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Sleeping in chair. There are many reasons why people sleep in a chair. Sometimes, a person might just fall asleep in the chair because he is tired. But there are medical problems that could be helped by sleeping in a chair. A recliner often works best.
Reasons: Acid reflux (chronic heartburn)
Left side: Also in heartburn, sleeping on your left side may reduce symptoms. It reduces esophageal relaxations.Sleep, Left Side
Acid reflux. The first reason why a person might try sleeping in a chair is acid reflux, also called GERD. This condition is caused by a weakened esophageal sphincter muscle. Stomach acid goes into the esophagus and causes pain.
However: When the person remains standing or seated, the stomach acid stays in the stomach.
Note: Please see more information about GERD and sleeping in a chair further down the page.
Heart failure. This is another reason why someone might want to try sleeping in a chair. Heart failure is a common problem and it is categorized in four different levels, with one being minor and four being severe.
In heart failure, people often have problems breathing when lying flat. One time a physician told me that it is characteristic for people who have heart problems to avoid lying flat. They gasp for breath when flat.
Note: Obviously, heart failure is a serious condition and should be treated with a physician's help.
Back pain is another reason why people try sleeping in a chair. I have been interested in back pain because it is hard to understand: it is sometimes thought not to be a structural problem but a nerve, muscle or sensory problem.
Changing positions at night can improve back pain or eliminate it. Sleeping in a recliner at night is one thing to try. Again, a doctor's advice is worthwhile if your pain is severe enough to consider sleeping in a chair at night.
Sleep apnea. Another condition that leads people to try sleeping in a chair is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing at night. It causes shallow breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is often caused by being overweight.
Note: Excess body weight reduces the airway size when lying down. Excess tissues press down on the airway.What Is Sleep Apnea?
In obstructive sleep apnea, sleeping in a chair can help because it keeps you more upright. The throat tissues cannot then press down on your breathing passages. This makes breathing easier.
Other breathing problems, such as COPD, may be helped by sleeping upright. Other conditions such as GERD also can cause breathing problems. They too are helped by sleeping upright as in a chair.
Fatigue. There is another reason that people will fall asleep in chairs—tiredness or fatigue. If you have not been sleeping enough, or have not consumed your normal amount of coffee, you may be fatigued enough to fall asleep right in your chair.
Being tired is not a medical condition unless it is excessive. Some problems like narcolepsy could cause you to fall asleep in your chair. If you have hypothyroidism, you may have a degree of fatigue so great that you fall asleep.
Caution: Please do not drive if you are falling asleep unexpectedly, or if your sleep has become seriously disrupted.
Heartburn, recliner. Are you experiencing heartburn nightly while in bed? This may persist even if you raise the pillow. By sleeping in a recliner or similar chair, you can reduce heartburn at night even further. This provides more restful sleep.
Sleeping in a chair at night will likely reduce your heartburn. This is true even if you had eaten recently before going to sleep. Doctors often recommend sleeping with the pillow raised.
But: Sleeping in a recliner chair may ensure that your head and upper body is more raised.
Also: There is less chance you will slip down the pillow and actually sleep flat when you are sleeping on a chair.
Story. This is my personal experience with chronic and severe heartburn and sleeping in a chair at night. I had bought a memory foam wedge pillow. This was inadequate due to my sleeping habits. I move about a lot at night.
I found that my heartburn was greatly relieved when sleeping in a recliner chair. I could sleep longer at night without waking and taking antacids such as Tums. This, with Prilosec, improved my health with my chronic heartburn condition.Prilosec Versus Tums: Heartburn Treatments
Tip: Sleeping in a chair alleviates some symptoms of heartburn. This technique is recommended in some form by doctors.
And: Physicians say that you can use extra elevation on your bed. Sleeping in a recliner chair is effective.
Recliners. A recliner chair such as a La-Z-Boy chair is ideal. Sleeping on a couch or less-horizontal chair is not as comfortable or does not provide enough head elevation. Sleeping in a chair is often not as comfortable as sleeping in a bed.
Also, it is possible to buy a hospital bed and sleep in that with your head raised. Some heartburn sufferers have said this is best for them. A good hospital bed for the home is often expensive.
Tip: You can try a recliner to test the incline. This helps you see if a more specialized bed would help.
Summary. Many reasons exist why people fall asleep in chairs or choose to sleep in them. Some of these problems include acid reflux, heart disease, back pain and sleep apnea. If you fall asleep unexpectedly, this could be a worrisome sign.