It’s a common occurrence to take a nap or even sleep all night on the couch. Whether watching a movie, taking a cat nap, or staying all night and crashing on a friend’s sofa, people do it all the time. While some claim that they find it more comfortable, others complain of back and neck pain after a not-so-restful sleep. So, is it bad to sleep on a sofa? If you guessed yes, you’re correct. Sleeping on the couch negatively affects sleep quality in a number of ways.
Sleep Quality and How it Affects Us
The old adage “quality over quantity” is especially true when it comes to sleep. Even if you’ve gotten your full eight hours, you won’t feel like you did if it wasn’t a comfortable and deep sleep. In order to restore after a long day, our bodies need to go into the REM cycle. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. This is the deepest cycle of the sleeping process. The cycle is broken down into four stages of non-REM sleep, followed by the deep cycle that most of our dreams happen in. During a good night of sleep, the sleep cycle will repeat itself several times, with each stage lasting about fifteen minutes, on average.
Without receiving an adequate night of sleep, the REM cycle is not reached enough times, or not at all. When REM sleep is disrupted or not attained, it will cause the body to slip directly into the deep sleep instead of properly going through all the stages. This causes grogginess and makes it hard to wake up, even after a full eight hours of sleep.
How Sofa Sleeping Compromises Quality Rest
The most obvious reason that the couch is not the place for sleeping is its design. Couches are made for sitting. The dense polyurethane foam that’s used to make couch cushions is made to resist lasting impressions made by having the full weight of a person’s body in one spot. Mattresses are designed for an even distribution of body weight. Sleeping on the couch causes uneven pressure on the body. In turn, this will leave you with aches and pains as your spine goes out of alignment. While taking a cat-nap once in a blue moon may not have long-term negative effects, chiropractors warn against making it a regular thing.
Combatting the Effects of Sleeping on the Couch
Whether you accidentally fell asleep on the couch, or you didn’t have another option, you’ll want to try some exercises and stretches to ward off the negative effects of sleeping on the sofa. These are good ways to alleviate soreness and realign your back:
- Neck stretches – These are pretty basic. Sitting in a cross-legged position with your back straight, drop your head down, so your chin touches your chest. Slowly roll your head to the right, back to the middle, and to the left, keeping your chin tucked under.
- Upper back stretches – There are many effective back stretches that you can find with a quick google search. A simple stretch is to sit with your legs together in front of you. Keeping one leg extended on the floor, place the other over it so that your foot is resting on your knee. Turning the opposite way from the extended leg, look back as far as you comfortably can with your elbow resting on the bent leg.
- Lower back stretches – This is a standing stretch that also loosens hamstrings. In a standing position, bend forward at the waist, trying to touch the floor while keeping your legs straight. For a deeper stretch, cross one leg in front of the other before doing the stretch.
The next time you have to sleep on the sofa, these stretches can help to deter the negative effects. However, long-term couch sleeping will eventually need professional attention and will have lasting bad effects in your daily life. Getting good quality sleep on a comfortable mattress will ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed, keep your body aligned properly, and even improve things like memory function. If you have the choice, always pick the bed over the sofa.