6 Benefits of Sleeping with Your Legs Elevated

Last Updated on May 10, 2022

by Marc Werner, Founder - GhostBed

At one point or another, we’ve all heard the advice to “relax and put your feet up.” But did you know there’s actually some medical wisdom behind it? Whether you’re getting home from a long day, you’re settling in for the night or you’re trying to alleviate aches and pains, elevating your legs and feet might be just what you need for deep, healthy sleep. Keep reading and we’ll explore all of the benefits of this position and how to get comfortable.

Overview: Benefits of Sleeping With Your Legs Elevated

Sleeping with your legs and feet elevated has many health benefits, from helping to improve blood flow to keeping swelling and inflammation down. While you can elevate your legs by propping them on pillows, investing in an adjustable base is a go-to solution that has many other health benefits as well.

Couple relaxing in bed with head and legs elevated Explore our Adjustable Base

1. Helps Improve Blood Circulation

Throughout the day, blood circulates through your veins, traveling away from and then back toward your heart. When you’re laying down, however, your heart has to work even harder to move things along. The simple solution? Raise your legs slightly, and let gravity provide a boost! Raised leg poses have long been practiced in yoga as a way to get your blood flowing, and sleeping in this position can help you wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized.

2. Helps Minimize Pain and Sciatica Symptoms

As the body’s longest nerve, the sciatic nerve can wreak havoc and pain when inflamed. This nerve follows the spinal cord down the back into the buttocks and then down both legs. When the sciatic nerve is irritated by compression or inflammation, it can cause lower back pain, leg pain and even numbness in the legs and feet. To alleviate pain, the key is to reduce the pressure that the lumbar discs put on the root of the nerve—and lying on your back with your feet elevated can do just that.

3. Helps Reduce Swelling

Edema, which is caused by an excess of fluid in your body’s tissues, is very common in the legs and feet. Symptoms include swelling and puffiness, and sometimes stretched or shiny skin. There can be many causes of edema, including:

  • Fluid build up in the lower extremities from standing or sitting for an extended period, especially in hotter climates
  • Lung diseases that place pressure on the blood vessels between the heart and lungs, creating a burden on the heart as veins struggle to pump blood back to it
  • Congestive heart failure, which can be a serious issue when your heart can’t pump blood effectively
  • Kidney and liver disease, as well as poor nutrition, which can cause low levels of protein in the blood
  • Preeclampsia during pregnancy, which is a serious condition that can cause fluid buildup
  • Strained muscles, bones or ligaments, like when you sprain your ankle (you’ve probably heard of RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation!)

In the same way that elevating your legs and feet help improve your blood circulation, it can reduce swelling by “draining” fluid away from them.

4. Lowers the Risk of Blood Clots and DVT

When you’re sedentary for a long time, especially after a major surgery, your risk of blood clots increases. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can also occur, which is when a blood clot forms deep inside your veins, usually in your body’s lower extremities. This can lead to a life-threatening situation, so be sure to contact a medical professional for help.

Once under the care of a doctor, you can help ease DVT by keeping your legs elevated to relieve pain, improve circulation and reduce swelling. In addition to pain relief, sleeping with your knees up can also help to reduce swelling and keep the blood flowing.

5. Helps Reduce Varicose Veins

While varicose veins aren’t known to be a serious medical condition, they can definitely be uncomfortable. These enlarged veins are caused by an increase in blood pressure, signifying damaged or weakened valves (the parts of the veins responsible for pumping blood to and from your heart). Elevating your legs at the end of the day, combined with compression socks and lifestyle changes like losing weight, can help.

6. Alleviates Back Pain

If you were taught to stand up straight as a kid, you might assume that your spine is completely straight. The truth is, your spine has a natural curve to it! Because of this, sleeping completely flat can add unnecessary pressure on your lower back. By elevating your legs slightly—or even better, getting into a zero gravity position with your head and legs raised—your body will be in a more comfortable, natural position. The result? Deeper, higher-quality sleep without any back pain.

How Long Should You Elevate Your Legs?

The answer to this will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. Most health experts recommend starting with 15 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times per day. If your goal is to reduce swelling, you may want to start with this amount of time and work your way up if you’re not seeing results. For any other health conditions, we recommend checking with a medical professional to get their advice.

How Much Should You Elevate Your Legs?

How much elevation is enough? Is there such a thing as too much elevation? The general guidance is elevating your legs to about 6 to 12 inches above your heart, with a natural bend to your legs.

How to Sleep with Your Legs Elevated

Now that you know some of the many benefits of sleeping with your legs elevated, let’s look at a few different ways you can get comfortable in this position.

Use a Stack of Pillows

The easiest way to elevate your legs is to simply position a few pillows underneath them. You’ll need a few in order to get the right height—remember, you’ll want your legs to be above your heart. Medium to firm pillows, like a memory foam pillow, will work best as they collapse as much under the pressure of your legs. Keep in mind if you toss and turn a bit, you may need to reset your stack as the pillows shift around.

Use a Small Pillow or a Folded Blanket

If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll need to get a little creative to elevate your legs and feet. But it isn’t impossible! Simply place a wedge shaped pillow or a small folded blanket between your legs to get comfortable. This position helps keep your spine aligned and helps your blood circulate easier.

Use an Adjustable Base Bed

Another easy way to elevate your legs is with an adjustable bed. Widely known in the world of medical care, adjustable bases now come equipped with tons of extra features too, such as massage and under-bed LED lights. With the touch of a button, you can elevate your head as well as your legs to find a comfortable position for relaxing or sleeping.

How Long Should You Elevate Your Legs?

Throughout the day, blood circulates through your veins, traveling away from and then back toward your heart. When you’re laying down, however, your heart has to work even harder to move things along. The simple solution? Raise your legs slightly, and let gravity provide a boost! Raised leg poses have long been practiced in yoga as a way to get your blood flowing, and sleeping in this position can help you wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Marc's Tip

As a former athlete, I know what it feels like to wake up in pain. Once I realized how much better I slept with my legs slightly elevated, I made it my goal to share that feeling with the world. With up to a 70% incline for the leg section, the GhostBed Adjustable Base will help you find a comfortable position for great sleep.


Marc Werner - Founder, GhostBed

Marc Werner

Founder - GhostBed

Twitter LinkedIn

After undergoing three neck surgeries, Marc knew what it was like to live and sleep in constant pain. In 2001, after searching fruitlessly for a comfortable pillow and mattress that supported his neck and back ... Learn More

GhostBed® Canada

Quality • Comfort • Cooling

From $1,270.00 $889.00

Shop Mattresses
Specifications Expand/Collapse Buying a Mattress
Specifications Expand/Collapse Care for Your GhostBed
Specifications Expand/Collapse Mattress Comparisons
Specifications Expand/Collapse Adjustable Base
Specifications Expand/Collapse Benefits of an Ideal Pillow
Specifications Expand/Collapse Personal Sleep Tips
Specifications Expand/Collapse Mattress Size Comparisons
Specifications Expand/Collapse Silk Pillowcase
Specifications Expand/Collapse Bed Sheets
Specifications Expand/Collapse Mattress Toppers
Specifications Expand/Collapse Weighted Blankets
Specifications Expand/Collapse RV Mattress
Affirm Financing

Flex Payment

36-Month Flex Pay Option

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Shop Pay
  • PayPal

One-Time Payment

Pay Once. Rest Easy.

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses