Dangers of Sleeping in a Recliner Chair: Side Effects and Helpful Tips

Who would have thought that there would be dangers of sleeping in a recliner chair? A chair that we buy to make us feel more comfortable and to correct our postures is ultimately doing the exact opposite? Well, I wouldn’t put it like that but the truth is not far from that either.

I know, all of this might sound a bit too harsh for you and quite frankly, I didn’t believe it all at first but then I started seeing the negative effects on my body and that was the moment of clarity for me. Now, I’m not saying that you should throw away your recliners, but just give me a chance to explain!

Dangers of Sleeping in a Recliner Chair

Dangers of Sleeping in a Recliner Chair
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I know, sitting in a recliner chair may be your favorite part of the day. It fits and holds your body like a jelly molder and instantly relaxes your entire body. And I am not saying that a recliner does not benefit your body in the short term, all I am saying is that it can have a devastating impact on your physique and health if you sleep in that exact same reclined position for eight or nine hours every day for more than a few days.

I think you got my point and now you want to know more! So, why don’t you give this entire article a quick read and educate ourselves about it?

6 Major Side Effects of Sleeping in a Recliner Chair

Dangers of Sleeping in a Recliner Chair
Infographic: Major Side Effects Of Sleeping In A Recliner Chair

1. Breathing Problems

Taking a short nap on a recliner is fine but when it comes to sleeping in a recliner for longer periods of time then you might want to consult your doctor beforehand. The reason behind this is that a reclined position obstructs the air passage into and out of the lungs.

Moreover, this position also puts pressure on the blood vessels inside the lungs thus restraining them from pumping the blood out. Hence, the blood starts to accumulate inside the lung vessels, a condition known as blood congestion.

This accumulation of blood within the vessels inside the lungs can itself lead to many problems. In severe cases, blood congestion within the lungs causes delicate blood capillaries to rupture thus the blood seeps into the lungs.

Furthermore, it cuts off the supply of oxygenated blood from the lungs to all over the body. This causes oxygen deficiency and the organs may suffocate. All these conditions may prove to be life-threatening if you already have lung problems such as Asthma, Tuberculosis, etc.

2. Muscle Stiffness

Muscle stiffness is a medical condition that usually occurs when you sleep in the wrong position or in the same position for a long period. To put it simply, you may already be aware of the fact that you naturally take turns while you are asleep.

This is a natural cycle that helps keep the blood pumping through the veins of your body. However, sometimes, when we sleep in the same posture for hours, we wake up with sore muscles and muscular cramps, a condition called muscle stiffness.

Now connecting the dots to a recliner chair. A recliner is supposed to lock in your entire body in a reclined position. No doubt, this reclined position can be very comfortable, however, it does not leave much room for body movements. Thus, you will have to sleep in that reclined position for hours without being able to move. So, it is ideal to only take short naps in a recliner but never sleep in it.

3. Permanent Loss Of Body Balance

Sleeping in a reclined position for hours on end can have a permanent and deteriorating effect on your body posture. This is because a recliner pulls your hips downwards and your knees upwards and your upper back to hunch.

Over time, the muscles around the knees, hips, calves, and upper back start shrinking up to accommodate this posture. And when that happens, you will find yourself unable to sit or stand erect. Furthermore, you will have to go through intense sessions of physiotherapy to correct that ruined posture of yours.

Also read a detailed answer to the most common question asked by recliner users. i.e. Is recliner good for my back

4. Shallow Sleep

You must have ample space around yourself to be able to fall into a deep and comfortable sleep. If you are cramped up in a small space like that of a recliner chair, your body will find it hard to relax and hence you will have a shallow and disturbed sleep.

Your subconscious mind will keep working overtime to keep you from falling down the recliner chair. As a result, you wake up frustrated, sore, and even more tired than you were when you went to sleep. Thus, always make sure that you sleep in an open space to allow your body and mind ample space to relax while you are asleep!

5. Deep Vein Thrombosis

Thrombus is a medical term for a blood clot that usually forms within the vascular system of a body and this situation is called Thrombosis. This usually happens when you don’t move your body for long periods of time.

In a reclined position, the cramped space does not allow your body to move, especially your knees; hence, the risk of a thrombus forming in your deep vein is greatly increased.

Deep vein thrombosis can prove to be life-threatening because once it forms, there is no way you can track the movement of this thrombus. It can get stuck in any vein or artery inside any organ of your body. It can block the delicate capillaries of the lungs, liver, heart, or God forbid brain!

6. Impaired Circulation in Lower Body

A recliner is designed to push your knees up while you sit on it. This position results in the constriction of the blood vessels in the knees. As a result, the blood circulation in your lower body is impaired.

