Pros and Cons of Sleeping in a Recliner

People who have a recliner often feel it is easier to get sleep in a recliner than in a bed. Sometimes, when we are watching TV or listening to music, we just fall asleep unconsciously. However, most of our human beings are sleeping in bed and a recliner is something that is popular for a few decades.

You may wonder what are the pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner and is it bad to sleep in a recliner? We get onto this mission and will show you our findings in this post.

Is it bad to sleep in a recliner?

Our answer is  “it depends.” In some situations, sleeping in a recliner could be a better choice than sleeping in a bed. But in some cases, it could lead to some health issues. 

On top of it, how you sleep in a recliner and the design and quality of the recliner itself also play a role. 

In the sections below, we will teach you how to judge according to your own conditions.

Pros of sleeping in a recliner

If you don’t have an adjustable bed, changing the sleeping angle is hard while sleeping in a bed. With a recliner, you get the advantage of having a few or even infinite reclining angles, making it is a better choice for people with some specific health conditions. Note that you should consult your doctor before making any decisions.

No heartburn

acid reflux

Heartburn is a burning feeling that is caused by the stomach acid traveling back to your esophagus. There is a valve between your stomach and esophagus which is often closed while digesting to prevent the acid back to the chest. 

However, for people who suffer from acid reflux, the valve can’t shut completely and the acid could back to the esophagus from time to time. This happens more at night since gravity can’t help to push the food to the stomach as you lay flat. 

Sleeping in a recliner could make your body keep in a more upright position so that the acid is hard to travel back to the esophagus. In this way,  you can suffer heartburn at night less than sleeping in a bed.

However, we don’t recommend you to recline just after meals as it will increase the chances of acid reflux.

Promote better breathing

More than 30 million Americans have sleep apnea and most of them have obstructive sleep apnea. When you are sleeping, the muscles in your throat become relaxed and lead to the blockage of your airway. 

This will make you snore and wake up a few times at night. This situation can be improved by elevating your head and this is what a recliner can do for you.

Sleeping in a recliner could make your upper body stay in a reclining position and the muscles in your throat will not block your airway anymore.

Sleep apnea can be dangerous sometimes and snoring could affect your partner’s life. Therefore, sleeping in a recliner could bring a fair share of health benefits to you.

Sleep better when pregnant

pregnant women sleep in a recliner

Sleeping when you are pregnant is hard especially for women who are in the last stage of pregnancy. Since the weight of the fetus increases at this stage, sleeping on the back will decrease blood circulation which is bad for both mom and baby. 

Stay in a mostly upright position while sleeping in a recliner could solve this problem and also help you to breathe better as some pregnant women also have sleep apnea issues.

Surgery recovery

Some doctors will suggest their patients sleep in a recliner after surgery. One study shows that patients who recovered in a recliner chair reached home readiness sooner than the ones who recovered in a hospital bed.

This may be due to the fact that recliner chairs are more comfortable, prevent acid reflux, and let you get in and out of the chair easier. 

Reduce muscle strain and pressure

Some good ergonomic recliners could effectively alleviate your back pain and neck pain. They can provide great lumbar support and the neck pillows are precisely located to support your neck. 

Some high-end models could achieve a zero-gravity position, which is known to have a bunch of benefits such as relieving muscle stress, opening airways,s and reducing swelling. 

Cons of sleeping in a recliner

Sleeping in recliners does have some advantages but it could also result in a few dangers as well. These cons are enumerated below.

Muscle stiffness and pains

It may seem paradoxical but sleeping in a recliner could cause pains and joint stiffness. Your hip and legs tend to bend while sleeping in a mostly upright position. After a few hours of sleep, your joint and muscle will become stiff.

In addition, our body is not designed to sit. If you stay in a seated position for too long, your back, head, and limbs would not function well.

Shallow sleep

Compared to the standard bed, the recliner is much narrower. Therefore, you will find it is hard to change your sleeping position in a recliner chair. For people who are used to switching positions while sleeping, this could be problematic for some users.

Outside of that, a majority of people like to place their chairs in the living room and fall asleep while watching TV or movies without turning off the light. Where this is the case, you will likely wake up easily during the night, leaving you to feel exhausted. 

Reduced blood circulation

Just like sitting in an airplane for hours, sleeping in a reclined or seated position in a recliner could develop a risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.

It often happens in your legs and could cause theratening results. Wearing compression socks and keeping your legs straight could help to improve the situation.

How to sleep properly in a recliner?

sleep in a recliner

We mentioned a few pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner. There are a few ways to decrease the impact of these cons.

  • Find a comfortable position. Depending on your own conditions, the most comfortable position may varies. You could adjust your recliner and test different angles. It is also advisable to consult your doctor or therapists while deciding to sleep in a recliner.
  • Filling the gap. Not every recliner is built for you to sleep. It is possible that there is a gap between the lumbar part and your back. The headrest might be not in the right position as well. You can use a pillow or even a towel roll to fill the gap so that the chair can provide good support for your body.  Check these recliners for sleeping.
  • Blanket to keep warm. We are very easy to doze off in a recliner but wake up with a cold. Always remember to get some blankets to keep your body warm at night.
  • Stretch from time to time. To prevent joint stiffness and muscle pains, you can do some stretching exercises regularly. This will help to better the situation. 
  • Move the chair to the bedroom. People tend to sleep better in a dark and quiet environment. If you decide to sleep in a recliner chair, you need to prepare yourself a good environment just as sleep in a bed. Move the chair to your bedroom and switch the light off, you are all set.

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

It is possible that sleeping in a reclining or upright position have improve your health conditions somewhat, making you feel better and relieving the pains. So you prefer to sleep in a recliner.

It may also be because the mattress can’t support your body in the right way and you always feel tired when getting up from the bed.

Another reason is that we can’t help to think about things in the bed and feel hard to fall asleep. When we sit in a recliner, we feel relaxed and fall asleep naturally.

Bottom line

Is it OK to sleep in a recliner? Yes, it is generally safe to do it. Sleeping in a recliner would be great for someone in a few health conditions but it could also lead to some dangers. 

Pregnant women, people who suffer from sleep apnea and acid reflux find sleeping in a recliner is such a relief but for some with joint problems feel it will make the situation worse. Those pros and cons can vary for different users.

If you have severe health issues, never test it before asking your doctors. 

Photo of author
Rachelle is the founder of Best Chair Finder. She is a fanatic of home improvement, and as an engineer, she knows well about each chair's mechanism. You can find her story on the About page.