The Benefits of Sleeping Inclined: Why and How to Do it

sleeping inclined

The Benefits of Sleeping Inclined

This time it’s all about hard core sleep hacking. More specifically, the benefits of sleeping inclined.

As someone who has dealt with chronic pain and insomnia for years, I can attest to the fact that a good night’s sleep is essential for managing both conditions. And while there are many different ways to improve your sleep quality, one method that I have found to be particularly helpful is sleeping inclined.

If you’re not familiar with the term “sleeping inclined,” it simply means sleeping with your head elevated above your feet. This can be done by propping up pillows or using a speciality sleep wedge or you simply raise your bed.

There are many benefits to sleeping in this position, which I will be discussing in more detail below.

What is inclined sleeping?

Inclined sleeping, also known as Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT), involves sleeping in a position where the upper body is raised higher than the normal flat position. This can be achieved by either tilting the bed frame or creating an incline slope on the head side of the mattress. The angle of elevation can vary, but typically ranges from 3 to 6 inches.

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Inclined sleeping has numerous benefits, including improved circulation, reduced symptoms of acid reflux, and better breathing. By elevating the upper body, gravity helps to keep the stomach acids down and prevent them from flowing back up the esophagus. It can also reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms by opening up the airways and improving breathing.

Additionally, inclined sleeping may aid in reducing symptoms of multiple sclerosis, spinal injuries, and cerebral palsy. Inclined sleeping is a safe and effective way to improve sleep quality and promote overall health.

Traditional Flat SleepingInclined Sleeping
Limited support for proper spinal alignmentPromotes proper spinal alignment
Can lead to acid reflux and heartburnReduces acid reflux and heartburn
May contribute to snoring and sleep apneaReduces snoring and improves breathing
Pressure points on body leading to aches and painsAlleviates aches and pains
Standard blood circulation and lymphatic drainageEnhanced blood circulation and lymphatic drainage
Limited customization options for sleep positionOffers adjustable angles and positions
Conventional sleep experienceElevated and luxurious sleep experience
Comparing Traditional Flat Sleeping and Inclined Sleeping

How does sleeping inclined help improve sleep?

Sleeping inclined can improve sleep by promoting glymphatic drainage, which is the process of clearing cellular waste from the brain during sleep. When we sleep horizontally, cerebrospinal fluid is evenly distributed across the brain, increasing intracranial pressure and decreasing the brain’s ability to clear waste. Inclined sleeping tips gravity in our favor, restoring the body’s natural orientation and improving glymphatic drainage.

Research has shown that inclined sleeping can also reduce intercranial pressure, assist the lymphatic system in removing toxins, improve blood circulation, and regulate blood pressure. Medical anthropologist Dr. Sydney Ross Singer’s study showed that inclined sleeping can also improve symptoms of migraines. Inclined sleeping is a simple and effective way to improve sleep quality and potentially prevent certain health issues.

What is Inclined Bed Therapy?

Inclined bed therapy is a sleeping therapy practice that involves raising a person’s head above their feet when they are lying down. This can be achieved by using special beds, mattresses, bed risers, or pillows to sleep in an inclined position. The aim of inclined bed therapy is to use the power of gravity to reap additional health benefits while you rest.

Rather than snoozing horizontally as you do on a flat bed, your upper torso is raised to create an incline. This can help reduce the symptoms of various conditions, including acid reflux or sleep apnea, and may even help prevent some conditions, such as ventilator-associated pneumonia. Inclined bed therapy is a safe and natural way to improve your sleep and overall health, but it’s important to speak with a doctor before trying it, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

Gravity, an ever-present force in our lives, plays a crucial role in how we function. But what if we could harness its power even during sleep? Inclined sleeping proposes just that. By slightly elevating the upper body, we challenge the pull of gravity, enabling our body to find a new equilibrium and enhancing blood circulation. This shift in perspective disrupts traditional sleep norms and opens up exciting possibilities for optimizing rest.

What are the benefits of sleeping inclined?

1. Increased blood flow to the brain

Research suggests that sleeping inclined can increase blood flow to the brain and improve circulation, which can have a positive impact on our overall health. A study from 2015 found that tilting a person’s upper trunk resulted in higher stroke volume and lower heart rate than just tilting the whole trunk. The authors concluded that placing a person’s trunk at an angle of 30 degrees with their upper trunk at 60 degrees may help maintain circulatory volume.

