Biohacking Your Sleep Part 9: Benefits of Sleeping on an Incline.
For babies…Bad! Inclined sleeping increases the chance of airway compression which can lead to suffocation. It’s best to have babies sleep on a breathable, firm yet cradling, and flat surface. For adults...it depends. Scientific research, medical studies, product design and sleep innovation indicate that for some people there are real benefits to sleeping on an incline.
“Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT)'' is the term commonly used today for the practice of raising one’s bed 4 to 8 inches at the head by using blocks or wedges. In theory, with the head on a slight elevation from the feet, IBT allows for proper airway flow and helps with brain detoxification. Sleeping on an incline is a simple way to improve your sleep quality and overall health. Research shows that an inclined sleep surface can reduce intracranial pressure, which can help reduce stress on the heart while sleeping. Incline sleep can offer a host of benefits, such as improved blood and oxygen circulation, relief from common ailments like acid reflux (GERD), heartburn, headaches, and snoring, and provide a deeper, more restorative sleep.
From ancient Egypt to modern hospitals, inclined sleep surfaces have been used for centuries. In recent years, the benefits of sleeping on an incline have come back into focus. From reducing acid reflux and snoring to improving circulation and reducing swelling, the advantages of sleeping on an inclined surface are becoming more widely recognized.
BENEFITS OF SLEEPING ON AN INCLINE
Gravity for Better Flow
Our lymphatic system carries white blood cells throughout the body and helps to rid the body of unwanted materials and toxins. When you sleep on an inclined surface, gravity helps to facilitate the flow of lymphatic fluid, which can lead to improved overall health. It can also help improve the circulation in your body, which can help to provide more oxygen and nutrients to the body, which helps reduce inflammation and boost your immune system.
Throughout the day, our hearts pump blood with solvents to our lungs. When our lungs exhale, it causes moisture to be released, creating denser fluid that descends to the kidneys. The kidneys filter the blood and remove solutes, which causes the blood to become less dense and rise back to the heart to be pumped again. And the cycle continues but gravity must be constantly acting on these fluids in order for the denser fluid to fall and the less-dense fluid to rise. This natural action reduces stress on the heart, lowering blood pressure, and relieving issues related to congestive heart failure, perfusion to the brain, varicose veins, and other conditions that involve pressure.
When you sleep on an inclined surface, your lungs can easily expire, allowing for better perfusion of the body. By sleeping in this position, gravity is allowing the body to have a more efficient circulatory system, with more oxygen and nutrients being transported to cells, allowing for quicker healing of the body’s organs and muscles. This allows for better quality sleep and improved overall health.
According to Dr. Tom Moorcroft D.O., approximately 90% of brain detoxification occurs while you're sleeping. Deep and slow wave sleep are deemed to be the most important phase of sleep. Anything that disrupts your normal sleep cycle has the ability to decrease your short and long-term brain health. Lack of quality sleep also leads to changes in the gut microbiome which may increase body-wide inflammation and can lead to further sleep disruptions.
Figure 3. Increased function of glymphatic clearance during sleep compared to wakefulness. [source]
Lots of biological things happen when you are asleep. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a fluid in your brain that flows and acts like a cleaner. It removes waste products and other harmful stuff you accumulated throughout the day. This process is called glymphatic drainage. It has been reported that sleeping on a flat surface can increase intracranial pressure and cause sinus, ear/eye/face pain and in some cases migraines have been triggered if you spend too much time lying flat. CSF should be flowing freely and not act like a stagnant lake. Sleeping on an incline, even as little as 5%, allows CSF to flow and cleanse the brain.
Scientists and physicians long debated why we sleep. Today we know sleep is required for better long-term memory, improved learning, repairing tissue and muscle and better mental and physical health.
When sleeping on an incline, no matter which position we sleep in, gravity is positively acting upon the digestive system by helping to move food more quickly through our intestines, which helps prevent heartburn, acid reflux, constipation and diarrhea. It is believed that sleeping on your side (lateral) position compared to sleeping on your back or stomach is more effective and promotes better digestion. When you’re feeling bloated or gassy, it’s the natural side effect of digesting food. But when that food moves through your system too slowly, the gas doesn’t have a place to go and you wind up feeling bloated. Sleeping on your left side lets gravity help waste get from the small intestine to the large intestine and travel more freely to reduce the potential of digestive difficulties.
When we lie down, our hearts require less energy to pump against the power of gravity, thus resulting in blood flowing more quickly and powerfully into the head and neck. In the same breath, without gravity to help the brain to send blood back down towards the heart, your blood tends to pool in the veins in our head. The result is increasing pressure and not allowing new blood from entering the brain with its much needed oxygen and nutrients.
Gravity affects our feet and ankles in a similar way to our brains. During the day, fluid is drawn to our lower extremities by the pull of gravity but this stops at night when we lie flat. Our hearts don’t usually have to work very hard to get blood to our feet since gravity does much of the work for us. When we are lying down, it is harder for our hearts to maintain effective circulation in our legs.
Similar to those fancy lawn chairs, zero-gravity adjustable bed bases support your body while you sleep in a neutral position with your upper and lower body perfectly balanced. While your head is lifted to sit above your heart, your legs are bent at the knee so that your thighs and torso are evenly angled from your hips. The result is a weightless feeling that can provide a more comfortable way to sleep for some. It can also help with snoring, acid reflux, and general aches and pains.
These beds are a good investment for people who suffer from allergies, obstructive sleep apnea, or snoring since they let you sleep at an angle and can facilitate better breathing. Since adjustable beds help ease joint and muscle tension, this makes them an excellent purchase for older individuals with chronic or acute pain as well as very active individuals and athletes. Additionally, these beds promote blood flow and oxygen intake, which is particularly important for bedridden seniors.
Laying on a flat surface can place strain on your neck, lower back, and hips. It can also partially obstruct your airways. Sleeping at an incline aligns your neck, spine, and hips, relieving strain. This position also clears your airways by keeping the soft tissues around the back of your throat from partially blocking the windpipe.
Using the Essentia Rize Adjustable Foundation
Essentia’s Rize adjustable foundation is the perfect complement to our Beyond Latex organic mattresses. The Rize offers full range of motion with massage function, head tilt and an exclusive lounge feature. Take sleep to the next level with dual zone massage, night glow LED lighting and wireless hand remote. Included are multiple leg configurations to provide low and standard height profiles and various incline bed positions. The Rize can be configured for inclined sleep with 4-6 inches of slope to provide optimum incline sleep benefits.