Have you ever gone into a deep slumber while working on your computer or your desktop? As comfortable as it may have been, did you then experience a terrible back pain, stiffness in your neck and shoulders? If yes, then it is due to long hours of sitting and being motionless. While sleeping while sitting or even standing up is a common phenomenon in the animal kingdom, the human body is not accustomed to such practice.
Read more: Why sleeping on your back is good for your health
Being inactive in a seated position can take a heavy toll on your joints and may stiffen them up. It may also raise your risk of severe diseases such as deep-vein thrombosis. That said, let us take a look at the dangers of sleeping while sitting and find out if it can be fatal.
Sleeping while sitting may be comfortable, but can lead to stiff joints and back ache
We often get comfortable on our chairs, doze off on our desks while working. Our school days would have been incomplete without such instances. However, doing so frequently can be highly problematic in terms of health.
Being motionless and in a single position can cause back and body aches, which may destroy our postures too. Immobility can also lead to stiff joints and may have painful repercussions. Stretching is considered to be a great way to improve flexibility, posture and prevent joint stiffness. While laying down on a bed to sleep may help us stretch out our limbs and joints, sleeping while sitting can impair blood circulation, restrict movements, leading to further complications.
Read more: Three common sleeping positions and how they affect your health
Beware of deep vein thrombosis, a possible outcome sitting for long hours
Apart from the short term problems, sleeping while sitting can also make you more prone to deep vein thrombosis, which occurs when a blood clot, also known as thrombus, forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, especially legs. It can be a negative outcome of long hours of sleeping in one position or sleeping while sitting, with no movements at all.
If the condition is left undiagnosed or untreated, this may lead to an emergency situation, even cause death in severe circumstances. The biggest risk occurs when part of the clot breaks off and travels to the lung or brain, resulting in significant damage, causing sudden deaths.
The National Blood Clot Alliance suggests that over 200 people die every day from the consequences of a blood clot. One can develop a clot at 25 or even at the age of 85 years.
Symptoms to watch out for
The main symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are as follows.
- Swelling and soreness in calf muscles, ankle or foot
- Reddened, warm skin, resulting from an inflammation
- Sudden ankle or foot pain
Are there any benefits to sleeping sitting upright?
It is always advisable to resort to a recliner, if you want to sleep while sitting. While one must avoid such a sleeping position, it may be beneficial for pregnant women, finding it difficult to sleep laying down. It is also a great way to sleep for people suffering with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that takes place when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. It can also ease acid reflux and may help people dealing with gastrointestinal problems to sleep more efficiently.