Pain at night is often the result of being unable to remove pressure and tension from the parts of our bodies that are affected by ill health and pain.
An adjustable bed allows the user to place it in a zero gravity position which perfectly distributes the bodies weight so that no particular joint is more stressed than any other – this gives us the feeling of weightlessness or zero gravity.
The zero gravity seating position was first discovered by scientists at NASA when studying the impact of take off and landing in a spacecraft on the spines and bodies of their astronauts.
We can thank NASA scientists for not only giving us the memory foam mattress but now also adjustable beds too!
The zero gravity position is roughly shown in this diagram below.
The thighs are supported at an angle of about 126° (give or take 7° either way to allow for personal weight differences) from the spine – think of the hips as the pivot point:
Sleeping on an adjustable bed in the zero gravity position relieves pressure from the spine and at the same time increases blood circulation so can benefit various health conditions.
In Zero Gravity, the head is raised a bit, and the knees slightly bent as the legs are raised to about heart level. This sleeping position encourages health and better sleep by encouraging the body’s natural capability to relax as gravity is evenly distributed through the body, so reducing pain.
NASA uses the position to minimise the centrifugal forces that impact the body as a spacecraft leaves the earth’s atmosphere.
In this article we will take a brief look at the health conditions where the zero gravity position can have a positive impact.
When the body is placed in the perfect zero-gravity position, it opens the airways and restricts the tongue from slipping back during the night. Narrow airways and the tongue slipping back are what cause snoring so sleeping on an adjustable bed in the zero gravity position greatly helps this. The study Effect of Body Posture on Pharyngeal Shape and Size in Adults With and Without Obstructive Sleep Apnea backs this theory.
This research compares the night posture of people with OSA and control subjects of the same BMI, gender and age to see if there is any change in the size and shape of the upper airway. Researchers concluded that by raising the head when sleeping and therefore increasing air circulation in/out of the body reduced obstructive sleep apnea.
Using an adjustable bed reduces snoring and can also improve more serious conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea and all the disadvantages and risks associated with this medical condition, like heart disease and tiredness.
Reduces asthma symptoms
According to a study on the night-time sleeping position of people with asthma, it was demonstrated that using an adjustable bed to keep the head above heart level reduces some of the most important symptoms related to the medical condition.
The research observed that one hour in this position relieves chest tightness and coughing, and 90 minutes was enough to stabilise the cough. After three hours, the rest of the symptoms settled except for the chest pain.
Among the most important benefits are waking up less frequently during the night, and a reduction in the need for anti-asthma medicine during the night and even work limitations the following day.
Neck and back pain
A standard flat bed does not work perfectly with the body’s S-shaped spinal column. Pressure is concentrated on the hips and shoulders. This can cause, or acerbate, neck and back pain.
Sleeping on an adjustable bed in the zero gravity position allows for the weight of the body to be evenly distributed on the joints and to relieve pressure on the spinal column. Less pressure reduces pain in the back and neck.
Acid reflux and heartburn
Acid reflux and heartburn tend to be less painful during the day as we spend a lot of time seated and standing and therefore gravity prevents our stomach acid from reaching many parts of the stomach. During the night however, the regular horizontal position doesn’t prevent the acid from travelling and injuring the walls of the stomach and the oesophagus so we feel more pain.
Therefore it is a simple idea that raising the head whilst sleeping will reduce the impact of acid reflux.
A study called Effect of Bed Head Elevation During Sleep in Symptomatic Patients of Nocturnal Gastroesophageal Reflux found that the body position plays an important role in relieving heartburn and reflux, stating that
“our study reveals a significant reduction in nocturnal acid exposure and acid clearance time with improvement of symptoms and sleep disturbances. Therefore lifestyle modification that involves bed head elevation could be helpful in patients of symptomatic nocturnal reflux by reducing the severity of symptoms and may give a synergistic effect along with proton pump inhibitors.”
Although adding an extra pillow may help a little it can leave us sleeping in an awkward position and cause neck pain, so an adjustable bed provides the best solution as the user will be kept comfortable and fully supported throughout the night.
Prevents circulatory and heart diseases
Circulatory diseases are the result of veins becoming weakened and poor blood flow. Elevating the legs with an adjustable bed improves blood flow considerably and prevents veins from losing elasticity and also against medical conditions such as clogged veins and thrombosis.
According to Changes in aortic blood flow induced by passive leg raising predict fluid responsiveness in critically ill patients, the neutral body posture’s leg elevation increases the amount of blood that reaches the heart and, in turn, the muscle pumps up to 12% more blood to the limbs.
As a result, the veins in the body remain healthier for longer, there are less blood pressure problems and the heart takes less effort to supply the entire body with enough blood to sustain the whole circulatory system.
The study The effects of leg elevation to reduce leg oedema resulting from prolonged standing expressed “a good correlation was found between the displaced volume and increasing angle of leg elevation.”
The study performed on women who had been standing for more than 4 hours elevated their legs at 30, 45, 60 and 90 degrees to understand which was the angle that reduced oedema best. As a result, the most effective angle was 30 degrees which is the same elevation as the one of zero-gravity position.
The effect of gravity carries more blood to the lower limbs. When people raise their legs, the blood flow to the lower part of the body decreases and it reduces pain. Therefore, doctors recommend leg elevation for people with oedema, varicose veins and others.
For more general information about the other health benefits of adjustable beds please read 9 health benefits of sleeping on an adjustable bed.