recliner side effects

Is Sleeping in a Recliner Bad for You? [Side Effects vs Benefits]

Sleep is one of the few important necessities essential to us as humans. Apart from the fact that it replenishes lost energy, sleep is also known to be highly beneficial to the health in various aspects.

Almost as important as sleep itself are the sleeping habits observed. These sleeping habits include duration of sleep, sleep orientation, choice of sleeping apparatus among others.

When it comes to sleeping orientation, a lot of people prefer to lay fully horizontally while sleeping, thus favoring the conventional bed. Others tend more towards the recliner choice.

I’ll be analyzing the everyday recliners to find out their benefits and it’s not so beneficial properties (if any). Now, on to the question that has been bugging people since the invention of the wonderful recliner:

Is Sleeping in a Recliner Chair Bad for You?

Like all things in existence, sleeping in a recliner chair has both good sides and bad sides. Sleeping in a recliner is not downright bad, but prolonged or improper use can be dangerous to the body. Below I’ll be comparing its benefits, negative effects and dangers to find out their impact on the body and whether you should sleep in your recliner or not.

Are you looking for a perfect sleep chair? I have an article about the best recliners for sleeping

recliner chair benefits

A Doctor’s Advice

While on an interview on the Spruce, Dr. Dave David, a surgeon and media personality with over 35 years of experience in Boston, Massachusetts shared his medical opinion on the effects of recliners on relieving back pain that – recliners have the ability to soothe back pain by reducing pressure in core back muscles and the spine.

Sharing one of his patient’s experiences with sleeping in their recliners, he also confirmed that recliner use helps against breathing difficulties and other conditions like varicose veins and sleep apnea.

sleeping recliner chair dangers

Benefits of Sleeping in a Recliner

Sleeping in semi-upright position as in a recliner has its own unique features when compared to the fully flat, conventional beds. The benefits of these recliners have also been confirmed by health authorities and they include;

1. Reduces the risk of heartburn

sleep better chair

Heartburns occur when the stomach acid moves up into the esophagus, thereby causing pain in the chest area. Sitting or sleeping in the recliner makes it harder for the stomach acid to move upward since they would have to move against gravity.

2. Reduces/lessens symptoms of certain diseases 

Sleeping in a recliner has often been prescribed to individuals suffering from the following complications or illnesses

Acid reflux, sleep apnea, snoring and lumbar pains

sleeping recliner instead bed

In the case of sleep apnea which is caused by the blocking of the airways, the recliner’s posture prevents throat tissue from clamping down on your airways.

Aids Digestion

recliner vs bed

Slow breathing, while you sit in proper posture in your recliner, improves digestion. It allows your digestive system to fully kick in and process the earlier eaten food better. It has also been proven that letting your body rest and digest before bed leads to an improved overall quality of sleep.

Better Circulation for Relaxation

chair aids digestion

Turns out there’s a good reason why we feel good and go – sweet mother of all that is good and pure when using a recliner.

Sitting at a desk or standing for long periods of time like most of us do at our jobs causes blood to flow to our lower bodies and raising your feet above heart level when in a recliner improves circulation to naturally reduce stress and inflammation, thereby reducing daily fatigue.

Relieves Back Pain

back pain help

Back pain is a common occurrence that would happen to most of us at a point within our lifespan since our back and core muscles are always working most of the time to support our upper bodies. Reclining in a proper posture gives these overworked muscles a chance to relax and heal.

Do you know what’s the best sleeping position for upper back pain when sleeping in a bed?

Side Effects and Dangers of Sleeping in a Recliner Chair

Beneath its ability to help people with respiratory problems sleep better and its ability to reduce snoring, there lurk some subtle and not so pleasant side effects of using the recliner. Some of these include;

Bad Knees

heartburn night

When in a recliner, the body’s center of gravity is moved to the middle of the recliner. This is why sometimes it can be quite a chore to get out of recliners as your knees need some force and effort to stand up.

This can be especially dangerous to older individuals with joint complications as the effort can bother weak knees. Even in much younger people, it can trigger muscle contractions – where the muscle tightens over the joints and restrict body movement and posture. This can cause a fall and lead to injuries.

Back and Leg Pain

bad circulation knees

This arises majorly from poor blood circulation after being in the recliner for too long or in a bad posture.

