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Woman walking with pillow and blanket in hand from her bed to her recliner in another room

Sleeping in a Recliner vs. a Bed

From the time I was little, I had continuous bouts of chest colds, lung infections, and pneumonia. I slept in the large bedroom my three sisters and I shared. They would constantly have complaints about my coughing.

Overcoming nighttime coughing challenges

These lung issues caused me to cough excessively at night. My sisters would prop me up in the bed and I would stop coughing but shortly after I would fall off of my pillows and the minute I was back on a flat surface the incessant coughing would continue.

I rarely woke up due to the codeine I took to soothe the cough, but I suffered from pulled muscles from my diaphragm to my shoulders and felt hungover the next day.

Numerous days were spent brainstorming ways to get me to stay on those pillows and sit upright. Finally, we had an idea to use three pillows and strap them together to make them more solid, then use safety pins to pin my undershirt to the pillows.

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It was the first successful night of keeping me upright and cough-free. It was a miracle.

Sleeping sitting up

There were times throughout my life when I had to sleep sitting up and the only means of doing that was sleeping in a recliner. Lung infections and colds still affected me more than the average person, even then.

Elevating myself while I was sleeping was the best way to still be able to breathe with my compromised lungs. After having surgery or childbirth, being in a recliner was much more comfortable.

In the absence of a recliner, I used a wedge pillow to help me stay elevated. However, I fell off the pillow every night.

Sleeping laying down

It's natural as humans to want to sleep lying down. Most people sleep on their side, curled into a fetal position.

When you have COPD and poor air exchange in the lungs this is the exact position that causes you to retain carbon dioxide. Anytime that I lay down I use a non-invasive ventilator called a BiPap.

When the doctor gave my machine to me at the beginning of my illness he told me that this would save my life. Honestly, I think that it has many nights.

Our a nighttime sleeping solution

Eventually, as my COPD progressed and my numbers declined the one number that went up. I was retaining carbon dioxide in spite of my BiPap being on the highest level it could go.

All my doctors agreed that the numbers were extremely high. There was little in the way of information on how to get those numbers down.

The only thing my doctor told me was that if I could sleep sitting up I could put this issue behind me. My husband and I decided to try an adjustable bed.

We ended up buying a split queen mattress. It basically means that we have a queen bed that is cut in half. His side of the bed runs totally independent of mine.

Using this, we can sleep however it suits us best. I find it comfortable and inviting to sleep sitting up.

It is more comfortable than sleeping in a recliner. Do you find sleeping sitting up to be more comfortable? Let us know in the comments.

This or That

Where is it easiest for you to sleep?

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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