Is it OK to Sleep on a Recliner?

Though most of us will find ourselves slipping off to sleep in our recliner chairs at the end of a long day (especially if our favorite TV show is on) and then heading up to bed when we finally wake up, some people prefer to sleep in a recliner chair permanently.

Generally speaking, sleeping in a recliner chair is considered to be safe and even a better option for some people, although this isn’t the case for everyone. If you’re considering swapping out your bed for a recliner chair, we recommend talking to your doctor who will be able to give you sound advice for you and your personal circumstances.

However, let’s take a look at some of the benefits that choosing to sleep in a recliner chair may bring:

It can help alleviate symptoms of acid reflux

One of the biggest benefits of sleeping on a recliner chair is that it can help to alleviate the main symptoms of acid reflux. For many people who suffer from acid reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle doesn’t close completely while digesting food, which can lead to heartburn.

Symptoms of acid reflux can increase while laying down at night because gravity stops pushing the contents of your stomach away from the esophagus. For this reason, sleeping on a recliner chair can be extremely beneficial to people who struggle with this condition, as you’ll be able to sleep comfortably without laying completely flat.

It can reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea

Another way that a recliner chair can improve sleep is by reducing the main symptoms of sleep apnea. People who suffer from this type of sleep disorder experience blocked airways from the muscles in the throat relaxing during sleep. This can cause snoring and disrupted sleep.

According to many studies, head elevation during sleep can help to ease the main symptoms of sleep apnea while also helping to improve the overall quality of sleep. For this reason, sleeping in a recliner chair can be very beneficial to improving the sleep quality of people who suffer from this particular sleep condition.

It can help to alleviate back pain

Many people that suffer from back pain find that sleeping in a recliner chair is very helpful and can improve the quality of their sleep.

As there’s not a whole lot of research to support this claim, we recommend talking to your doctor for advice, especially as sleeping in a recliner chair for long periods of time can cause lower back pain.

Does sleeping in a recliner hurt you?

Though sleeping in a recliner chair is generally considered to be ok, there are some potential risks that you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at some of them:

It may cause breathing problems

Depending on the angle at which you recline your chair if your upper back becomes hunched over it could lead to a block of the airway to your lungs, which could easily become a dangerous situation.

Additionally, sleeping in a reclined position on your chair could also cause blood to become congested in your lungs, which may reduce the amount of oxygen that you are able to properly breathe in. For these reasons, it may be a good idea to consult your doctor before deciding to regularly sleep in a recliner chair, especially if you suffer from lung problems. 

It may cause stiff joints

Another problem that can potentially occur from sleeping in a recliner chair is joint stiffness. This is because, when you sleep in a reclining position, it can often mean that your knees and hips will remain in a bent position throughout the night.

Therefore, if you sleep in this position regularly, it might cause you to experience aches, pains, and tight muscles in your lower body, including your hips.

It may cause deep vein thrombosis

Though the risk of developing this condition is relatively rare, there is still research that suggests that deep vein thrombosis can be at risk of developing when joints are bent and motionless for long periods of time.

Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in one of your deep veins, and it can be potentially life-threatening. Deep vein thrombosis also usually occurs in the leg area, which is why it can be caused by sleeping in a recliner chair, where your legs will be bent and motionless for hours on end each night.

To prevent this from occurring, many people choose to wear compression socks that can help control blood flow, although it’s always best to consult the guidance of a doctor, too.

How can I make my recliner more comfortable to sleep in?

If you like to sleep in a recliner chair, there are plenty of ways that you can make it more comfortable for you throughout the night. The easiest and quickest way to make your recliner chair more comfortable for sleep is to add cushions!

If you are currently shopping around for a new recliner chair specifically for sleeping in, then we recommend trying to find one that offers lumbar support or, in other words, a decent headrest. However, if you already have a recliner chair that doesn’t have this - there’s no need to worry.

A great alternative is to purchase some pillows that can be placed underneath you to make sure you stay supported throughout the night and to ensure you feel as comfortable as can be. For optimum comfort and support, you should keep a pillow positioned under your lower back, neck, and even between your knees.

Is it OK to sleep in a recliner every night?

Though sleeping in a recliner regularly is generally considered to be totally safe, we do recommend that you reach out to your doctor and ask them for further information on whether or not it might be a good idea for you. 

Some people find that sleeping in a recliner chair is better than sleeping in a bed every night because it can help them sleep better, whether that be from relieving sleep apnea symptoms, helping to support back pain, or even just down to the fact that a recliner chair feels more comfortable than sleeping in bed.

However, sleeping in a reclining chair can put you at risk of developing certain health problems (such as aching joints) so, if you are planning on sleeping regularly in a recliner chair, make sure you consider do the following:

  • Make sure that you have plenty of blankets so that you will stay warm throughout the night, especially if you are planning on sleeping in the living room where you might encounter a draft.
  • If you have a leather recliner chair, make sure that you put a bedsheet over the top of it, otherwise, you might find that you sweat.
  • Make sure that you have pillows for your neck, back, and lower legs.
  • Consider wearing compression socks to help prevent blood from pooling in your feet/lower legs.

Why do I sleep better in my recliner than in my bed?

There are plenty of reasons why you are finding that you sleep better in a recliner chair than in your bed. Generally speaking, recliner chairs are a piece of furniture that is designed to be super comfortable and ergonomic to sit in for long periods of time, such as while watching tv - which might be the main reason why you always find yourself taking naps at the end of the day, or while catching up on your favorite show!  

In addition to that, another reason why you might be finding that you’re sleeping better in a recliner chair is that they can help to alleviate feelings of sleep apnea, as well as help to keep airways unblocked. Besides that, recliner chairs can help to prevent the main symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn, as the tilted position you are in while sitting in a recliner chair means that gravity will keep pushing the contents of your stomach downwards, rather than upwards which can cause heartburn.

Besides offering a myriad of health benefits, though, you might just find that recliner chairs are more comfortable for you and your body. This can be especially down to the fact that many recliner chairs are designed to help promote correct spinal alignment, which can bring about a whole host of benefits including better moods, reduced headaches, and even back relief!