Is It Bad To Fall Asleep On The Couch?

by | Sleep Health

Do you regularly find yourself asleep on your couch? Have you ever asked yourself whether this is a healthy habit? Maybe at times you wonder why it is easy to fall asleep while watching TV on the sofa but very hard when you need to at night on your bed. If at some point in time you’ve ever woken up from that couch in the morning with a cramp in your neck, then you already might be having some inkling that your couch is certainly not the best place to fall asleep!
Man in blue robe sleeping on a couch that is too small

Generally, sleep has a critical role to play in our health, thinking, as well as learning. When you lack sufficient quantities of quality sleep, it impairs our concentration, alertness, attention, problem solving and reasoning.

Why You Should Avoid the Couch

In the simplest terms, your couch is designed for sitting, while the mattress is made for sleeping. While catching the occasional nap may not be that bad, it’s not something that you want to make a habit of. A seat cushion is generally made with denser polyurethane foams. Several even come with some kind of spring support mechanism underneath. The design has been made to resist the kind of impressions that forms when a person sits on one spot for long due to higher weight concentrations. That is, your weight is focused on one certain area rather than lying down, stretched out across the full length of the sofa/couch.

Wrong Sleeping Position

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Bed not comfy? Find something more suitable here

 

Man in blue shirt holding his lower back with two hands

Regularly sleeping on your couch can over time, strain your back and neck muscles, and can lead to serious medical conditions. Your couch has not been designed for supporting your body’s curves. Avoid that sofa when you need deep sleep! According to chiropractors and orthopedic physicians, we normally tend to sleep on our side, basically the easiest way of keeping our spine in alignment. However, the denser couch materials can cause frequent waking up during the night as you seek to readjust your body position.

The couch does not allow you to reach the recommended 4th and 5th sleep phases, during which the deepest levels of body restoration takes place. Ideally, the sleeping surface provided by a good mattress gives you ample room to support and move your body in any manner you like as you sleep. In effect, you are allowing yourself to rest in a healthy, neutral body alignment. A hard surface like the one found on a couch tends to throw your entire spine and body out of alignment. The overall effect is that when you wake in the morning, your body is full of pains, aches and deep sores.

Couch Material is not Right

Modern black sofa

A very important aspect to take into consideration is the material that forms your couch. Diverse materials will conduct heat in different ways; therefore, depending on the couch material you have, you could find yourself too cool or too warm on that sofa. In an American Sleep Poll 86% of the poll respondents indicated that comfortable beddings and sheets formed an important element towards sleeping well. Therefore, when you accidentally spend the night on your couch with no beddings or sheets, as is most likely to happen, you are denying yourself quality sleep. In the case that you are resigned to spending a night on your couch, take some time and tuck in some sheets.

It Can Trigger Back Pain

Back pain. Athletic running woman with back injury in sportswear rubbing touching lower back muscles standing on road outside.

Not everybody who is suffering or experiencing back pain can actually point to a specific injury, incident or accident that was the specific cause. This is because back pain creeps in overtime and gradually, until one day you wake up with extremely severe back pains and you have no clue as to how it reached that level. Medical research has indicated that at the root cause of most back problems is poor body mechanics and posture, all which you can avoid. For instance, when you sleep on that cramped couch, you are courting trouble as you are subjecting your spine to some great deal of abnormal stress. Over time, such stress can bring about structural changes in your spine, which may include joint degeneration, disk degeneration, and lengthening/shortening of the muscles/ligaments that support your body structure. Other adverse effects are cartilage wear and tear eventually leading to chronic back pain.

What If I Can Only Get A Good Sleep While On The Couch?

Young handsome man sleeping on couch at home, side view.

Some people find it very hard to get quality sleep when they climb into a bed, yet, it comes easily as they lie on the couch. Should you consider treatment? If the physician has ruled out health or other deeper medical issues as the trigger to your couch/bed dilemma, you could consider a number of remedies:

Prescription Medicines

Today we have lots of prescription medicines used for re-establishing regular and healthy sleep schedules. It is best to discuss the issue of prescription medicines with your physician as some could affect your daily routine.

Sleep Aids

You can try some natural sleep capsules from Luna that are 100% herbal and non habit forming before you try something like over the counter sleep drugs, which you should seek professional counsel if you decide to go this route. This is because several of these sleep drugs can leave you feeling tired and groggy in the morning.

 

Sleep Masks and Ear Plugs

If the lighting is too much in your bedroom such that it affects your sleep, why not try a sleep mask (we reviewed some to help you out in your decision)? Perhaps the noise level in your bedroom is what drives you to the couch! You could try foam ear plugs also found online at Amazon.com.

 

Natural Sleep Therapy

Before you rush to try prescription and over the counter sleep medication, try several natural sleep therapies which are effective at reducing anxiety and calms restlessness. These types of therapies encourage the cultivation of good sleep habits and they employs a number of natural methods such as taking wild lettuce, hops and lavender aromatherapy among others. Or you can try Anandi’s sleep ritual for some excellent results.

Complementary or Alternative Therapies

4 people in succession doing a yoga post in white clothing.

Some people are known to benefit from using supplements such as L-theanine, an amino acid from green tea or alternative approaches like yoga for improving sleep patterns.

Dealing with the Aftermath of Too Much Couch Sleeping

So far we have dealt with avoiding sleeping on that couch. But what happens when you have no alternative but to spend several nights on it? Maybe you are visiting for a couple of days and have to spend 3 or 4 nights on a friend’s couch in the living room. If such is your predicament, you might find yourself with sore muscles, a stiff neck and lots of shoulder tension. You could try some of the following easy steps to remedy the situation:

  • Neck stretches are ideal for loosening up those stiff muscles after a night on the couch.
  • The butterfly pose is a simple exercise that will stretch out your lower back and hips.
  • Spinal and shoulder twist is excellent as it loosens that tight spine.
  • Standing-forward-bend stretches the lower back tightness as it also stretches your tight hamstrings.

Finally, remember that in general, the best remedy is to avoid the couch altogether unless for that short and brief power nap in the afternoon or after a walk. The couch is not for night sleeping. Try and make deliberate changes in your sleeping habits and you will certainly be feeling much better in the morning.

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