It’s a common occurrence for people to take a nap on the sofa or occasionally nod off in front of the television and spend the night on the couch. Although you may not think this is necessarily a bad thing, a common question that’s often raised is whether sleeping on the couch is a good or a bad idea.
The fact of the matter is that falling asleep on the couch is a bad idea, and many risk factors come with nodding off on the couch, especially if it happens regularly.
Risk factors that go hand-in-hand with sleeping on the couch include disturbed sleep, muscle strain, upper back problems, and a sore neck.
So, what can you do to avoid falling asleep on the couch, and is it ever a good idea? Let’s find out more.
Sleeping on The Couch – Is it a Bad Idea?
As I have just touched on, many factors can result from sleeping on the couch, some of which can end up as long-term health problems and others that are simply ill-advised.
1. Neck Problems
Most couches aren’t designed to provide a comfortable night’s sleep, and there is a reason your mattress usually has a flat base. Falling asleep on the couch will often mean that you’re in a position where your neck is crooked, usually propped on the armrest of the couch. This will cause you to wake up with a stiff neck, leading to chronic neck pain over time.
2. Lack of Support
Couches simply aren’t designed for a comfortable night’s sleep; the armrests are restrictive, the cushions mean that your spine isn’t aligned, forcing you into an incorrect sleeping position, and can also mean that there is pressure being put on certain parts of the body such as the back, shoulders, neck, and hips, leading to chronic neck and shoulder pain.
3. Sleeping Position
The best sleeping position recommended to avoid muscle strain and protect your organs is to sleep with your spine aligned, which is almost impossible on most couches, no matter how comfortable they seem.
Sleeping on the couch often forces you to sleep with a curved spine due to the dip in the middle of the cushions or because you’re leaning against the back of the sofa.
It also causes you to toss and turn while trying to adjust your sleeping position, which can lead to waking up throughout the night in discomfort.
Sleeping on the couch is pretty unhygienic when you think about it. You eat on them, sit on them, and if you have kids or pets, they’re likely to have wiped germs all over the place, so when you come to put your head down on it for the night, you can imagine what kinds of bacteria you’ve got your face against. This exposure can lead to conditions such as spots, bacterial infections, allergies, and viruses.
5. Raised Body Temperature
Sleeping on the couch is likely to cause you to become too hot while you sleep. While mattresses are designed to circulate the air to keep us cool through the night, couches don’t have this added benefit. They also lack breathability, meaning the chances of you waking up in a hot sweat during the night are increased.
What you wear to bed regarding material is essential to a comfortable night’s rest, and this isn’t just regarding your pajamas. The same rule applies to your mattress, pillow, and sheets. Unfortunately, your couch is unlikely to be made of any of the recommended materials that aid a good night’s slumber.
Can Sleeping on The Couch be a Good Idea?
While the general advice given about sleeping on the couch would be to try and avoid it where possible, there are some circumstances where sleeping on the sofa might have its benefits.
1. Sleep Disorders
Suffering from sleep disorders can be stressful and intrusive to your life. Therefore, finding any means possible which might mean you get a better night’s sleep is essential, and in some cases sleeping on the couch might prove to work.
For example, if you have insomnia, a change of scenery might be just what you need after spending hours lying in bed staring at the ceiling, and moving to a different room to lie on the couch might help you drift off much more manageable.
Anyone who has sleep apnea may also benefit from sleeping on the couch. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs while a person is asleep, it can cause snoring, and in severe cases, the sufferer might stop breathing for short periods. It can even become life-threatening. Sleeping with your head elevated is sometimes recommended for sleep apnea, and sleeping on the couch might be the best way to do this rather than rearranging your pillows in bed.
2. Stiff Neck
Although sleeping on the couch isn’t recommended for neck support in general cases, if you’ve already strained your neck because of an injury or because of your job, you might find sleeping on the couch for a couple of nights with the armrest supporting your neck may help.
How to Sleep on the Couch Correctly?
In some cases, sleeping on the couch might be unavoidable. You could be staying at a friend’s house, and that’s all they have to offer. You might be having difficulty climbing the stairs, or it could be that your partner has put you in the dog house for the night, and you’ve been shunned to the sofa for the night.
If you have no option but to sleep on the couch, here are some handy tips that can help ensure you don’t wake up with a stiff neck and still get a restful night’s sleep.
1. Sleeping Position
Try to remain on your side when sleeping on the couch. Sleeping on your back may cause a dip in your back. You can try placing a cushion underneath your hips where the couch dips in the middle for added support.
2. Build a Forte
Try to give your body as much support as possible. For example, try rolling up a blanket and placing it down the length of your back to prevent you from sliding into the soft back of the couch.
3. Turn off the TV
When sleeping on the couch, it can be tempting to leave the television on until you fall asleep. However, this can play with your body’s internal clock and may cause you to skip sleep cycles or wake up multiple times throughout the night.
4. Add a Bottom Sheet
Placing a sheet on your couch’s cushions can help it feel more like you’re climbing into bed. It is also much more hygienic. This is the same for your pillows. Use the pillow from your bed instead of the cushions off the couch for hygiene purposes.
If sleeping on the couch is something you find yourself regularly doing, then it could be worth looking into purchasing a sofa bed. This way, when nighttime comes, you can still sleep downstairs or in another room for whatever reason without going through the discomfort of preparing to sleep on the couch.
So, no, sleeping on the couch isn’t something that’s recommended, especially as a long-term solution. Sleeping on the couch isn’t going to affect you if it’s once every blue moon, but it can still leave you feeling a little discomfort the morning after, such as stiff joints or a sore neck.
A long-term option for sleeping on the couch would be to invest in a sofa bed. This way, it can be packed away for purpose during the day and unfolded at night to give you all the benefits of sleeping in an actual bed.
If you’ve been kicked out of bed for whatever reason, and do find yourself with the need to hop on the couch from time to time, then some handy tips can help you to get a more comfortable sleep, such as using extra blankets and pillows to keep your spine aligned, and using bedding such as sheets and pillows to make it feel a little more like a bed.