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Daily Living Aids

Is it Okay to Sleep in a Recliner? Pros, Cons, & Side Effects

Written by Liliane
Last Updated :
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The pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner have probably crossed your mind.

The popularity of contemporary recliner chairs is on the rise, and recent features include back, side, or head support.

For seniors, the chair’s stability is essential for comfort and safety when it comes time to sleep at night.

Although sleeping in a recliner has several potential health risks, there are steps you can take to have a safe and healthy experience while in a seated position. 

Here’s a quick video overview.

Can You Sleep In A Recliner?

If you are like most people, your current bed has a flat mattress supported by a box spring. The spring supports your body’s weight while you sleep at night.

However, recliners have no springs, so they must be used cautiously to avoid injury. The recliner chair cushion will help your body, but it is much lower than a regular mattress.

If you are not careful, this can cause back pain. If you plan on falling asleep in your recliner, it is best to use a pillow or a foam mattress pad on top of the chair’s cushion to ensure a restful sleep.

Choosing the best recliner for seniors is very important since there are many benefits to having a recliner chair in your home. [1]

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner.

Best recliner chair for sleep

Pros of Sleeping in A Recliner

There are several good reasons to consider this type of chair instead of your bed in addition to helping a wide variety of health issues. Here are some of the main benefits you will enjoy if you switch.

  • No heartburn
  • Lighter to move
  • Built-in heating pad
  • It helps sleep after surgeries 
  • Reduces stomach acid reflux
  • It helps with sleep apnea and reduces shallow sleep
  • Boosts deep sleep, REM sleep, and quality of sleep
  • Helps with blood circulation and reduces blood clot risks
  • Helps back pain

Cons or Dangers Of Sleeping in a Recliner Chair

There are some negative effects of choosing to sleep in a recliner.[2] Here is a list of the biggest concerns you should be aware of.

  • You can slide off the chair while sleeping
  • Limited sleeping positions
  • It can cause joint problems
  • Risks of blood clots
  • Impaired Circulation 
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Possibility to negatively affect your posture
  • It can be uncomfortable to sleep in an upright position

Summary of the Pros and Cons of Sleeping in a Recliner

ProsCons
Absence of heartburnYou can slide off the chair while sleeping
Easier to moveBlood vessels can be damaged.
A built-in heating pad reduces sore musclesBlood clot risks
Improves sleep quality after surgeryDisrupt the flow of blood
Helps alleviate acid reflux.Blood vessels can be damaged
Aids in the treatment of obstructive nocturnal health conditions like breathing disorders.Possibility of causing harm to your posture

Sleeping in a recliner can be convenient when you have little time. However, you must be aware of the potential dangers before investing.

Check out this video about the dangers of sleeping in a recliner!

You will need to invest in the best recliners for the elderly to sleep in.

The value of having a recliner filled with a foam mattress pad is also great for your older parents.

If you’re looking to buy a recliner for your elderly loved one, I strongly recommend reading more reviews and purchasing the right one.

Read more about why do I sleep better in my recliner than my bed?

How Should You Sleep in A Recliner?

There are several ways to sleep in a recliner, including putting an additional pillow behind your neck, knees, and lower back.

When choosing a recliner to sleep in, it is essential to first learn how to sleep in it.

recliner in the living room

If your arms can support your body weight while sleeping upright, you may be able to try sleeping in a chair.

If you find reclining causes you to have an uncomfortable sleep, consider trying it from a different angle or position. One option is to adjust the chair to a flatter position.

Adjusting the location and number of pillows can also help. Experiment to find a configuration that works best for you. My mom found that two pillows wedged behind her back and shoulders increased her comfort when she was sick.

Some people find that shifting to sleeping on their side helps provide adequate sleep.

Positions during sleep can also help with recovery after some surgeries, such as shoulder surgery. Recliners can provide health benefits in this case.

Knowing how to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery – NEW 3 is essential to recovering from your procedure, getting through rehab, and getting your life back on track.

When you sleep in a reclined position, follow a few tips to ensure you have the best possible experience after surgery.

Avoid using the armrest for support, as it can cause more damage to your shoulder joint than not using any help. This is because gravity takes over when you’re lying flat on your back and puts pressure on your shoulder joint.

That’s why it’s essential to keep your arm muscles elevated above the level of your heart while sleeping. [4]

The best way to do this following surgery and other comfort issues is by using a certain type of pillow. Place two or three fluffy pillows under your hand and elbow and one under each leg.

This way, you can still achieve good comfort and not work too hard to keep your joints from getting damaged during downtime.

Finally, always get out of the chair every few hours to move around and ensure you’re getting the blood flow to your muscles and joints.[5]

Here are some more tips on sleeping in a recliner following shoulder, knee, or abdominal surgery.

FAQ

Here are some questions about sleeping in a recliner I’ve been asked before that I think you will find helpful:

Is It OK to Sleep in a Recliner Every Night?

Yes, but it’s not recommended for long unless you’ve had shoulder surgery and are recovering.
You shouldn’t sleep in a recliner every night if you don’t have shoulder surgery because it can increase the pressure on your joints. However, if you’re still recovering, then, by all means, sleep in your recliner every night!

Is Sleeping in a Recliner Better Than Sleeping in a Bed?

Yes, it is. Sleeping in a recliner is better than sleeping in a bed because your joints don’t have to work as hard to support you while you sleep.
With a bed, your joints are constantly working to keep you invested. They will eventually wear down if you sleep every night on your back or side all the time. 

Conclusion

Before you can sleep in a semi-reclined position, it is essential to know the pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner. I hope this guide has helped you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one.

Whether it’s an old or new recliner, it can still be a great option if you want to sleep in a recliner after surgery or for someone who does not have to sit at a 90-degree angle for an extended period of time. 

There is a lot of potential issues to be aware of when sleeping in a recliner. It’s essential to be aware of the potential dangers if you don’t use one correctly.

However, there are many benefits to having one in your home, especially if someone in your family has had shoulder surgery.

Shoulder injuries and problems can have adverse effects on your life. If you have had shoulder surgery, sleeping in a recliner can be an excellent way to help you recover. 

man sleeping in a recliner

Have you tried sleeping in a recliner? Let us know below!

References:

1. Does Sleeping in a Recliner Chair Have Any Benefits or Side Effects? [Internet]. Healthline. 2020. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/sleeping-in-a-recliner#potential-benefits

2. Publishing HH. Is it dangerous to sleep sitting up? [Internet]. Harvard Health. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/is-it-dangerous-to-sleep-sitting-up

3. Best sleeping positions [Internet]. www.medicalnewstoday.com. 2020. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320870

4. ORCA. How to Sleep After Shoulder Surgery [Internet]. Orcaak. 2016 [cited 2022 Jun 28]. Available from: https://www.orcaak.com/post/how-to-sleep-after-shoulder-surgery

5. How to Sleep Comfortably After Shoulder Surgery [Internet]. Dr Chandra Sekhar. 2020 [cited 2022 Jun 28]. Available from: https://www.hyderabadshoulderclinic.com/how-to-sleep-comfortably-after-shoulder-surgery/pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner

About Author

Liliane
Lilian Wamaitha is a passionate writer and avid cyclist with over 4 years of experience in blogging. As a lifelong learner, she is driven by her curiosity to discover and learn new things. This curiosity and passion eventually sparked a love for the senior writing niche. She has written countless articles to help seniors find their footing in this world through healthy and holistic living. She’s passionate about seeing the seniors in society live a more fulfilling life to the end. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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