Drifting off in a recliner is easy.
It’s been a long day. You’ve been reading your favorite book, or you’re done with good TV and now watching the late night stuff.
You’re comfy. Relaxed. Eyes drooping…
Before you know it, you’ve drifted off into dream land.
Trying to sleep in a bed, though?
Oh man. You need to shake off the drowsiness, get up, brush teeth, sort things out, climb into bed, and lay there with a brain that is suddenly FULL of thoughts!
So is sleeping in a recliner really better than in a bed? Is it really possible to get a restful sleep in a recliner?
Those questions were really bugging me, so I’ve done into some research. In this article you’ll find all of the answers – including detailed comparisons and references to medical advice.
Sleeping on a Recliner vs a Bed – Summary:
Sleeping in a recliner is only better than a bed in certain conditions. Namely to stop specific sleep disorders and breathing issues. And for those hard of movement. Otherwise, sleeping in a recliner will give much worse sleep quality than a bed, and may cause knee, back, hip, and posture issues.
Ready to dive into the details? Let’s get started.
Sleeping on A Recliner – Is It Healthy?
The main attraction of a recliner is how easy it is to drift off to sleep. It usually happens without thinking.
But is it healthy?
Well, there’s two main advantages.
Advantage 1: No Heartburn
Heartburn is caused by your stomach acid leaking into your esophagus. This is normally closed off from your stomach, but it doesn’t fully close off for some people. Sleeping horizontally can then cause the acid to leak into your esaphagus and cause a strong acid-burn sensation.
Sleeping vertically stops this from happening. Our good friend gravity keeps the stomach acid where it should be – in your stomach.
Advantage 2: Relieved Breathing Issues
Anyone who’s looked into snoring and sleep apnea knows that it’s a case of your airways not being open enough for air to travel freely.
By sleeping in an elevated position, this prevents your airways from being compressed from the weight of your neck and pressure from the pillow.
It’s rare, but doctors do advice patients to try sleeping on recliners for breathing related sleep disorders.
So much so, that some recliners are built to be ‘zero gravity’ chairs. This is a position where your head is slightly above your knees and legs, which can help relieve sleeping issues.
Bonus: Helps with Pregnancy
No, I don’t mean a recliner is a good excuse to kick out the father-to-be from bed!
Instead, women in the late stages of pregnancy may find a recliner relieves a lot of the issues they may be having with sleep. The more vertical sleeping angle is much more supportive of the extra baby weight, and discourages trying to find comfort in sleeping on one side.
Disadvantage 1: Your Sleep Quality Suffers
In a lot of cases, a recliner isn’t an ideal sleep environment.
Not only are you stuck to one position (laying on your back), the chair itself isn’t always ergonomically comfortable. It may be fine to FALL asleep in, but not to go into a deeper sleep.
Especially when you consider the real environment. A recliner is normally in a living room, with lights on, probably TV in the background, near loud or beeping appliances. It’s a horrible combination of sleep disruptors.
Combine this and you can actually draw a comparison between sleeping on a recliner and sleeping drunk. Both ‘help’ you fall asleep – it’s easy to drift off in a recliner or after a few glasses of wine.
But both also ruin the quality of your sleep. You’ll probably wake up during the night, have disturbed sleep, and wake up feeling tired and sore.
Weird comparison I know – but it’s true!
Disadvantage 2: Your Body Suffers
We aren’t meant to sit down all day.
Doctors are already finding a ton of issues with being in a seated position for most of our waking lives.
Namely the tightness that’s brought on in our joints, and the compression / pressure on our spines and lower backs.
Overnight your hips and knees will get tighter, and you’ll get stiffer and more sore. Not to mention the effect this will have on your posture, or making any back issues much worse.
How to Make Sleeping in a Recliner Better
As you can see, there’s some serious disadvantages to sleeping in a recliner.
So I wanted to quickly touch on how we can minimize these to give you the best sleep possible (if you’re still going to choose one over a bed).
- First, let’s tackle those tight knees and hips. If you’re going to sleep in recliner, I’d strongly consider including a stretching routine. Ideally before you sleep, but preferably on a regular basis. Making sure you’re keeping your knees, hips, and back stretched will help prevent serious tightness and soreness building up over time.
- Make sure your back is supported. Cheaper recliners might not offer proper lower back support. Consider a supportive ergonomic pillow, or even a couple of rolled up towels. Your back should be resting against these, and not ‘holding up’ your upper body weight.
- Follow a similar sleeping routine to bed. Try to avoid falling asleep with bright lights and loud television. If you can follow a similar routine to bed – brushing your teeth, turning down the lights, closing your eyes in silence – you’ll get a much better sleep. I’ve covered the sleep trifecta (darkness, coolness, quietness) for good sleep in other articles. ##XX
- Track your sleep. Unless you’re waking up feeling well rested an amazing, it’s worth tracking your sleep. Using either wearable tech or an app on your phone. This will let you know if you’re truly getting into deep sleep, which is a must if you want to be healthy, happy, and the best version of yourself.
How to Sleep Better in a Bed
I have a sneaking suspicion that many people might be reading this topic because feel they sleep better in a recliner than a bed. But that they may be wrong.
It may just be easier to fall asleep in a recliner. And if I had to bed, that’s a mental issue, not a sleep one.
The problem most people have with beds is falling asleep in them. Because in our fast paced lives, our brains don’t get any time to think or process things. Which means when we lay there in silence at night, it sends our thoughts running.
If this sounds like you, I’d recommend incorporating some mindful practices in your day.
This can be anything from going on walks, meditating, or exercising. Anything that allows your brain some space to process and really think about things.
Then, when it comes to bed, you can really take so many more advantages than in a recliner. Here’s how:
- Create an evening routine. ‘Tell’ your brain it’s time to sleep by following a regular routine. Things like brushing your teeth, tidying up, having some decaff tea, and reading can help calm your mind down.
- Focus on the sleep trifecta – quietness, coolness, and darkness. The three of these are the secret to long, restful, energizing sleep.
Comparing Sleeping in a Recliner vs Bed
Sometimes, the best way to compare two things is through listing their pros and cons to get a good birdseye view.
Below are the advantages of each of your sleep options. Try to consider which might be more important to you.
Advantages of a Bed:
- Your spine decompresses. Cures back pain (with the right mattress).
- You get proper support. Your body can recover from any aches and pains (again, with the right mattress).
- It’s easy to change position. Side sleepers everywhere rejoice!
- It’s easy to get a proper sleep environment. No falling asleep with the light on or TV blaring.
- You don’t wake up in the middle of the night due to #4.
Advantages of a Recliner:
- It’s easy to fall asleep. But not stay asleep.
- It may help back pain – for those with specific issues pregnant women.
- It may solve breathing issues – for those with sleep apnea.
- It may solve heartburn.
Note the ‘mays’ in the above points. If you’re seriously considering moving to a recliner permanently, please consult your doctor.
Recliners are such a tempting place to spend the night.
They can be the easiest place to drift off, mostly because we’re not thinking about sleep. Unlike in bed, where the silence and lack of distraction can send our brains running wild.
I hope this quick comparison has helped you figure out why you sleep better in a recliner than a bed. It may be for certain health reasons, but it may also be that you only fall asleep better. And your quality isn’t as good.
If this content has helped you, please consider supporting the blog by checking out some of the related articles below!
And wherever you end up sleeping, I hope you rest well.
Thanks for reading!