Sleeping with your legs lifted or elevated has many benefits. You may choose to sleep in this position to ease an existing issue, as well as preventing future problems with your body. However, it’s essential to use this position correctly to avoid unnecessary damage.
Like with anything related to your health, it’s always good to talk to your doctor about any lifestyle changes you want to make. And sleep positions are no exception.
At Opera Beds, we’ve long been recognised as trusted experts for adjustable beds and mattresses, dedicated to providing stylish, quality beds that promote health and enhance lives.
If you decide that you’d like to sleep with your legs elevated and need some help, we have a wide selection of beds available for you to use. Our profiling care beds have an elevating back and leg rest, designed to help you elevate your legs easily when needed.
What are the benefits of sleeping with your legs elevated?
There are many benefits to sleeping with your legs raised - particularly if you have a health issue affecting the area.
We’ve listed some of the main benefits of sleeping with your legs elevated here - if you find that you need any extra information, contact us and we’ll be happy to help!
Sleeping with your legs elevated can reduce swelling
Having your legs raised above the rest of your body can reduce swelling in your feet and legs (known as oedema). Oedema is a term used when the body swells up due to a build-up of fluid - it usually affects extremities such as your arms, legs and feet. By elevating your legs as you sleep, you can reduce the discomfort and pain this may bring, as well as reduce the swelling.
It can also soothe any muscle tension you may have by removing pressure. If you’re on your feet a lot during the day, it’s a good way to relieve tension while you’re sleeping. Oedema can be made worse by standing or sitting in the same position, which is something that you can ease by elevating your legs as you sleep.
Raising your legs while you sleep can improve circulation
With your legs lifted, your blood flows towards your organs, which improves overall circulation throughout your body.
This has several benefits, including the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is caused by a blood clot in the veins of the lower parts of your body, which can cause serious harm and required urgent medical attention.
Pulmonary embolisms can also occur - this is when a piece of the clot breaks off and reaches your lungs, by travelling through your veins. If you have any health issues that put you at risk for blood clotting, elevating your legs whilst sleeping can help to mitigate the risk.
Sleeping with your legs lifted relieves back pain
If you suffer from chronic back pain or issues with your sciatic nerve, sleeping on your back with your legs raised can help to relieve pain and take the pressure away from your lower back.
Sleeping on your back with your legs laid straight puts pressure on your lower back, which may result in more back pain over time. By elevating your legs as you sleep, you will take some of the pressure off, relieving your lower spine.
You can also improve your spine alignment by raising your legs. Spines are naturally curved and sleeping on your back as normal can cause more discomfort.
If you have pain when sleeping on your back, one of our adjustable beds could help you to alleviate the pain.
FAQs about sleeping with your legs raised
How do I effectively elevate my legs in bed?
Whatever you use to raise your legs, you want to make sure your legs are elevated above your heart and that you are comfortable.
Here are some ways you can do this:
Use pillows to sleep with your legs raised
If you’re experimenting with raising your legs while you sleep, use spare cushions, or invest in a wedge pillow.
This option is great for those who don’t move much in the night, but if you do move around, they can shift and become uncomfortable and unsupportive.
Use a folded blanket to raise your legs in bed
You could also use a folded blanket to raise your legs. This option is more stable than stacking pillows, but it may not give you the elevation you need to see any benefits.
Pillows are a better option here, however you can try a blanket if you wish.
Invest in an adjustable bed to elevate your legs
An adjustable bed is the most effective way to elevate your legs as they are designed to support you in this position and won’t require a balancing act during the night, like with pillows and cushions.
An electric adjustable bed usually comes with a handset (and some even have a mobile app) that you can control and customise your perfect sleep position. If you sleep with a partner, you can also get dual adjustable beds that allow you both to have control over your own sides.
At Opera Beds, we have a wide selection of adjustable beds available for every need, which can be customised to your personal requirements. Another option is to purchase a leg trough - troughs are supportive leg braces that help to reduce pressure and increase comfort when lying down.
Where does the fluid go when you elevate your legs?
Gravity works with you and the fluid drains from the highest part of your body (your legs) to the lower part of your body (your upper body). This is good for improving circulation and digestion.
If your leg is raised higher than the area where your heart is, the fluid will move towards it, due to gravity. The more swelling you have, the longer you may need to keep your legs elevated. For more information, speak to your local GP or a medical practitioner.
I sleep on my side. Can I sleep with my legs elevated?
Sleeping on your side isn’t an ideal position for raising your legs. If you elevate your legs on your side, it could affect your spine and cause discomfort.
One way to still reap the benefits of leg elevation is to do it during other times of the day when you’re sitting down – for example in front of the TV, reading or working.
If you find it hard to keep your legs raised for a long period of time, consider raising them for short bursts of time, as this should still help.
What are the risks of sleeping with your legs elevated?
As with any sleep position, there are some risks if your body is not positioned correctly or due to other health factors.
Firstly, for some people, sleeping on your back is not a natural position, and it can take a while to get used to. Trying out this position could mean you are uncomfortable and reduce the quality of your sleep for a period.
Meanwhile, if you wish to change positions during the night, it may be challenging to do this if you have pillows lifting your legs. Of course, this issue would not affect you too much if you had an electric adjustable bed that you can easily reposition.
Again, it’s always best to speak with your doctor if you’re concerned, especially if you have pre-existing conditions. If not done correctly, sleeping with your legs elevated could cause further issues later down the line.