Why Do I Sleep Better In A Recliner Than A Bed?

Written by in Sleep Health

Quick Overview

Have you ever wondered why do people sleep better in a recliner than a bed? If you have, you’re not alone. Many people who find it hard to fall asleep have traded their traditional beds for sleeping recliners. Even doctors suggest their patients suffering from varying health issues to get a lift chair recliner for a good night’s sleep.

What is the science behind the recliner? Does it produce health benefits? Let’s look further into the mechanics and construction of a recliner chair to know why sleeping in it is more comfortable than a mattress.

The Science Behind The Perfect Sleep Chair

What Is A Recliner

Structure-wise, the recliner is built for pure comfort. It typically has cushioned armrests and headrests that automatically recline backward when you relax on the chair. You also have the choice of elevating your legs for comfort and proper blood flow by activating the cushioned footrest. It puts the person in a position that reduces stress on the body, particularly the spine. It’s understandable why people choose to fall asleep in it than walk to their beds.

Zero Gravity

Sleeping with the head slightly elevated than the legs and knees make breathing easier and relieve pressure from the spine, which can result in a well-rested night’s sleep. This sleep position is known as the “zero gravity” and has been found to benefit people suffering variously from sleep disorders, diseases, and aid in surgical recovery.

It’s difficult to achieve this on a flatbed. You can prop your upper body and legs on various pillows, but achieving the correct height can be difficult. Also, pillows can fall out of place with movement. The reclining chair and the adjustable bed are two pieces of furniture that can do it properly.

Health Benefits of a Recliner

Relieves Back Pain

Many people experience back pain at some point in their lives. For some, the pain is acute, for others it can become chronic. Aches and pains occur because the muscles in the back constantly work in balancing the upper and lower part of the body. By reclining the body, you take the pressure off from your spine and allow your core muscles to rest, healing and making them stronger in the process. The reclined sleeping position is better than the upright position because sitting up can still stress your muscles.

sleep better in a recliner than a bed

Aside from back pain, patients suffering from spinal issues such as the lumbar spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis can benefit from sleeping in a recliner or an adjustable bed. The reason is that elevating their head and knees can give them more comfortable and refreshing night’s rest when compared to sleeping in a flat mattress.

Reduces The Risk of Respiratory Problems

  • Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea is a hitch of breathing during sleep. It occurs when the tongue falls back blocking the windpipe. Sleep-related breathing problems such as sleep apnea can be helped by changing sleep positions, specifically with your head elevated. Investing in a lift recliner or an adjustable bed can result in a more comfortable sleep because these beds allow people to sleep in a semi-reclined position.

sleep better in a recliner than a bed

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a long-term respiratory problem. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are included in this description. The condition is not fully reversible and can be terminal. The sufferer experiences shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and mucus production. For these people, sleeping inclined, such as in a recliner or adjustable bed frame may be the only way they can experience sleep.
  • Reduces The Risk of Heartburn – Heartburn occurs when there is a release of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. A weak esophageal sphincter muscle can cause acid reflux. Heartburn worsens when sleeping in a horizontal position. People who suffer from acid reflux (heartburn) or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) may find increased comfort when sleeping on a recliner or an adjustable bed because the semi-reclined position keeps the stomach acid down.

sleep better in a recliner than a bed

Enhances Circulation

Research demonstrates that sitting too long can hurt your health. Sitting can adversely affect your cardiac status. It can raise your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and increase cholesterol. But, that’s not all.

Sitting also slows the blood flow in your legs, which can cause clots, edema (swelling) of the lower extremities, or increased muscle cramping. By sleeping in a recliner or an adjustable bed frame, you can elevate your lower legs, doing your heart and legs a favor.

Aids Pregnant Women

When you’re pregnant, falling asleep can be problematic, complicated, and sometimes very stressful. Some expectant mothers experience an increase in back pain and discomfort from the weight of their unborn child.

This can translate into a harder time getting comfortable in bed. While there is special support pillow for sleeping just so they can prevent tossing and turning, and get enough hours of snooze every night.

sleep better in a recliner than a bed

However, a lot of pregnant women also report being able to fall asleep and stay soundly asleep in a recliner or an adjustable bed. That’s because both sleeping furniture can allow pregnant women to rest in a sleep position that is compatible and beneficial to their changing body.

Helps Symptom Control

  • Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s Disease affects the inner ear. It can lead to periods of dizzy spells (vertigo) and hearing loss. The person can also experience a fullness or pressure in the ear. Many also complain of tinnitus. This is the perception of ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring or a whistling. Symptoms are sporadic.

People who experience Meniere’s Disease should be very cognizant of how they get in and out of bed. They need to move from laying to sitting to standing very slowly. Also, they can benefit from lying with their head elevated. For people with Meniere’s Disease sleeping in a recliner or on an adjustable bed frame can help immensely.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease and many other forms of dementia often disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. According to the National Sleep Foundation. It is hypothesized the loss of brain tissue that leads to the loss of mental abilities may also interfere with the sleep/wake cycle. [2] Although the connection is not clear, researchers suggest that sleeping in the lateral position can help remove waste products in the brain.[3] Also, some people who develop neurological problems may prefer to sleep in a recliner or an adjustable bed.

  • Helps With Surgical Healing

After some surgical procedures, sleeping in an inclined position is recommended. This is especially true for those who have had shoulder surgery, such as rotator cuff repair. For these patients, they must often sleep inclined for up to 6 weeks. Although they can prop themselves up on pillows, sleeping on a recliner is especially appreciated.

Why Do I Sleep Better In A Recliner Than A Bed?

Good blood circulation is crucial for a healthy body, as is restorative sleep. The correct sleep position can help with that. By maintaining a neutral spinal position, you allow your spine and the surrounding muscles to get some much-needed rest. Additionally, it’s good for the heart. It aids those that already have heart conditions but those who are at risk for developing them.

However, there is one occasion you should avoid a recliner. That is when you have a newborn and are doing nighttime feedings. Sitting in a comfortable recliner can lead a parent to fall asleep in the chair increasing the risk of accidental injury or death for the newborn.

If you find yourself tired during nighttime feedings, it’s best to sleep on a plain bed. Ensure there are no blankets or pillows nearby, thereby reducing the risk of accidental injury or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.)

Why do I sleep better in a recliner than a bed? Ultimately, the answer is because your body knows what’s best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to sleep in a recliner every night?

Possibly. Some doctors will recommend sleeping in a recliner to people with various conditions. If you need to elevate your upper body at night because of heartburn, back pain, or sleep apnea, a recliner can help you get a better night’s rest. Pregnant women can also sometimes sleep better with the help of a recliner.

Why does sleeping in recliner help back pain?

By reclining the body while you sleep, you take the pressure off from your joints and spine, relieving the tension felt in the back. You also allow your core muscles to rest, which will support their healing and becoming stronger.

How to tell if your bed is causing back pain?

If you wake up in the night or the morning with back pain, it is likely that lying flat is exacerbating your condition. Achieving a comfortable and supported position is often not possible on a flat bed, which is why many people turn to sleeping on a recliner or adjustable bed at night.