Over time, if the posture is not corrected, it can lead up to permanent joint and muscle stiffness, and impaired movement. In the worst-case scenario, it can also lead up to knee pain/arthritis which is almost impossible to cure especially in elderly people.

You may also be interested to read about best recliners for elderly sleep in

Read a detailed video guide about pros and cons of sitting in a recliner chair

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How to Sleep in a Recliner to make yourself comfortable?

Now that we have settled that you should not sleep in a recliner chair for longer periods of time, it leaves us with the precautions you must take before taking a short nap on a recliner. Ideally speaking, you shouldn’t have any problems with sleeping in a reclined position for a short duration, but it is still a good idea to be on the safe side.

Thus, the following are a few tips that will improve your sleep and make you more comfortable on a recliner.

1. The headrests of recliners are way too hard to keep you comfortable. So, you should remove it, and use a medicated pillow instead. This will make sure that your head is aligned correctly with your spine.

2. In order to keep your upper back from hunching, you can put a small flat pillow beneath your lower back. It will provide you with additional support and also align your entire spine.

3. Spread cotton sheets on your recliner so that they will soak up any moisture and sweat from your body and keep you cool and dry. This tip is especially important because your recliner has leather covers.

4. Keep a warm blanket nearby, in case you suddenly feel cold.

5. Make sure that you spread your legs straight on the footrests rather than let them dangle in a sitting position. However, if your recliner does not have footrests then make sure that you wear compression socks.

Some Special Cases When Sleeping in a Recliner is Necessary

1. Sleeping in a Recliner After Back Surgery

Sleeping In A Recliner After Back Surgery

Sleeping in a reclined position immediately after spinal surgery is vastly beneficial. In fact, even the physicians put you on a recliner bed in hospitals after critical back surgeries. This is because our spines are slightly curved in shape and thus when you sleep in a reclined position, you are automatically relieving your back of unnecessary stress. Moreover, it is easier to get up from a reclined position rather than when you are laying on your back.

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So, yes, it is better to sleep in a spinal surgery recliner immediately after back surgery. But don’t let it grow on you and slowly, with the permission of your physician, you should shift to your bed because you will start developing other health problems from sleeping in a reclined position. Also, look at most recommended recliners to sleep in after surgery.

2. Sleeping in a Recliner During Pregnancy

Sleeping In A Recliner During Pregnancy

One thing you shouldn’t have during pregnancy is a poor sleep schedule because it will negatively impact your health as well as the health of your baby. But how to get a proper amount of sleep, especially in the second and third trimesters when the weight of the baby feels too heavy? Have a look at best recliners for heavy person.

You can not sleep on your back because that would press the inferior vena cava, a vein that carries blood from the lower body towards the heart, and you can definitely not sleep on your right side because that puts pressure on the liver.

So the ideal position to sleep is on your left. However, to restrict movement and to avoid accidentally sleeping on your other side while fast asleep, you should consider sleeping in a recliner. A recliner will cradle your entire body and lock it in place so that you can get a peaceful sleep without feeling the burden of the baby bump.

If you’re affected by sleep apnea, have a look at best recliners for sleep apnea

FAQs about Sleeping in a Recliner

Is it OK to sleep in a recliner every night?

No, it is not ok to sleep in a recliner every night for hours on end. This will have a lot of negative health implications on your body and will ruin your entire posture within days. It restricts movement and thus cramps you in a small confined space. As a result, you wake up all cranky and exhausted. Besides, the muscles on your thighs, hips, and calves start shrinking to accommodate the reclined position thus, resulting in cramps, contractures, and limited movement.

Is it ok to take a short nap in a recliner chair?

Yes, taking a brief nap on a recliner chair while watching television or reading a book is acceptable. This is because it will not negatively impact your health or posture if you only sleep in the chair for a half hour or so. However, make sure that you move to a proper bed if you are going to doze off for hours because that is where the problem lies.

Can sleeping in a recliner cause blood clots?

The movement of our muscles aids blood circulation especially on the right side of the body because apparently, the beat from our heart is not strong enough to pump blood in our veins on the right side. However, sleeping in a recliner hampers muscle movement and thus circulation impedes. This can cause our blood to clot in the delicate capillaries which can be extremely dangerous and can result in heart strokes and brain strokes.

Read a detailed answer about can sleeping in a recliner cause blood clots.

Wrapping Up Disadvantages Of Sleeping In A Recliner

In the end, I would like to quickly summarize everything I detailed in this entire article. First of all, you need to sleep in a regular bed so that your body would be able to move around freely. This is because cramping your body in a tight space would only result in a shallow disturbed sleep and thus, you will wake up all exhausted and frustrated.

This will also negatively impact your energy levels throughout the day. Secondly, you can doze off into a short nap in a recliner chair but it shouldn’t be longer than an hour at most, and that too with the precautions I suggested above!

Most Relevant Recliner Guides

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