Alconbury King Size Adjustable bed in Velvet Teal with a shallow base

Blood Pressure, Gravity and Sleep With Adjustable Beds

We have come to accept that certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, migraines, glaucoma, and even Alzheimer’s are conditions we develop as we age that can only be treated with medical support.

Recent research suggests that more can be done to relieve these symptoms simply by changing our sleeping positions. Using an adjustable bed can not only make us feel better but can help to remedy some ailments we thought were here to stay.

This post is specifically about how to use an adjustable bed to adjust your sleeping position and improve your blood pressure.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good night’s sleep brings a myriad of health benefits including reducing stress and helping us to feel better and think more clearly while awake, but experts now suggest that in some cases and for some people sleeping for eight hours at a time is not necessary to achieve this.

In fact, for some people forcing our bodies to lie flat for long periods of time can exacerbate some health conditions and put more pressure on our circulation, with gravity increasing pressure on the brain which can cause an increase in conditions such as migraines or even the risk of a blood clot or burst vessel in the brain.

Dividing sleep into several shorter periods by napping through the day can reduce this build up, but more importantly, keeping our heads elevated while we sleep can also reduce the chances of excess fluid causing significant and long term problems in the brain. An adjustable bed allows you to raise your head to just the right angle to stop this fluid build-up.

Gravity & Blood Pressure

You may have experienced sudden dizziness or feeling light-headed if you get up too soon from lying flat. This is due to a dramatic change in blood pressure in our brains, largely due to the effects of gravity. During the day, when the head is the highest point of the body, the brain receives blood due to the heart pumping against the pull of gravity and the valves in our arteries helping to control the flow of blood.

When we lie down with our heads in line with our hearts, that gravity pull is reduced meaning our hearts don’t need to pump as hard to get the blood to our brains. As a result, lying down can help you feel less dizzy as your brain receives more blood and with it more of the oxygen and sugar it needs to function properly. Lying flat in an ordinary bed means gravity works in other ways on our bodies. Both the head and legs are affected as our heart has to work harder to send blood to the legs without the help of gravity while the head receives more blood than it can easily return. As a result, fluid can build up at both extremes of the body.

An adjustable bed means we can lift both the head and legs to find the perfect angle that helps us disperse excess fluid and keep the blood circulating as normal. King size divan beds are now available that are fully adjustable, meaning you can share your bed with your partner and both can use the electric remote to adjust your side of the bed to different positions that suit you and your body.

Adjustable bed with head and leg incline

Blood flow when lying down

When we lie down, our hearts no longer have to pump against the power of gravity which means blood flows more quickly and powerfully into the head and neck. At the same time, gravity does not help the brain to send blood back down towards the heart.

This means that when lying down more blood remains pooled in the veins in our head, increasing pressure and stopping new blood from entering the brain with its much needed oxygen and sugar.

This can lead to increased fluid and pressure in the surrounding tissue of the brain as well, increasing pressure in the eyes and sinuses which can lead to conditions such as migraine, glaucoma and sleep apnea.

Increased pressure in the head can cause a number of symptoms ranging from nausea and headaches to more serious conditions too.

Raising the head with an adjustable bed so that the head is above the waist, at least six inches higher than the body, means the fluid can drain back down your neck to relieve the pressure around your sinuses. As a result, we significantly reduce our chances of developing some of these conditions. See here for more information.

Adjustable bed with head inclineThere is even research to suggest that Alzheimer’s could be impacted through long term pressure in the brain caused by excess fluid because Alzheimer sufferers are found to have larger ventricles in the brain which may have been stretched as a result of long-term build up of fluid.

This link shows a clear image of how different the ventricles look between a normal brain and that of someone with Alzheimer’s:

Brain Cross Sections alzheimers

Sleeping with your head elevated helps to reduce this pressure in the head and brain. In many cases, people will use pillows or wedges to create enough of an angle to keep their heads above their hearts, but an adjustable bed can be far more precise in helping you achieve the right position as well as making sure the elevation lasts throughout the night since pillows can move while you sleep. In addition, the electric remotes on our adjustable beds mean you can gently ease your body into the raised position to keep you comfortable the whole time.

The Brain & Blood

When the brain is desperate for new blood, the body might respond by sending even more blood which causes more pressure in the form of a migraine. It is thought that a migraine could be our body’s attempt to force out old blood and toxins by flushing the area.

Sleeping with your head raised will reduce the pooling of old blood that triggers this reaction, hopefully impacting the frequency that you experience headaches and migraines.

Similarly, sleep apnea and breathing conditions caused by both a build up of fluid and blocking the respiratory tract is improved when the head is raised. Mucus can easily drain away from the sinuses to help you sleep undisturbed.

This will give you the best chance of going through the normal stages of sleep and achieving more hours of REM and deep sleep which is needed to keep you healthy. There is also evidence to suggest that neurological problems are caused by not getting enough deep sleep that helps your brain heal and recharge properly.

Using an Adjustable Bed to Control Blood Pressure

To get the best benefits of sleeping with the head elevated, experts suggest you should aim to sleep with your head raised about six to nine inches above your heart. This might feel very odd at first, which could result in you being unable to get to sleep until your body adjusts to the new position. You can start off with a lower angle and once you get used to it then gradually increase.

An adjustable bed is a good way to help you increase the elevation gradually; using the remote, you can gently tilt the bed upwards by up a couple of inches at a time until you reach the height you want. This could be achieved over a period of time to help you arrive at the right height without feeling uncomfortable and losing too much sleep in the process.

There is also evidence to suggest that sleeping with our legs raised can be as beneficial as lifting our heads.

Adjustable Bed with leg incline

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 and this is 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, In addition, if we are already suffering from swollen ankles due to a build up of fluid thanks to gravity during the day, our circulation is blocked even more.

Raising the legs helps pooled fluid to flow out of the legs, making it easier for new blood to get around without too much resistance.

Sleeping with your legs higher than your heart can be good way to reduce swelling and improve circulation all around your body. For best results, experts suggest keeping your legs at least an inch or more above your heart.

You may also want to experiment with using your adjustable bed in the zero gravity position.

Zero Gravity Position
Zero Gravity Position

An adjustable bed with a remote can be a great way to find the right height for both your head and legs, this improves your blood flow and reduces your chances of ill health caused by blood pressure and blood flow problems.

For more general information about the other health benefits of adjustable beds please read 9 health benefits of sleeping on an adjustable bed.

Joel Chudleigh

Founder of MADE TO LAST. Very proud to be working with my Co-Founder Kinjal and our diverse range of amazing suppliers to create a retail site with a purpose. When not working I enjoy relaxing with family & friends as well as adventure sports - particularly bouldering, snowboarding & surfing as well as 5-a-side footie. Really interested in the environment and from this have been forced to learn more and get interested in politics and a bit of economics. Proud member of the Green Party.

What people are saying about this...

    1. Hi Eileen
      Thank you for your comment. It is always best to seek advice from your doctor to make sure that they agree that an adjustable bed will be helpful in your specific case.
      If they do agree then you can see the collection here:
      If you are registered disabled or have a chronic illness then you can also purchase any of our adjustable beds VAT free. There is more information on all of the adjustable bed product pages.

  1. There is a big typo in the paragraph immediately above the image labeled: Adjustable bed with head incline. Search for “head is above the head.”

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