Information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that tilted sleeping may benefit people who have high blood pressure when lying down.

Sleeping inclined can also improve the brain’s ability to flush out waste through a process called glymphatic drainage, which can reduce pressure on the eyes, ears, and sinuses. It can even help with Alzheimer’s as it is connected to Glymphatic clearance. Studies have shown that even a slight elevation of 5 degrees can improve the glymphatic system’s function. Overall, sleeping inclined can have numerous health benefits, and a 30-degree angle with the upper trunk at 60 degrees is recommended.

2. Improved sleep quality

Sleeping inclined, with the head of the bed raised by 6 inches, can improve the quality of your sleep in several ways.

  • it can reduce snoring and sleep apnea by keeping the airway open and reducing pressure on the sinuses and airway.
  • it can alleviate acid reflux by keeping stomach acid in the stomach and preventing it from flowing back up into the esophagus.
  • it can improve circulation and reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

The angle of inclination affects your body position by shifting your center of gravity and reducing pressure on your lower back. To adjust your sleeping position, simply raise the head of your bed by a few inches using bed risers or an adjustable bed frame. With this simple sleep biohacking, you can improve your sleep quality and wake up feeling more rested and refreshed.

3. Reduced snoring

If you or your partner snore, elevating the head of your bed may help. Sleeping on an inclined bed or using a wedge pillow can reduce the effects of sleep apnea and keep snoring to a minimum. When we lie flat, gravity can narrow our airways, leading to restricted breathing and snoring.

An inclined bed unblocks the nasal passage, improves chest and lung expansion, and reduces shallow breathing, leading to better oxygen intake and improved sleep quality.

4. Increased oxygen levels

Sleeping on an inclined surface can increase oxygen levels in the body by improving breathing and promoting better blood flow. Nose breathing produces nitric oxide gas, which increases the lung’s oxygen absorption capacity. Sleeping elevated makes easier to breathe through your nose, minimizing shortness of breath. Additionally, sleeping elevated, with both your head and feet raised in the zero-gravity position promotes blood flow to your heart and helps your circulatory system work more efficiently.

5. Reduced heartburn symptoms

Sleeping inclined can help reduce heartburn symptoms by using gravity to keep stomach acid where it belongs, instead of letting it creep up into the esophagus. This can be achieved by elevating the upper body 6 to 8 inches higher than the feet, which can be done by using a solid block under the head of the bedframe or an adjustable bed. Inclined sleeping allows gravity to keep the acid in the stomach, aiding digestion by keeping food moving downward through the stomach.

Studies have shown that people who sleep on an incline experience improved acid reflux symptoms compared to those who lay flat, and also tend to sleep better due to the relief of symptoms.

6. Increased digestion and elimination

Sleeping inclined can help alleviate these issues by allowing gravity to assist in moving food through the digestive system, keeping stomach acid in the stomach, and facilitating the flow of lymphatic fluid. With a 5-degree inclined angle, waste products can be efficiently removed, leading to better nerve function and overall health. Improved circulation and reduced stress on the heart can also result from sleeping inclined.

Better digestion and elimination can lead to reduced inflammation, improved immune system, and quicker healing of the body’s organs and muscles. It is important to prioritize good digestion and elimination for overall health and quality of life.

7. Reduced swelling and edema

While elevating the legs can help improve circulation and reduce swelling, sleeping inclined can also be beneficial for reducing edema. According to medical experts, sleeping with the head of the bed elevated can help reduce the accumulation of fluid in the legs, ankles, and feet.

This is because gravity helps to move the fluid away from the lower extremities and towards the heart and kidneys, where it can be eliminated from the body. In addition, sleeping inclined can also help reduce acid reflux symptoms, as it helps to keep stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus.

8. Improved spinal cord injury recovery

Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT) has been shown to have potential benefits for those with spinal cord injuries. Research has demonstrated that sleeping in an inclined position can alleviate symptoms associated with spinal cord injuries by reducing pressure off the nerves. According to a study published in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, individuals with spinal cord injuries who slept on an inclined bed for 8 weeks showed significant improvements in their quality of life.

