These days, humanity has become accustomed to sleeping on a totally flat, comfortable mattress on top of a bed frame. It’s a standard that we have all come to accept, but it’s not the only way.
Sleeping on an incline or Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT) as it’s more commonly known, has many health benefits that often aren’t talked about. Its history dates back to the ancient Egyptians and is today used in all sorts of recovery and treatment routines for sleeping conditions.
If you’re interested in implementing this thousand-year-old sleeping tactic into your bedtime routine, keep reading as we explain the ins and outs of sleeping on an incline.
As its name implies, IBT essentially involves elevating your bed frame or mattress on the head end, causing you to fall asleep at a slight angle.
Generally, it’s recommended to elevate the bed or mattress by 6” (15cm), but it’s also worth noting that you can reach this level of degree incrementally. In turn, this should leave your bed at an incline of 5 degrees from its standard horizontal position.
Although IBT isn’t widespread, there are some benefits to be had with adopting it into a bedtime routine. Here are the main benefits of incline bed therapy:
Although sleeping gives our mind the chance to unwind and recharge, our internal organs keep working throughout the night.
When we lay flat, our food isn’t easily digested because we don’t have gravity to help us. However, with the help of IBT, gravity is better able to move food through the digestive system. This, in turn, helps prevent other unpleasant conditions like constipation.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be a real problem and is quite tricky to overcome. Caused by blocked airways in our nose and throats, sleep apnea is not only frustrating to live with, it can open our bodies up to other chronic health conditions as the situation worsens.
Sleeping on an incline benefits the respiratory system by preventing blockages that lead to sleep apnea. IBT un-obstructs the nasal passage, which can therefore help prevent snoring at night. This is great news for both our health and our partners.
Although IBT is predominately used to help treat conditions directly associated with sleep, it has also been shown to help with further neurological conditions and physical injuries.
Research has been conducted that demonstrated that people with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis (MS) or spinal cord injuries had noticeable improvements after sleeping on an incline. Despite the lack of scientific proof to support these claims, there are many testimonials out there that praise the benefits of IBT to help with their symptoms.
When we sleep, our brain has the ability to flush out ‘waste’ that accumulates throughout the day through a process called glymphatic drainage. When we lay flat, gravity isn’t working in our favour and subsequently discourages this process.
Over time, this increases pressure on our eyes, ears and sinuses. This relates to migraines too: studies have revealed that those who sleep at an incline who suffer from migraines felt improvements in several days.
Much like with our digestive system, sleeping at a flat angle often prevents good blood flow throughout our veins. People that suffer from bad circulation will often recall tingling feelings in their legs and feet throughout the night, something that can be extremely distracting while trying to fall asleep.
Sleeping on an incline helps avoid this issue by utilising gravity to help with pushing blood throughout our body.
Let’s face it: we all like to check our phones, watch TV or read a book before going to bed. Sometimes, we need to give our brains something to think about before calling it a day, so we reach for the nearest form of entertainment and binge until we sleep.
Not only does this stimulation keep our brains active, but the process by which we go about consuming this content also has a detrimental impact on our posture.
By raising the upper body into an elevated position at night, we reduce the strain that is placed on our necks while we look at our screens or read pages. Over time, this can lead to significant posture improvements, leaving us feeling more comfortable and relaxed before bed.
Despite all of these positives, there are a couple of potential risks associated with sleeping on an incline:
Although they’re quite popular, inclined baby sleepers are quite risky. Because their airways are so small and delicate, elevating a baby’s sleeping position has the potential to obstruct airways. The risk has been so high that many manufacturers like Fisher-Price have been forced to recall inclined baby sleepers due to unfortunate accidents.
As such, it is highly recommended to not practice IBT on newborns. Instead, we recommend a soft flat surface within a cot or on top of a baby mattress.
As we get older, our risk of blood clots increases. This has been attributed to other factors like weight gain and diets, but for the most part, blood clots are a universal problem that we all face to some degree.
One of the main ways to prevent blood clots is to not sleep while sitting down, as doing so increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Due to its elevated position, IBT is very similar to sleeping while seated, so it should be avoided if you are at risk of blood clots.
One way to achieve a bed incline is through an electric bed. These are great as they are simple to operate at the controls and allow you to easily alter how inclined you want your mattress to be positioned. There are also cheaper ways of achieving this, using a wedge pillow or wedge mattress underneath your current sleeping solution.
If you’re interested in trying IBT, here are a few products we recommend to get you started:
Stylish, comfortable, adaptable, the Asher 1200 from MiBed is a great choice for adopting IBT into your sleep schedule. At the push of a button, the Asher 1200 can move into a number of different positions to support your upper and lower body, as and when needed.
It comes with a mattress containing 1,200 pocket springs and multiple layers of fillings. All of which combine to give a modern take on this Egyptian sleeping practice.
So, you’ve already got an adjustable bed frame but your mattress is a little outdated. It’s important to note that not all mattresses are suitable for these customisable beds, as some mattresses are designed to be laid purely flat.
If you need an upgrade, the Sleepezee Cool Comfort is a great choice. Comprising a mixture of both pocket springs and memory foam fillings, it gives great support throughout the night and is available in custom sizes to fit your existing bed frame.
If a new bed frame or mattress is out of the question, then fear not, a firm pillow can work wonders in creating your own raised sleeping profile. Simply place one or two pillows under your body to create an artificial curve in your spine.
When doing this, you need a pillow that’s strong enough to withstand continuous pressure, yet soft enough to still be comfortable. For this, the Silentnight Eco Comfort Pillow is a strong contender. Not only is its packaging environmentally friendly, but it also comes in two different firmness ratings so you can customise your elevated sleeping position exactly how you wish.
There are plenty of other benefits about sleeping on an incline, so if you’re interested in giving it a try then you should delve deeper into your own research. It can take some people a long time to feel the benefits of sleeping on an incline, whereas others can feel benefits from the first night.
So, what do you think about Inclined Bed Therapy? Have you done it before? Or are you interested in doing it? Whatever your thoughts, if you need any further help with getting a good night’s sleep then contact us and our team of mattress experts will be happy to help.…