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Health & Longevity

Sleeping With Feet Elevated: Pros & Cons

We often hear advice about how to improve our rest through the night. This is especially true as we age and navigate the changing needs of our bodies. However, many people may give advice without fully knowing the ins and outs of their suggestions.

If you’ve been told to try sleeping with your feet elevated, you may be wondering whether or not that’s actually a good idea. Here’s a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping with your feet elevated.

What Are the Benefits of Sleeping With Your Feet Elevated?

By elevating your legs, you can support many of the essential systems within your body, including your muscular and circulatory systems. It can even help support heart health. Here are a few more pros of sleeping with your feet elevated.

Soothes Swelling

There are many reasons we may experience swelling throughout the day, such as standing for long periods of time or eating high-sodium diets. Swelling in the hands and feet is referred to as edema and is essentially caused by fluid build-up in the body tissue.

By elevating your feet, you can actually send the blood back to the heart via gravity. This can help soothe swelling, as well as the discomfort that comes with it.

Supports Circulation

Elevating your legs can also support the overall circulatory system. This can be especially helpful for individuals with cold hands and feet or people who experience discomfort from varicose veins, which can cause itching and pain.

By elevating your legs at night, you can help encourage blood flow through the body, which may reduce the likelihood of varicose veins developing. Additionally, poor circulation can contribute to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition that can eventually lead to a blockage in the heart, lungs, or brain.

Eases Muscle Tension

Supporting your circulation can also help address irritation and muscle pain. It can help to ease the swelling that can occur following activity or exercise, and many athletes actually elevate their legs as a form of post-workout recovery.

Sleeping with your legs elevated can also help ease the pressure on these larger muscles, which can support the natural healing process and soothe muscle tension.

Calms Back Discomfort

If you experience discomfort in your back, you may want to try sleeping with your legs elevated. Relieving pressure on the legs can help ease discomfort from conditions like sciatica, which is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. It may also be helpful for soothing discomfort associated with conditions like arthritis, scoliosis, and even herniated discs.

Sleeping on your back can put pressure on your lower spine, which can contribute to discomfort. By elevating your legs, you can help relieve some of that pressure, which can help both ease discomfort and support your posture throughout the day.

Supports the Natural Healing Process

If you have experienced acute injury or you’re healing from a procedure or surgery, elevating your legs at night can be very helpful. During the healing process, your body sends extra white blood cells to the injured area, which can lead to a temporary increase in swelling and discomfort, especially when the swelling puts extra pressure on the nerves.

By elevating the swollen limb or area, you can help ease some of that swelling, soothing discomfort and supporting the natural healing process.

What Are the Drawbacks of Sleeping With Your Legs Elevated?

There are many benefits of elevating your legs at night, but are there any drawbacks? The good news is that the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to sleeping with elevated legs. That said, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before settling in for the night.

It Can Worsen Restless Leg Syndrome

It can be hard to get comfortable and stay in the right position through the night if you experience restless leg syndrome (RLS). Restless leg syndrome is a neurological condition that essentially causes discomfort in the legs, which can send your body signals to move them through the night.

Keeping your legs elevated throughout the night may exacerbate this condition. If you have restless leg syndrome, you may want to consult your doctor before adjusting your sleeping position.

It Can Be Hard To Change Positions

This can also be true if you’re simply a sleeper who moves around a lot. If you tend to stay in one position all night long, elevating your legs is relatively easy. Once you’re comfortable, you likely won’t have to move around too much.

That said, if you’re a more restless or anxious sleeper, or if you’re someone who swaps positions through the night, you may find that elevating your legs makes it harder to get the rest you need.

You May Wake Up in the Night

Lastly, elevating the legs may affect the ability of some sleepers to stay asleep all night long. This is especially true if you tend to move around a lot and suddenly find yourself constricted or confined by more pillows and blankets on the bed.

While there are many benefits to sleeping with your legs elevated, it’s often more important to get a full night’s sleep, which means elevating the legs at night might not work for you. If you find yourself waking often in the night due to the discomfort from elevation, consider elevating for just 20 minutes before you fall asleep and removing your props when you turn out the light.

The Bottom Line

Sleep is essential to our overall health and wellness, but it can be quite personal, as well. We all sleep differently, and our needs may change as we age. One way we can support healthy sleep as we age is by elevating our legs during the night.

By elevating the legs, you can help support circulation, ease swelling, and soothe muscular discomfort. Elevation can also help ease back pain and support the natural healing process after injury. There are very few side effects of elevating your legs at night, and most can be addressed with a change in routine or sleeping environment.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to your nighttime elevation needs, consider a home hospital bed from Transfer Master. With an adjustable home hospital bed, you can achieve a comfortable level of elevation all night long, and you won’t have to worry about kicking any props off the bed.

To learn more about our beds, request a quote today

Sources:

Edema – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) | Cleveland Clinic

Sciatica | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Restless Legs Syndrome | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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