Another study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that IBT improved muscle spasticity and bowel function in individuals with spinal cord injuries. The reduction of pressure on the spine and surrounding nerves can also help reduce inflammation and pain.

9. Improved sinus congestion and drainage

If you’re sick and struggling to sleep due to sinus congestion and pressure, sleeping inclined may be the solution you need. When you lie flat, your sinus passages can’t drain properly, leading to extra sinus and head pressure. However, sleeping with your head and upper body elevated can assist drainage, allowing mucus to flow more easily and helping you sleep more peacefully.

10. Improved lung function

Research has shown that sleeping at a 30-45 degree angle can significantly improve lung function and oxygen saturation in people with health issues preventing them from getting out of bed, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with COPD may have unhealthy or enlarged lungs, which flatten their diaphragm, making it more difficult to breathe.

Sleeping on a flat surface can worsen respiratory disorders, including sleep apnea and snoring. However, elevating the body can reduce symptoms and improve sleep.

11. Increased brain cleansing system

Research has shown that sleeping in an inclined position can improve the brain’s cleansing system, known as the glymphatic system. The glymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins from the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and nourishes the brain. When a person sleeps in an inclined position, even as little as 5 degrees, the glymphatic system functions better, promoting better sleep and reducing sleep disturbances.

During sleep, the glymphatic system activates and creates a cleansing wave that moves through the brain, removing toxins that have built up during the day. This wave is most effective during slow wave sleep, which is the stage of sleep that occurs during stage 3 non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

Therefore, by improving sleep quality through inclined sleep, the glymphatic system can better detoxify the brain, reducing the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegeneration.

12. Improved cognition and memory with Alzheimer’s

Sleep is an essential aspect of our lives, and getting consistent deep sleep can enhance our cognitive abilities, memory, and overall well-being. Recent research has suggested that sleeping at an inclined angle may improve brain detoxification, which, in turn, can boost cognitive function and memory.

The glymphatic system is responsible for controlling the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which helps in the detoxification process. Research has shown that the glymphatic system is most effective during slow-wave sleep, which is the stage of sleep when the body promotes deep, restorative sleep and greater brain detoxification. Inclined bed therapy is believed to improve sleep quality by supporting the glymphatic system detoxification process, healthy circulation, reducing pressure on the sinuses/airway, and more.

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According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, inclined bed therapy improved the symptoms of patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and progressive supranuclear palsy. The study found that sleeping at an inclined angle improved the overall quality of sleep and reduced the severity of symptoms in patients with these conditions.

Another study published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation found that inclined bed therapy reduced pain and improved quality of life in patients with chronic low back pain. The study also reported that inclined sleeping improved the quality of sleep and reduced the need for pain medication.

Inclined bed therapy is a promising method that can improve cognition, memory, and overall well-being by promoting better sleep quality. Although the evidence to support the theory of inclined sleeping directly affecting the detoxification process is somewhat present, it is believed that promoting better sleep through inclined bed therapy helps boost the detoxification process. Further research is needed to determine the long-term effects of inclined bed therapy on cognitive function and memory.

12. Multiple sclerosis and inclined bed therapy

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. While there is no cure for MS, various therapies and lifestyle modifications are employed to manage symptoms and improve quality of life for individuals living with the condition.

One intriguing approach that has gained attention in recent years is Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT). Let’s explore the potential benefits of IBT specifically for individuals with multiple sclerosis in a two-column format:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT)
Neurological Symptoms: MS can cause a range of neurological symptoms, such as muscle weakness, spasticity, and coordination issues.Improved Blood Circulation: IBT may enhance blood circulation, potentially benefiting individuals with MS by promoting nutrient and oxygen delivery to the affected areas and reducing inflammation. This improved circulation may help alleviate some neurological symptoms.
Fatigue: Fatigue is a common symptom experienced by individuals with MS, impacting daily functioning and overall well-being.Reduced Fatigue: IBT has been reported to help alleviate fatigue in some individuals. By enhancing blood flow and promoting better sleep quality, IBT may contribute to reducing fatigue levels experienced by individuals with MS, leading to increased energy and improved daily functioning.
Sleep Disturbances: Many individuals with MS experience sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns.Improved Sleep Quality: IBT has shown potential in improving sleep quality for various individuals. By promoting better blood and lymphatic circulation, IBT may contribute to a more restful sleep, reducing sleep disturbances and enhancing overall sleep quality for individuals with MS.
Bladder Dysfunction: MS can cause bladder dysfunction, leading to urinary frequency, urgency, or incontinence.Potential Bladder Benefits: While research specific to MS is limited, some anecdotal reports suggest that IBT may have a positive impact on bladder function. By promoting better circulation and lymphatic drainage, IBT may help regulate bladder function and reduce urinary symptoms in individuals with MS.

