Sleeping in a Recliner: Pros and Cons for Seniors

16 Aug, 2019

Sleeping in a Recliner: Pros and Cons for Seniors

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Seniors whether they are active or less mobile often like sleeping in a recliner.  As a senior if you are housesitting you may well be used to taking certain creature comforts with you; a pillow; a bolster cushion. We all have favourite indulgences. Finding a recliner in the house can be a real boost. Whether you think resting in a recliner for long periods is good or bad, right or wrong consider the facts.

Before retirement age or we become ‘seniors’, many of us spend about 80,000 hours at one workplace alone. In addition to this, we spend up to 14 hours daily in a seated position and often sit incorrectly, disturbing our posture in the process. This results in 80% of the world’s inhabitants complaining of back pain, 30% of people aged 35-50 suffering from chronic back problems. 

When did your sleeping position become so important as a senior?

In this regard, the use of ergonomic recliners in the organisation of the modern person’s living space will bring a useful preventive measure against spinal diseases. And if we talk about seniors, healthy sleep is especially important. 

Life as a senior can hold many pleasures

Today, I have a few tips that will help choose the best recliner for the elderly and some sleep tips to ensure the sleep comfortable and healthy.

Recliners and how to choose the right one

According to, If you choose a quality recliner, it must have the following advantages:

  • Reliable mechanism of transformation. It has to be a durable construction with a lockable mechanism for your quality sleep. This chair should be effortlessly converted into a complete sleeping place;
  • Ergonomics. The ideal seat just for you which keeps your spine in the right position and has no unnecessary bulges and folds; 
  • The padding has to be hypoallergenic, durable, non-toxic, easy-to-clean, etc. In the presence of expressed problems with blood circulation and joints, an effective solution will be memory foam. However, people with conservative views do not always like unusual modern materials. In this case, they can be offered a recliner with soft polyurethane foam or elastic soft natural latex.

The reclining positions

In addition to the initial sitting position, the chair usually has three additional positions:

  • “TV” position. The backrest is slightly deflected and the footrest is raised. This is the most convenient position for reading or watching movies.
  • “Get-up Assistant” position. The chair is raised and then tilted forward.
  • “Lying” position. The chair is fully extended and the footrest is raised. Usually, this position is used for rest and sleep.

Considering the above features and advantages, we can conclude that sleeping on a quality recliner can be absolutely comfortable and safe. 

Consider all comfortable rest positions – recliners are an option

Sleeping in a seated position

To make sleeping in a seated position even more comfortable, it is recommended: 

  • Find the right recliner. Firstly, it’s not easy for people faced with leg and spine diseases to find a really comfortable recliner which will not only relieve the load on the musculoskeletal system, perform a number of preventive functions, and also simplify the process of getting up. Moving from the sitting to standing position stretchess the leg and back muscles. For this reason,  there are special recliners to help you to gently return to the original vertical position without any effort. 
  • Check your recliner. At right angles, our spine gets extra stress, the spinal disks are squeezed harder and the muscles are not relaxed. You need to put your chosen recliner in a “lying” position and have a seat with its backrest down and footrest up to relax your back and leg joints. Take your time. There shouldn’t be anything that’s making you feel uncomfortable. 
  • Make sure you feel comfortable and can really sleep in this chair/position for an hour. It is important that your body vessels are not squeezed and your limbs are resting freely on the chair in a natural position. This will minimize the risk of your muscles getting tired during sleep. If the head is turned in a sitting position for a long time, there’s a risk of cervical osteochondrosis or exacerbation.

Consider additional support

  • Cushions. It is good if your recliner has lumbar support or headrest, if not – you can use some separate high-quality cushions under your lower back, neck, or between your knees for an ergonomic posture during your sleep.
  • According to an eco-friendly cushion will relieve tension in the joints and help prevent numbness in the legs. Hands should be placed below the shoulder belt and never under the head.

Sleeping positions for seniors

Note that sleeping on the right side of the body may cause excessive strain on the liver, resulting in additional wrinkles on the skin. Sleep on the back is best for people suffering from: hypertension, heart disease. Of course, it is difficult to accustom yourself to a useful and unusual position, because our body position depends on the nature and psychological type of a person.

Besides the mechanism, ergonomics and padding, your recliner should also

  • Be moderately capacious. So that you don’t get stuck in it and feel comfortable and loose but cosy.
  • Have overstuffed armrests on the sides (to stay in the recliner during sleep) and neck support
  • Be both soft and stiff. When the sleeping area is too stiff, the joints are pressurised and the blood circulation is disturbed. As the vessels age, they become less elastic, more easily squeezed and damaged. 

Alleviating pressure on the back

Old joints cannot withstand the back pressure of a rigid filler as in their youth. After sleeping on too rigid padding, you can wake up with pains in your shoulders, neck, lower back, legs, and arms. Moreover, a headache and a sense of fatigue (consequences of impaired circulation) may also occur.

