I have spent a lot of time trying to perfect my sleep over the past 15 years, and I have only recently started to appreciate the benefits of sleeping elevated at 5 - 10 degrees. Below, I share 6 benefits of elevated sleep.
What are the benefits of elevated sleeping?
Elevating the head opens the breathing passage, which improves any sleep problems due to health issues and snoring. The benefits of sleeping elevated greatly relieve those suffering from heart disease-related illnesses, acid reflux, congestion problems, and sleep apnea.
I had broken my collar bone and had a very difficult time lying in a flat position. Sleeping elevated was a lifesaver for me. It allowed me to sleep on my back all night without discomfort or pain.
Benefit # 1: Decrease Mouth Breathing
If your mouth is dry upon waking, then most likely you are mouth breathing while sleeping.
Mouth breathing can be caused by several factors including a nasal obstruction from a cold or illness, a habit formed in childhood, or for some women a symptom developed in late pregnancy.
Mouth breathing causes the oxygen absorption capacity of the lungs to be reduced, whereas nose breathing produces nitric oxide gas to increase the lung’s oxygen absorption capacity. Nighttime mouth breathing can dry out gums increasing the danger of cavities, plaque, and gum disease. This condition can also acerbate snoring problems that keep everyone awake at night.
Using an adjustable bed frame or back and shoulder wedge to elevate your head while lying on your back will alleviate mouth breathing by opening a clear passage that will promote nasal breathing with a better-unobstructed airflow.
Benefit # 2: End Post Nasal Drip
The body normally creates about a quart of mucus each day. Most will not notice this occurrence, but those with post-nasal drip certainly will as they deal with the feel of the trickle down the back of the throat. Post-nasal drip can be detrimental to sleep as it causes one to awake coughing and hacking in an attempt to clear the throat of mucus. Lying flat allows for mucus to gather in the back of the throat. Keeping the head elevated while sleeping can help in keeping post-nasal drip from occurring by curbing the dripping of mucus as it travels. Simply raising the head of an adjustable bed frame, or using a wedge will help to end the dreaded post-nasal drip for a night of better sleep.
Benefit # 3: Curb Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring may be an indication of an obstructed breathing condition called Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea is caused by pauses in breathing while sleeping. This results in lower blood oxygen which then makes the heart work harder. It is a medical condition that should be treated by a medical professional. Whether it be sleep apnea or just simple snoring, the loud commotion expelling out from the nose while sleeping can awaken the sleeper and those within earshot of the snorer. Sleeping elevated will help curb snoring and encourage better breathing.
Benefit # 4: Help The Nervous System and Movement Disorders
Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT) is now being researched and used to help those stricken with nervous system problems. Andrew K. Fletcher has done studies that determine amazing improvements in numerous conditions simply by elevating the head while sleeping. After working with those with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s, Fletcher’s subjects saw noticeable improvement after sleeping inclined. Many of the subjects no longer needed medication or therapy after using IBT.
Benefit # 5: Decrease Acid Reflux and GERD
When eating late or just before bedtime, your body produces stomach acid. When you are lying flat that acid can make its way back up the esophagus and cause burning and damage. When you sleep elevated you keep the acid down in the stomach preventing symptoms and damage from acid reflux to occur.
Benefit # 6: Take pressure off of your spine.
By lying slightly elevated you take pressure off of your lower back and spine. This inclined position also helps you to stay on your back while asleep.
To take this one step further, you can also elevate your legs by putting a small pillow under them. Try to achieve the position in the picture below
CAUTION NOTE: Do not sleep elevated every night. Your lower back will adapt and lose its natural arch. Vary your elevated sleeping position every 2 - 3 nights.
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