Can Sleeping in a Zero Gravity Chair Cause Problems?

photo of a man sleeping in a zero gravity chair

When it comes to going to sleep, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is lying flat on a bed under the blankets. What about those who experience difficulties lying flat due to different health conditions, pregnancy, or pain? And what about those times you simply need a good nap for a pick-me-up? Sleeping in a regular recliner has long been a popular alternative to using a bed, but traditional reclining chairs may not actually be good for your body in the long run. 

A modern solution to this predicament may be sleeping in a zero gravity chair, instead! Compared to a traditional recliner, can sleeping in a zero gravity chair cause problems? Today, we’re exploring how using a zero gravity chair for sleeping may help circumvent some of the potential negatives of sleeping in a regular recliner while simultaneously improving your overall health.

Sleeping in a Zero Gravity Chair vs Other Sleep Positions

Whether it's due to discomfort, health conditions, or simply needing a quick recharge during the day, many turn to alternative sleeping positions, including reclining in a chair.

  1. Flat bed sleeping: The tried-and-true method of sleeping on a flat bed offers stability and familiarity. It's ideal for extended periods of rest and promotes proper spinal alignment, which is crucial for overall back health. However, for some individuals, lying flat may exacerbate certain health conditions or cause discomfort, making it less than ideal for everyone.
  2. Sleeping in a recliner: Reclining in a traditional chair offers a middle ground between lying flat and sitting upright. It's often chosen for its convenience and immediate comfort, especially for quick naps or relaxation. However, prolonged use of a traditional recliner for sleeping may lead to issues such as back pain, poor circulation, and joint stiffness, particularly if the chair lacks adequate support or adjustability.
  3. Sleeping in a zero gravity chair: While not intended for prolonged or exclusive use as a bed replacement, a zero gravity chair offers unique benefits for those seeking relief from discomfort or looking to optimize their sleep environment. By elevating the legs above the heart and distributing weight evenly along the body, zero gravity chairs may alleviate pressure on the spine, promote better circulation, and reduce breathing difficulties. However, it's essential to note that using a zero gravity chair for sleeping is typically best suited for short-term use, such as daytime naps or occasional overnight sleep.

In comparison to traditional sleeping positions, using a zero gravity chair for sleeping may offer a compelling alternative for those seeking temporary relief from discomfort or a quick energy boost. 

Benefits of Sleeping in a Zero Gravity Chair

Whether it’s due to back pain, pregnancy, sleep disorders, or a variety of other potential factors, sometimes sleeping in a bed simply isn’t a viable option for everyone. One of the most popular alternatives, then, has often been to sleep in a reclining chair instead. Not always to do with long-term sleeping arrangements, there’s also something to be said for getting comfortable in your favorite chair to take a much-needed adult nap (which can be healthy!) or unwind as part of a relaxing night time routine.

Unfortunately, sleeping in a regular recliner may result in a variety of negative impacts to your health. If a traditional recliner comes with so many potential issues, can you sleep in a zero gravity chair? The answer may surprise you. A zero gravity chair may help with such issues as:

  • Back pain or sciatic nerve pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Joint stiffness

As with any changes in your health routine, however, be sure to first consult a medical professional to ensure it’s safe for you to do so. 

Can Sleeping in a Zero Gravity Chair Cause Back Pain?

The first question on your mind when you think about sleeping in a zero gravity chair may be, “can sleeping in a recliner cause back pain?” Back pain is one of the most common negative health conditions affecting an estimated 80 percent of all adults(1) at some point in their lifetimes.

Sitting or sleeping in a traditional recliner is one of the most common causes of back pain you may be overlooking. While you may think relaxing in a recliner for short periods of time feels great and must therefore be good for your back, the reality is traditional reclining positions result in focused pressure on the lower back and pelvic region. This excess pressure can lead to back pain or sciatic nerve pain in many people.

Sleeping in a zero gravity chair, however, may actually help alleviate back pain and function as effective sciatica treatment at home. The reason for this is the zero gravity position. In the zero gravity position, the legs are elevated above the heart level and weight evenly distributed along the body. This design, based on observations by NASA(2) of astronauts’ bodies at rest in space, drastically reduces pressure on the lower back. When choosing between a zero gravity chair or recliner, this makes a difference that cannot be overstated.

Sleeping in a Zero Gravity Chair for Breathing Problems

Just as lying flat in bed may result in breathing complications for some, so might sleeping in an upright position or in a traditional recliner. Sleeping in a recliner may result in your upper body hunching over and obstructing airflow into your lungs. This is a leading cause of sleep apnea and could lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, or blood congestion in the lungs. 