The correct recliner supports the weak spine, does not allow painful shifts of the vertebrae and nerve roots jamming. 

  • Be easy to stand up from. There should be a lifting feature that helps getting up by lifting and tilting the seat forward. 
  • Be eco-friendly. Clearly, no cheap upholstery that may cause skin or breathing problems.

Tips for healthy sleep in a recliner

  • Position. You can roll over as many times as you want in your recliner before falling asleep. This reduces muscle pressure and improves sleep quality. A pillow or other support is recommended to maintain sleep. You can also wrap your head and the backrest with a scarf for the same purpose. The head will be supported in position. 
  • Temperature. Most people find it much easier to sleep if they are warm. But when the body falls asleep, its temperature drops slightly – a feeling of coolness can wake you up and keep you awake. It shouldn’t be stuffy or hot either. An air temperature of about 64.4 F is recommended for a comfortable sleep. Make sure that your room is ventilated and the fresh air flows in.
  • Silence. Wear earplugs or earbuds to protect yourself from foreign sounds. If you are used to sleeping in silence, try to create the right environment around you. Make sure you are not disturbed by anyone beforehand. Turn off your phone if necessary. This allows you to relax and fall asleep more quickly. Consider using a sleep mask. Alarming thoughts and problems of the day should also be “turned off” inside your mind. Think about pleasant things such as peaceful landscapes. 
Why is REM sleep so evasive for Seniors?

After 40 years people spend less time in REM sleep. At this age, the brain begins to change the nature of sleep. If at the age of 25 the barking of a dog did not prevent you from sleeping, then after 40 it does not let you sleep. These changes take place gradually over the course of a decade and become more visible by the age of 50. This is worth noting for seniors.

  • Music. If silence puts pressure on you, listen to calm, relaxing music or just a set of sounds of nature. Even if you’re used to falling asleep in silence, just in case, upload your favorite quiet melodies to your smartphone (preferably without words, so you don’t get distracted), mantras or any other relaxing compositions will also be appropriate. 
Sleep coaching online for seniors

By the way, you may be interested in special seniors programs for diving into sleep, which can be found on YouTube. Basically, they last about an hour, subconsciously affecting your brain with the help of binaural beats. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

Music in headphones lulls you down especially well, e.g. when external noise still gets through your earplugs and distracts you from sleep. The brain concentrates on music, not noise, and, thus, relaxes faster. 

Things to consider:
  • Blanket. If you’re worried about feeling cold use a blanket, cover yourself with it. If you’re “wrapped” with something that keeps your body warm. Quilty blanket is worth selecting. You can look for something that  a weighted blanket like Quilty adds warmth despite the seven-layer construction. It helps you to sleep faster. Here you can check the review of Quilty blanket.
  • Massage. Before going to bed, if your recliner has the appropriate function, arrange a light massage session. Or alternatively you can try visiting a medical massage therapy school from a professional to complement the recliner massage. This relaxes your body and mind, and sets it to rest. You can also light aromatherapy candles or take a warm shower before going to bed.
  • Clothes. Wear light and loose clothing made of natural fabrics. Sleeping in tight clothes is fraught with problems for internal organs and limbs, along with pelvic problems for men. 
  • Food. If sleep evades you drink a small cup of warm mint tea. Nuts, (dried) fruits, sandwiches are good snacks. After a meal and hot tea, the body will be able to relax and sleeps faster.
  • Books and movies. You can read a book or watch a movie. Though watching movies in the dark can distract the brain from relaxation. Choose wisely. Reading a good book may be safer.
  • Organised activities –  research and engage in the free government programs for seniors.
  • Activity in the day – visit the parks and recreation activities for seniors

If you are still active and mobile it is worth doing your utmost to keep active during the day, this can enhance your sleep patterns at night whether in a recliner or a bed.

Walking dogs is a great way to remain active during the day


Finally, over the years the phrase “save your health” becomes more and more meaningful, especially to seniors. It is very important for elderly people not to aggravate the existing diseases, but on the contrary – to improve health whenever possible. The right place to sleep for an elderly person should be comfortable, healthy, and orthopaedic. 

So, yes, seniors can sleep in a recliner but, when choosing this type of lounger, you should also consider existing diseases and the health condition in general.


At we like to offer useful and practical articles on topics for our readers on a variety of topics from home care to housesitting. In this selection we offer you a number of suitable pieces from our own blog on renovating and decorating a home.

A way to relax and sleep – Tips

Top Tips – How to improve your sleep at night

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Founder and Director of HouseSitMatch - I'm a hands-on Admin on the site. Please ask any questions and as soon as I can I'll happily answer and assist where I can.

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