Should The Elderly Sleep In A Recliner

One of the chief challenges aging individuals face is achieving restful sleep. With the myriad of health issues that can arise as we age, finding the optimal sleeping position becomes paramount.

In this context, the humble recliner has been eyed by many as a potential bed substitute. But is this transition from bed to chair a wise one? This article dives deep into the pros and cons, offering a holistic understanding of the subject.

By the way, if you’re looking for the best recliners for sleeping, you might want to read the linked article.

Please note that this is not medical advice. I am just a guy who used to sell recliners for a very long time. I’m not a medical professional.

Want to know what kind of recliners doctors recommend? Please click the link.

The Physiology of Aging and Sleep

As the human body progresses through the years, various physiological alterations occur. From a decline in bone density, muscle tone, to hormonal changes affecting sleep patterns, the elderly face unique challenges when it comes to restful sleep. Addressing these needs isn’t just about comfort; it’s about health, longevity, and quality of life.

Recliners: An Overview

Recliners are essentially chairs, often plush and comfortable, designed to recline at various angles. Modern iterations come equipped with features like heating, massaging, and adjustable footrests. The appeal of the recliner is understandable, but does this comfort translate to a night of healthy sleep?

You might also want to read: Are recliners bad for your posture?

The Case for Recliners: Potential Benefits for the Elderly

  1. Easing Respiratory and Digestive Woes: For seniors grappling with sleep apnea, COPD, or GERD, sleeping upright can alleviate symptoms. Recliners naturally elevate the upper body, potentially reducing acid reflux and improving airflow.
  2. Arthritic Relief: Arthritis is a frequent companion of old age. The reclined position might reduce joint stress, especially in the lower body and spine, providing pain relief.
  3. Independence in Movement: As mobility decreases, the act of getting in and out of a traditional bed can become daunting. A recliner, being higher and more supportive, might ease this daily transition.
  4. Addressing Edema: Fluid retention and swelling in the legs, or edema, can be managed by elevating the feet, a feature inherent to many recliners.
  5. Versatility and Comfort: With adjustable settings, seniors can modify positions throughout the night to find the most comfortable posture, tailoring their sleep experience.

Before you start asking questions like “is it better to sleep in a recliner?“, please read the potential dangers of sleeping in a recliner first.

Concerns and Caveats: Potential Drawbacks of Sleeping in Recliners

  1. Stiffness and Muscular Concerns: Being in one position, even in a comfy recliner, for several hours can cause stiffness, potentially aggravating conditions like arthritis or back pain.
  2. Circulatory Considerations: Extended sitting might impede blood flow, particularly in the lower extremities, leading to circulatory issues.
  3. Skin Health: The elderly often have delicate skin. Prolonged pressure, even from a cushioned recliner, could result in pressure ulcers or skin breakdown.
  4. Sleep Depth and Quality: While a recliner might offer initial comfort, it may not support the deep REM sleep essential for cognitive health and overall wellbeing.
  5. Safety Concerns: If an elderly individual is prone to restless sleep or sleepwalking, the recliner might pose a fall risk.

Recommendations for Optimal Recliner Use

  1. Consult Healthcare Professionals: Before any shift in sleeping habits, always consult with a geriatrician or primary care physician. They can provide guidance tailored to individual health profiles.
  2. Recliner Quality Matters: If opting for a recliner, choose a high-end model with ergonomic features. Look for adjustable settings, good lumbar support, and skin-friendly materials.
  3. Routine Movement: Even if one prefers sleeping in a recliner, periodic movement is crucial. Set alarms as reminders to stretch or walk around, promoting circulation and muscle activity.
  4. Skin Checks: Regularly inspect skin for any signs of distress, like redness, tenderness, or sores. If detected early, complications can be prevented.
  5. Consider Alternatives: Recliners aren’t the only adaptive sleeping solution. Adjustable beds, for instance, offer many of the benefits of recliners without some of the drawbacks.

Conclusion: To Recline or Not?

So, should you turn your recliner into a bed? The decision of whether an elderly individual should sleep in a recliner is multifaceted. While there are tangible benefits, especially for specific health conditions, there are also potential downsides to consider. Ultimately, the decision should be grounded in individual needs, health conditions, and, crucially, expert medical advice. Whatever the choice, the goal remains the same: ensuring the golden years are graced with the restful sleep everyone deserves.

If you have more questions related to recliners, please click on the link.