7 Reasons To Try Sleeping With Legs Elevated

Written by in Sleep Health

Quick Overview

Has anyone ever told you to “Relax and put your feet up” after a long day? Well, we take that expression very seriously!
If you find that your legs and feet after a day of work are so swollen and painful that you hardly recognize them, there’s a simple solution you need to try. It will make your legs and feet instantly feel better and help you get the good night’s sleep you crave…

A Simple Fix that can Make All the Difference

Wondering what the secret is? Try elevating your legs during sleep! All you have to do is raise your legs and feet six to twelve inches above the heart while you’re sleeping on your back and wait for the health benefits to come flowing in. You can use a pillow, a bolster, an adjustable bed, or a folded thick blanket to achieve the desired leg elevation. This supine position with elevation is ideal when sleeping because it takes the pressure off the veins in your legs, reduces inflammation, helps with leg pain and back pain, and can even aid insomnia. Discover why we prefer this sleeping position and all the benefits to expect from elevating your legs.

Why Sleep with Legs Elevated?

So, what does sleeping with legs elevated do? There’s a science behind this position is beneficial to your body. Walking around all day means the fluids in the body are mainly flowing in one direction: down. Gravity and the flow of circulation cause the blood in your legs and feet to pool at the bottom, creating a buildup of fluid that is very uncomfortable. Doctors refer to this type of temporary, common inflammation as edema. [1]

When standing for long periods of time, the muscles in your feet and legs don’t contract, which stalls blood flow and also results in swelling. This, of course, is why anyone trying on shoes at a shoe store should do so at the end of the day, to make sure that the new shoes are big enough to withstand the size of the foot at its most swollen. Foot and leg swelling can be exacerbated by being overweight, elderly, and pregnant. If you have leg and foot swelling only on one side and not the other, you should see a doctor as this could be a sign of something more serious that overused limbs.

7 Benefits of Sleeping with Legs Up

Sometimes, it’s the simple, small things that make the biggest difference when it comes to your health and sleep. While sitting for extended periods of time or sleeping at night, raising your legs and feet can aid with various issues that may be holding you back from doing things you love during the day. Below, discover some of the top benefits of elevating the legs.

1. Sleeping with Legs Elevated Improves Blood Circulation

Sleep is so important to your health and wellbeing. While you’re sleeping, your body is doing its best to relax and repair muscles, strengthen the immune system, regulate hormones, and circulate blood, among other important functions. Proper blood flow after a day of walking around or standing is crucial to let your body heal overnight. Take advantage of the hours in slumber by propping up your legs and feet so that the blood can circulate properly throughout your system. As a result, you’ll wake up with legs and feet that aren’t swollen and feel light on your feet and ready to face the day.

2. Leg Elevation Removes Pressure on your Leg Veins 
If you’re starting to notice the veins in your legs, it’s a sign of poor circulation. Now’s the time to pay attention to how you are sitting and sleeping. Elevating the legs during sleep will allow the blood that is filling the veins to flow regularly. This will relieve pressure, make your legs and feet feel much better and prevent the veins from bulging any further, becoming varicose veins, or turning into Deep Vein Thrombosis. [2]

3. Sleeping with the Legs Up Reduces the Appearance of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are large, unsightly, twisted, often blue or black veins that usually form on the legs, feet, and backs of the knees. They are caused faulty valves in the veins, which block blood from flowing in the correct direction and cause the veins to stretch and bulge. It’s a common problem for many; over 23% of adults and one in four adult Americans will be affected by varicose veins in their lifetime. [3]

If you sleep with your legs elevated or in zero gravity sleeping position, it will not completely rid you of varicose veins, but it can regulate circulation and help prevent more varicose veins from forming. Once you have varicose veins, elevating the legs can still be beneficial as a means of reducing the stress put on the lower half of your body. By helping the blood flow properly through the body, the pressure put on the veins is reduced and the swelling will be diminished.

4. It Can Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis occurs when there is a blood clot located deep within a vein in the body, generally in the lower extremities like the legs, thighs, or pelvis. The blood clot can then travel to the heart, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. You have a higher risk of developing DVT if you have had major surgery, a bad injury, suffered a heart failure, or had cancer. By choosing the proper sleep position with your legs in an elevated position, you are encouraging good circulation through your blood vessels, which can prevent DVT from occurring.

5. Sleeping with Legs Elevated Sciatica Benefits

The sciatic nerve in the back is the longest nerve in the body, which makes taking care of it is a must. If you suffer from back pain, it is likely that your sciatic nerve is compressed, irritated, or otherwise inflamed, which can lead to pain in the back, legs, and feet as well as numbness and other symptoms. Instead of lying flat at night, try sleeping with your knees elevated, either with a setting on your adjustable bed or by placing a pillow underneath your legs. This allows the curve of the spine to be in a neutral position that will alleviate the pressure put on the sciatic nerve by the lumbar discs in your back.

6. It Works to Improve Your Spinal Alignment

Sleeping with the legs up is much better for your spinal alignment and can actually help improve your posture during the day as you won’t suffer from the pain you normally feel. Whether you have a temporary backache from pulling a muscle or suffer from medical conditions like a herniated or slipped disc, scoliosis, and even arthritis, sleeping with the knees elevated alleviates excess tension on the body. You should not sleep on your stomach with neck or back pain as this position puts them out of alignment and strains the muscles and joints.

7. It Helps You Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Swollen legs and a painful back can keep you from falling asleep. To aid these issues, try sleeping on your back in a supine position with your knees elevated. This puts the head, neck, and spine in correct alignment and helps you get quality sleep. When the knees and feet are raised, the chances of lower back pain are eliminated as the position follows the natural curve of the body. You are in the proper position for circulation and a release of tension. When you’re more comfortable, you’re less likely to wake up in the middle of the night to sleep disturbances and will feel better rested the next day (for even more comfortable zzz’s, consider treating yourself to the next bit thing in the world of sleep: Yaasa Weighted Blankets!)

This position is also good if you have acid reflux; place an extra pillow under your head for the best results in alleviating heartburn.

Sleeping With Legs Elevated

Should You Sleep with Legs Elevated?

So, should you sleep with legs elevated? We think yes!

The incredible health benefits caused by sleeping with legs raised make this position well worth the effort. Elevating your legs is nothing new; you may have done it before in yoga classes or during a massage. However, if you haven’t, we implore you to try out this position and see how it can help with pain, the flow of blood, and your sleep. An adjustable bed makes it easy, but you can also makeshift a bolster with a pillow or blanket to reap the benefits of sleeping with the legs raised.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does sleeping with legs elevated help back pain?

Sleeping with the legs up is much better for your spinal alignment and can alleviate back pain. Whether you have a temporary backache from pulling a muscle or suffer from medical conditions like a herniated or slipped disc, scoliosis, and even arthritis, sleeping with the knees elevated prevents excess tension on the body.

How should you sleep with elevated feet?

There are several ways to elevate your feet while you sleep. The easiest is to use an adjustable bed to raise your feet six to twelve inches above the heart. You can also sleep with a pillow, bolster, or thick blanket underneath your feet to get the desired height, although these props can move around while you sleep.

How to elevate your legs while sleeping on your side?

When sleeping on your side, you can still elevate your legs with the help of an adjustable bed, bolster, or pillow. We also recommend that you slide a pillow between your legs to keep your spine in alignment in the side sleeping position.