Surprising Benefits Of Sleeping In A Recliner

Most of us have done it at some point — we grab a good book or turn on a TV show and then get comfortable on the recliner, ready to relax and unwind before bed. Hours later, we wake up, realize we haven't read or watched anything much, and either drag our tired bodies off to bed or go back to sleep right where we are. You can set the guilt aside. It turns out there may be some benefits to sleeping on the comfiest chair in the house after all.

For certain people, like those who suffer from sleep apnea, nighttime heartburn, sinus congestion, and for women in their second or third trimesters of pregnancy, sleeping on a recliner might actually be preferable to sleeping in bed (via Healthline). In those cases, since the recliner helps keep the upper body upright and the airways open, the recliner may provide a more comfortable sleep than it would be possible to have lying down in bed. One 2017 study found that elevating the head and/or upper body significantly decreased symptoms for sleep apnea patients.

Sleeping in bed offers more room to move

On the other hand, being in the recliner is not the best sleep position for everyone. Even though it's considered generally safe (if it wasn't, most of us would be in trouble!), there can be potential problems if you make a habit out of it. When we sleep in a horizontal position, our spinal columns, which have been compressed all day while we sat and stood upright, have a chance to decompress and rest. That's not so much the case when we're sleeping in a reclined position, which is why, according to Help and Wellness, sleeping in a recliner long-term can lead to back pain.

Also, since there's not as much room to move and stretch out on a recliner, our joints are more likely to become stiff, and blood circulation may be reduced. Sue Noethen, a licensed physical therapist assistant, told Healthy Living News, "If you can, sleep in your bed. Continual sleeping in a recliner can result in knee and hip contractures. That is the tightening of the muscles over the joint which can limit upright posture and standing. Those contractures can throw off your center of balance and increase the risk of a fall." So while sleeping in a recliner from time to time might be beneficial, especially for people with certain conditions, you might just want to stick with your mattress.