How to Sleep Sitting in a Chair Properly

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Have you ever had the need to take a short sleep in a place without a bed? For example, at the office, at the airport, or at someone’s house. If you’re lucky, you might find a comfortable sofa to lie down on. However, should you need to sleep upright in a chair, you can make the best of the situation and learn how to sleep sitting in a chair properly.

How to sleep in a chair? The best way to sleep in a chair is to adjust the chair to achieve better comfort. If possible, recline the chair slightly and elevate your legs to promote better circulation while sleeping. Be resourceful and try to gather as many comfortable equipment, like pillows and blankets, as possible.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that sleeping while sitting in a chair is not the most ideal position for resting. Nonetheless, with some simple tips and tricks, you may be able to get some well-deserved rest. In this post, we’ll explore some of the things you can do to better understand how to sleep on a chair.

Is It OK to Sleep in a Chair?

Is it OK to sleep in a chair? Sleeping in a chair is no problem. Assuming you are comfortable and can recline back slightly, sleeping while sitting in a chair should pose little to no risks. Harvard Medical School states sleeping in a chair isn’t harmful, provided it doesn’t interfere with getting good sleep.

While some of the best reclining home chairs can promote better sleep, sleeping on a mattress or a bed is way better than sleeping in a chair. As long as you don’t make it a long-lasting habit, and you can adjust your body properly, sleeping while sitting in a chair shouldn’t be a problem. 

How to Sleep Sitting in a Chair Properly?

While it’s generally OK to sleep in a chair, there are many things you can do to make your short break worthwhile. It’s all about being creative and resourceful. After all, you’re not planning to sleep sitting in a chair every night, would you? Here are the five simple tips on how to sleep while sitting up in a chair:

1. Prepare Comfortable Sleeping Tools

Let’s start by taking a closer look at your surroundings. You might be at the office, or maybe at the airport. Maybe you’re stuck waiting at someone’s house. Wherever you are, the first thing you need to do is to gather anything and everything that can help your sleep become more comfortable. 

When trying to sleep in a chair, it's best to start by gathering everything available to be comfortable. Pillows are very helpful.

Soft pillows are golden during this situation. Not only do they support your neck, but you can hug them to provide better comfort. A soft blanket can work wonders too. Not only do they provide warmth, but they also give you that indescribable cozy and snuggly feeling. If you travel often, be sure to bring a travel pillow.

2. Adjust Your Chair Appropriately

Next, you should assess the chair that you will sleep on, and adjust it appropriately. Obviously, this will depend on where you are and what chairs are available. For example, if you are in a vacant airport, you can lie down on top of several chairs. With that said, here are some creative ideas to adjust chairs accordingly:

  • If there are several chairs, combine them together to form a sleeping platform.
  • If the armrests are adjustable, remove or flip them up for more sleeping space.
  • If the chair reclines, adjust the angle to maximize your comfort.
  • If there’s a desk, use it to support your upper body.

If you have the luxury to work at home, or you’re able to choose the furniture at your office, the least you can do is to invest in an ergonomic office chair with a reclining feature. Not only are they perfect for working long hours, but the reclining feature will allow you to take a nap in between working sessions.

3. Elevate Your Feet

Some people prefer to elevate their legs while sleeping while sitting in a chair. You can use an ottoman, stool, luggage, or another chair to keep your feet off the floor. However, to prevent blood clots and leg cramps, it’s best to slightly recline the chair if you decide to elevate your legs. 

4. Create a Peaceful Atmosphere

Depending on where you are, there are many things that can distract you from getting a relaxing nap. If possible, try to create a peaceful atmosphere to help you rest. Making the room as dim as possible is a good way to start. You can also listen to soothing music, or use earplugs as well.

Creating a peaceful atmosphere can help when trying to sleep in a chair. If you like music, put those headphones on!

At the end of the day, creating a supportive environment for sleeping depends on each person. If, for example, you like setting up aromatherapy when napping, go for it. The goal is to achieve the calmest and relaxing atmosphere as much as possible. A peaceful atmosphere can work wonders in helping you slumber.

5. Breathe and Relax

Now that you’ve done everything you can to set up the environment, it’s important to remember to breathe and relax. Because it’s an unusual thing to do, many have difficulties coping with how to sleep sitting in a chair. One thing you can do to combat this nuisance is to employ the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

Pioneered by Harvard-trained Dr. Andrew Weil, this breathing technique involves regulating your breathing to various counts of 4,7, and 8. By doing this sequence, it lets oxygen better fill the lungs, calms the mind and relaxes muscles. In a nutshell, this is how to do the 4-7-8 breathing technique:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth while making a "whoosh'" sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of four.
  • Hold your breath to the count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth with the "whoosh" sound for eight seconds
  • Inhale again and repeat the cycle three times.

During times of stress (like sleeping uncomfortably in a chair), the nervous system becomes overstimulated, causing trouble when trying to sleep. Often described as a 'natural tranquilizer for the nervous system', the 4-7-8 breathing technique can help reduce unnecessary tension in the body, especially when trying to sleep.

Final Words

Hopefully, you are able to sleep peacefully in a comfortable bed. Nonetheless, learning how to sleep sitting in a chair, especially how to sleep while sitting up, can prove helpful when you need to take a rest in a less desired situation. Remember to control your breathing and stay relaxed. Sweet dreams! 🙂