Sleeping like you’re in outer space is a little-known secret to getting an amazing night’s sleep here on Earth, doctors say.
The “zero gravity” or “zero g” sleep position includes sleeping with your head and legs elevated above your heart, with your midsection in a downward trough.
It is meant to create a feeling of weightlessness by elevating both the upper and lower body. The position was originally designed by NASA to help astronauts balance their weight and relieve stress on the body while in space.
It mimics the body’s natural position in low-gravity conditions, so astronauts don’t have to make extra effort to get comfortable.
Weightless sleep is meant to relieve stress throughout the body. Either with an adjustable bed or extra pillows, you can achieve this by elevating your feet and head above your heart
The goal is to keep the body at rest at 120 degrees, which relieves pressure on the heart and allows blood to pump more freely through the body.
Researchers were looking for ways to make astronaut suits more comfortable and agile. NASA then took the data and applied it to living quarters, changing the way astronauts sleep.
But you don’t have to go to space to sleep better. And this research comes at a time when millions of Americans need a better night’s rest.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly a third of Americans don’t get enough rest – at least seven hours – each night.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, lack of sleep has historically been linked to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression.
The CDC also reports that 8.4% of American adults take sleep pills, more than double the amount that was taken 10 years ago.
These drugs deprive the body of REM sleep, and too little REM sleep can lead to forgetfulness.
Relaxing the body could also lead to several other benefits.
“Being in a weightless position tends to be orthopedically better and easier on your hips and shoulders than sleeping on your knuckles,” neurologist and sleep expert Dr. Chris Winter told DailyMail.com.
For example, adjusting body position could reduce the risk of acid reflux, which the National Institutes of Health estimates 60 million Americans experience at least once a month.
“When you lie flat or supine, acid drains from your stomach because the stomach and esophagus are horizontal,” Dr. Winter said. “When you tilt your head up, gravity keeps your stomach contents in your stomach.”
It might also help you breathe better. A 2017 study from the journal Sleep Breathing Physiology and Disorders found that keeping your head above your stomach helps your airways stay open.
This prevents snoring and symptoms of sleep apnea, both of which can prevent a good night’s rest.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, up to 80% of people with this disease have trouble sleeping due to painful, stiff, and swollen joints.
Alleviating the pressure on the body could alleviate some of this discomfort.
Additionally, lifting your lower body can improve circulation and reduce swelling in overweight people, as well as people with diabetes and high blood pressure.
While some companies sell adjustable beds that can be used to achieve this position, you can also do so with a few simple tricks.
You can do this by lying on your back, raising your legs. For example, Dr. Winter suggested wedging one or two pillows under the knees and shins, as well as one or two just behind the neck.
However, weightless sleep may not be a position for those who tend to toss and turn.
“Sleeping in this position limits you in a way. After a while you might want to change and be on your side or something. It’s kind of hard to do,” Dr. Winter said.
Ultimately, Dr. Winter said, the benefits depend “on what you need for good sleep and what is good sleep for you.”