Note: It’s important to highlight that the potential benefits of Inclined Bed Therapy for individuals with multiple sclerosis are based on limited research and anecdotal evidence.

What is the best way to sleep inclined?

The recommended angle for incline is between 5 and 7 degrees, which is just enough to allow for proper airway flow and brain detoxification. You may need to adjust your pillows or bedding to ensure that you’re comfortable and properly supported. Some people find that using a wedge pillow or elevating just the upper body with pillows can be helpful.

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However, it’s important to note that not everyone may benefit from IBT, and some people may experience soreness during the adjustment period.

In conclusion, sleeping on an incline is a simple and free way to improve your sleep quality and overall health. To get started,

  • elevate the head of your bed safely using blocks, wedges, or risers, even books and aim for an incline of 5 to 7 degrees.
  • Adjust your pillows or bedding as needed for comfort and support.
  • With regular use, you may experience improved digestion, reduced snoring, better circulation, and a deeper, more restorative sleep.


How do you adjust an inclined bed?

Adjusting a bed to an inclined position can be done in a few different ways. The goal is to create a slope from the head of the bed downward to the foot of the bed, while maintaining a flat bed surface. Here are some step-by-step instructions:

  1. Determine the desired angle: The recommended incline for an inclined bed is between 3-5 degrees. This can be achieved by raising the head of the bed by about six inches.
  2. Elevate the head of the bed: There are several ways to do this. You can use bed risers, blocks, or wood to elevate the head of the bed by 6-9 inches. You can also use a mattress elevator made with CertiPUR foam that slides under the whole mattress to create a gentle slope.
  3. Ensure stability: Adding 3-inch risers to the center legs of the bed frame can offer additional stability. You can also use books, bricks, or wood pieces, but make sure they are secure.
  4. Test it out: Start with a 6-inch rise and work your way up to the desired incline. It may feel strange at first, but make sure you are comfortable enough to get a good night’s sleep.

Are there any risks associated with sleeping inclined?

While there are many potential benefits of sleeping on an incline, there are also some risks to consider. Inclined beds can increase the risk of airway compression, which can lead to suffocation, especially in babies. Additionally, adults at a higher risk of blood clots should consult with their doctor before using Inclined Bed Therapy, as the elevated position is similar to sleeping while seated, which can increase the chance of developing deep vein thrombosis.

To avoid these risks, it’s important to ensure that babies sleep on a breathable, firm yet cradling, and flat surface and that adults consult with their doctor before using inclined beds. It’s also recommended to raise the head of the bed in small increments to make the adjustment easier.

Does inclined sleeping help with sleep apnea?

Inclined sleeping can be helpful for sleep apnea sufferers. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes breathing to stop and start during the night, often due to an obstruction in the airways. Inclined beds can help alleviate the effects of sleep apnea by reducing snoring and mouth breathing, and preventing blockages in the nasal passage.

While some people may experience soreness during the adjustment period, inclined sleeping can ultimately offer much-needed relief for those with sleep apnea and other respiratory disorders.

Is it good to sleep on incline?

Sleeping on an incline can offer a host of benefits for some people, it can reduce intracranial pressure, which can help reduce stress on the heart while sleeping. Inclined bed therapy (IBT) allows for proper airway flow and helps with brain detoxification.

From ancient Egypt to modern hospitals, inclined sleep surfaces have been used for centuries, and the advantages of sleeping on an inclined surface are becoming more widely recognized. While some people may experience soreness during the adjustment period, many people with back pain say it helps ease their discomfort over time. Overall, sleeping on an incline can improve sleep quality and overall health, making it a simple way to boost your well-being.


By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.