Whether it’s part of an adult nap for a midday pick-me-up, an alternative position for getting better sleep while pregnant, or to help with back pain at night, can you sleep in a zero gravity chair to help with breathing problems? As opposed to a traditional chair with more limited reclining capabilities, luxury zero gravity chairs may actually reduce breathing problems, helping improve lung function and even enhance how the body heals itself!

Once again this improvement over traditional recliners stems from the design of the zero gravity position. In addition to the potential benefits to airflow while sleeping, it makes zero gravity chairs ideal for calming breathing exercises or even being paired with full body workout exercises for physical fitness.

Are Recliners Bad for Leg Circulation?

Another of the major downfalls of traditional recliners is the potential for poor circulation and the negative impacts it may have on your health. In a regular recliner, you are much more likely to develop pooled blood in the lower extremities as they remain below the heart level and your knees more bent. Sleeping in a zero gravity chair may circumvent this complication with its superior reclining design.

As we’ve previously mentioned, the zero gravity position results in the legs being elevated above the heart level. This positioning is the primary catalyst for modern zero gravity chairs to potentially improve poor blood circulation throughout the body. Better blood circulation means that not only is pressure off your back, but it’s also reduced on your heart, as well.

Avoiding Stiff Joints After Sitting or Sleeping in a Recliner

What about using a zero gravity chair for sleeping and its effects on joint health? A common complication of sleeping in a regular recliner is that it may result in joint stiffness, especially in older adults. This is because when you’re sleeping in a regular reclining chair, your knees and hips remain more bent. Over time, this sleeping position could lead to tighter hips, calves, and hamstrings, while negatively affecting your posture.

Sleeping in a zero gravity chair, however, may actually improve on how to keep joints healthy. Not only does this serve as one of the potential benefits of zero gravity chairs for all ages, but it may be especially important as part of joint recovery for athletes or active individuals. How does it do this?

Better blood flow in zero gravity position comes to the forefront once again as it helps reduce swelling and inflammation that can be a primary cause of joint pain. You may also find bonus features of zero gravity luxury recliners help as well.

For example, zero gravity chairs with massage features may make sleeping deeply come more easily while simultaneously having a positive impact on your overall health. In various studies, massage has been shown to be effective(3) for improving joint mobilization as it helps keep your muscles loose, preventing joint stiffness and pain. A heated zero gravity chair with heat therapy features may make sleeping easier on joint health, too. Using heat therapy may help increase mobility and flexibility, keeping the body loose and less prone to injury.

These features may also help manage stress and anxiety, which could cause your body to tense up and result in joint pain, as well.

Tips for Preventing Issues When Using Zero Gravity Chair for Sleeping

While sleeping in a zero gravity chair can offer numerous benefits, it's essential to ensure that you're maximizing comfort and safety during your rest. Here are some tips to help prevent potential issues:

  1. Adjust the zero gravity chair properly: Before settling in for a nap or short overnight sleep, take the time to adjust the zero gravity chair to your liking. Ensure that the chair is reclined to the desired angle and that the leg rest is elevated to support your lower body comfortably. Experiment with different settings until you find the position that feels most natural and supportive for your body.
  2. Use additional support: Depending on your comfort preferences and specific needs, consider using additional support accessories to enhance your sleeping experience. This may include adding extra pillows or cushions to provide support to your head, neck, or lower back. A supportive neck pillow or lumbar cushion can help maintain proper spinal alignment and reduce strain on your muscles.
  3. Take breaks and change positions: While sleeping in a zero gravity chair can be comfortable, it's essential to avoid staying in the same position for too long. To prevent stiffness or discomfort, take regular breaks to stretch and change positions periodically. This may involve briefly sitting upright, adjusting the chair angle, or shifting your body to relieve pressure points.
  4. Maintain proper hydration: Adequate hydration is essential for overall health, including during sleep. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate muscle tension and discomfort. Keep a water bottle nearby, especially if you plan on sleeping in your zero gravity chair for an extended period.
  5. Listen to your body: Ultimately, the most crucial tip for preventing issues when sleeping in a zero gravity chair is to listen to your body. Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or strain and adjust your position accordingly. If you experience persistent discomfort or pain, it may be a sign that the chair is not providing adequate support, and you should discontinue use or seek alternative solutions.

We hope this guide has helped answer the question, “can sleeping in a zero gravity chair cause problems?” and helped you recognize how they may, in fact, do the opposite! Compared to a traditional recliner, using a zero gravity chair for sleeping may enhance your mental and physical health while deepening your relaxation and improving sleep quality. Choosing a zero gravity chair that meets your needs makes them a true asset to your lifestyle. Try one out and experience the difference yourself.

Want to learn more about the potential health benefits of zero gravity chairs and how they could positively impact your life? Check out these additional resources:

Additional Sources:

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Disclaimer: This content is not medical advice. Please consult with your health care professional when considering implementing changes to your health or workout routines to ensure it’s compatible with your needs.