of developing blood clots in your legs. Later in this article, we’ll discuss the best position to sleep in your recliner.
Reduce Proper Blood Circulation to Legs
Most of the issues we’ve discussed above relate to not getting proper blood circulation to your legs.
However, poor blood circulation is typically caused only when your legs are bent when sitting on a recliner.
A recliner can improve blood circulation to the legs if you elevate them and keep them straight on the footrest.
What are the Benefits of Sleeping in a Recliner?
Despite having a few drawbacks, there are many reasons sleeping in a recliner is good for you.
Relieves Back Pain
A study conducted in 2019 revealed that 39% of American adults experienced some kind of back pain in the past 3 months – the highest compared to any other type of pain.
With most people suffering from back pain, it can be a relief to know that sleeping in a recliner can improve back pain.
By laying in a recliner, you relieve some pressure off your spine and loosen the muscles of your back, allowing them to relax. Also, by elevating your feet, you allow blood to flow to your back which helps it heal quicker and become stronger.
However, when sleeping in a recliner, it’s necessary to choose the best recliner for back pain that has proper lumbar support and is comfortable to sit on.
Makes Breathing Easier
Sleeping in a recliner with the backrest pushed back and your legs elevated opens up your diaphragm, enabling you to breathe better.
This position has been shown to improve symptoms of multiple problems related to sleep apnea, heartburn, and GERD.
Also, since you’ll be breathing better, you’ll be able to sleep peacefully.
Ever wonder why sleeping in a recliner sometimes feels more relaxing than your bed?
Sleeping in a reclined position takes the pressure off your core muscles and allows them to relax. Also, due to the multiple reclining positions a recliner offers, you can find the right comfort level for you – which you can’t do with your bed.
Elevating your feet also removes the pressure off your joints and heals your overall nervous system.
Prevents Acid Reflux and Heartburn
People with acid reflux suffer from stomach acid making its way back up to their esophagus.
When there is a problem with the digestive tract between the esophagus and the stomach, the valve that connects the two doesn’t properly close after digesting food which results in a slight reflux of acid.
This acid also causes heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest due to the acid.
People commonly experience heartburn at night as lying down prevents your body from keeping stomach content away from your throat.
Sleeping in a recliner with your legs elevated could however help reduce symptoms of heartburn.
A 2012 study suggested that people with acid reflux who slept with their heads slightly elevated had a 65% decrease in sleep disturbances.
This makes a recliner the perfect replacement for people who want to sleep calmly at night without any disturbances caused by acid reflux.
Increase Blood Circulation
If you’ve constantly been on your feet the whole day, then it’s likely your body’s blood flow is mostly restricted to your legs and feet.
By elevating your feet you allow the blood to flow from your legs to the rest of your body. This improves blood circulation in your body, reduces inflammation, and eases stress.
How Do You Sleep Comfortably in a Recliner?
We’ve seen that sleeping in a recliner has a few negatives as well as some positives. However, to ensure a good night’s rest in your recliner, you should follow some of these best practices:
- If your recliner is made from leather, put a slipcover on it to prevent sweating
- Have proper support for your lumbar region. Use a lumbar support pillow to fill any gaps between your back and the chair.
- Elevate your legs in the air, slightly above heart level, by kicking open the footrest
- If you’re not elevating the footrest, wear compression socks to maintain proper blood circulation
Conclusion – Is Sleeping in a Recliner Bad for You?
Sleeping in a recliner is generally bad for you if you don’t properly adjust your reclining angle. A recliner has its pros and cons and when it comes to sleeping, some reports even suggest that sleeping in a recliner is better than sleeping on a bed.
It may be benefical for people with sleep apnea, acid reflux, and GERD, to sleep on a recliner as it’s known to improve symptoms.
To sleep comfortably on a recliner you should elevate your feet, ensure proper lumbar support, and find a comfortable reclining angle for a goodnight’s rest.