Inclined bed therapy involves raising a person’s head above their feet when they are lying down. People use inclined bed therapy to ease certain health conditions. A person can use special beds, mattresses, bed risers, or pillows to sleep in an inclined position.
Inclined bed therapy aims to reduce the symptoms of certain conditions, such as acid reflux or sleep apnea. It may also help prevent some conditions, such as ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Keep reading to learn more about inclined beds, their benefits, and the conditions they can help improve.
An inclined bed is a type of bed that allows a person to sleep at an elevated angle. It raises a person’s head above their feet when they are lying down.
A person can elevate their head while lying down using various techniques, such as:
- bed risers, which attach to the legs at the top of the bed
- beds that are higher at the top than the bottom
- wedge-shaped pillows that lift the head, neck, and shoulders
- an adjustable bed that a person can set to their preferred angle
- a wedge that fits under a mattress, which allows the entire body to be at an incline
Research from 2021 looked into the effect that different sleep positions had on lung function and oxygen saturation in people with health issues preventing them from getting out of bed.
The researchers note that the participants who slept at 30–45 degree angles had significantly improved lung function and oxygen saturation compared with those who slept on their side on a flat bed. However, further research is necessary to confirm these effects in people who do not have to remain in bed.
There are a variety of conditions that inclined sleeping may improve. These conditions include:
Sleep apnea and snoring
The researchers noted that tilting people 7.5 degrees in bed reduced OSA severity by 31.8% on average. This incline level also helped reduce shallow breathing and improve sleep efficiency.
Research from 2015 studied the effect of trunk posture on a person’s blood flow. The researchers found that tilting a person’s upper trunk resulted in higher stroke volume and lower heart rate than just tilting the whole trunk. Stroke volume is the amount of blood that the heart pumps out with each beat.
The authors conclude that placing a person’s trunk at an angle of 30 degrees with their upper trunk at 60 degrees may help maintain circulatory volume.
However, this study only had male participants and a small sample size. More studies are necessary to confirm these results.
Information from the
Inclined bed therapy may help improve the symptoms of certain health conditions. If a person experiences fewer or milder symptoms, they may have better quality sleep.
If uncomfortable symptoms cause a person to wake during the night, this may interrupt the removal of CNS waste. Using inclined bed therapy may improve sleep, which can lead to more efficient waste removal.
Other breathing problems
Inclined bed therapy may be beneficial for people who use mechanical ventilation. Mechanical ventilation is a type of life support system. It takes over the process of breathing for a person who cannot breathe without assistance.
People who use mechanical ventilation may be at risk of developing ventilator-assisted pneumonia (VAP).
Inclined bed therapy also helped reduce aspiration in people on ventilators. Aspiration is when a person accidentally inhales a substance, such as food or water, into their lungs.
Although inclined bed therapy may be beneficial for those with certain health conditions, a person should never use it for their infant. Research has shown that inclined sleep products increase the risk of suffocation. If an infant rolls onto their front on an inclined sleeper, they may be unable to roll back over.
Additionally, a person should not place wedge pillows in their infant’s crib. The
- loose bedding
- soft objects
Inclined bed therapy involves a person sleeping at an angle to help improve certain medical conditions. A person can change their sleeping angle using a range of devices, including tilted beds or wedge pillows.
Inclined bed therapy can help reduce the symptoms of various conditions, including OSA and GERD.
A person should never use inclined bed therapy for an infant. Inclined sleepers can increase the risk of suffocation.
It is advisable for people with underlying health conditions to speak with a doctor before trying inclined sleep.