The insufficient blood circulation can also cause narrowing of the blood vessels and arteries, limiting blood to the heart, making you feel tired and stiff. And even in some extreme cases, can cause PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease) – a circulatory condition.

Sleeping in a Recliner Chair Can Cause Shallow Sleep

Sleeping in the confined space of the recliner isn’t as satisfying to certain people. They wake up sore all over, with cramped muscles and this makes them fussy and grouchy.

Thrombotic Clotting

Sitting in a tight or reclining position for too long can lead to a risk of suffering thrombotic clotting. Also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, it causes blood clots to form in the veins, especially the ones in the leg. 

Wait a Moment!

Now, before you hastily jump into conclusions, I’m not saying using a recliner causes some scary-sounding health complications. Like every other thing, the recliner has to be used the proper way and in a moderate fashion.

You should carefully research before deciding a recliner that is suitable for you. For example, always go for recliners with lower back support. Those recliners with space between your lower back and the seat have no back support which causes back pain.

And if you already have one like that, consider rolling up a towel or cushion to fill the space or buying a better recliner chair.

bad sleeping recliner

Sleeping in a Recliner vs. Sleeping in a Bed

People have different preferences when it comes to sleep orientation (choosing between a bed and a recliner) and it can be for health reasons or just based on what they feel more comfortable with.

But, is there one that is actually better than the other? Let’s compare.

For one, sleeping on a bed avails you the opportunity to sleep horizontally. Sleeping horizontally reduces the pressure between the spinal discs caused from the vertical orientation of the spine (while sitting, standing) and allows the spinal fluid to return to the discs.

Of course, you can adjust recliners to let you sleep horizontally, it is not just up to the extent of that of the bed.

Like I mentioned earlier, sleeping in a recliner helps lower the risk of certain health conditions and also helps against snoring.

Next is sleep flexibility, which I personally consider to be the most important. Sleeping in a recliner is confined and limits body movement during sleep, whereas, sleeping on a bed allows you to change positions on your whim.

On a bed, you can choose to sleep on your back, side or even stomach (I don’t recommend trying this in your recliner). Sleeping on a bed also allows you to fully stretch your limbs and conquer the expanse of the bed if that is how you roll.

Relieving back pain – this is a one-up on the side of the recliners as the structure of the recliner is such as to perform that function, the bed…..not as much. And as a bonus, it is easier to just surrender to sleep on the recliner than make the daunting journey to the bed.

In the end, it all boils down to a matter of preference. It might also help to consult an appropriate health officer to find out which is suitable or better for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Recliners are specifically built for sleeping comfortably with their headrests, back supports, and padded cushions. All these features help to ease the stress in the right places and this might explain why your body prefers a recliner to a bed.

Is it okay to sleep in a recliner every night?

Unless recommended by your doctor, you shouldn’t seep in a recliner chair every night. It is fine to do it occasionally but prolonged use of a recliner can cause some not so pleasant complications in the body.

Can sleeping in a recliner hurt your back?

Yes. Wrong posture and excessive use of the recliner can definitely hurt your back, causing aches and pains. But when used correctly, it can relieve your back pain instead.

sleep apnea recliner


Sleeping in a recliner chair: Side effects vs benefits

Overall, the use of the recliner is okay. When comparing its benefits to its negative side effects, the benefits are more and the side effects only arise as a result of wrong or improper use which can be totally avoided. It also helps to do a proper research when deciding to get a recliner.

Our body is of utmost importance to us and sleep is a valuable necessity we can’t do without, it is only proper for us to get sleep in the best way possible to keep our bodies in the best of shape.

1 thought on “Is Sleeping in a Recliner Bad for You? [Side Effects vs Benefits]”

  1. Margaret Wallace

    I purchased a motorized recliner just prior to hip replacement surgery, in part because my bed was so high I was concerned that I would not be able to make the transition immediately after coming home from surgery.
    Now, i alternate through the night from bed to recliner, easing aches and pains all throughout my body. When in the recliner, I often wake with my legs drawn up, almost sideways in the chair, semi-fetal position. I don’t know why I do this in my sleep, it is not a comfortable feeling when I wake – and shift to the bed again.

Comments are closed.