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Is Sleeping on the Couch Bad?

Is Sleeping on the Couch Bad?

Sandland Editorial Team
· 5 min read
sleeping on the couch

Sleeping on the couch comes with a lot of connotations, and few are associated with a good night's sleep. From potential implications for your relationship to morning neck pain, we generally try to avoid sleeping anywhere but in bed. Still, there are some who still sleep on the couch. In fact, there are a few who are downright enthusiastic about it.

Is it Bad to Sleep on the Couch?

Your bedding system impacts your sleep more than you realize.  Even the slightest change in sleep surface can affect your sleep quality.  This is why investing in a good quality mattress designed to provide maximum comfort is important.  After all, getting a good night of sleep in a proper sleeping position and a comfortable bed is important for your physical, mental, and emotional health in the long run.

That said, there are many reasons why people sleep on the couch.  It's also often positioned in front of the television, so it may be tempting to drift off when you're positioned comfortably and being lulled by your favorite show.  For some people with insomnia, changing your environment from the bedroom to the sofa may help you get better sleep.

But while sleeping on the couch may be fine once in a while, doing this as a permanent arrangement isn't ideal.  Aside from the limited space, you have a higher risk of developing back, neck, and leg pain on the couch as opposed to sleeping on your bed.  After all, people primarily sleep on mattresses for proper support for your spine and give you enough space to move around while you sleep. There are also issues with distraction and comfort to consider.

Reasons Why You Might Not Want to Fall Asleep on the Couch

We've already introduced a few reasons why you might want to avoid couch sleeping. But just in case you aren't convinced, here are a few more:


Couches are designed for sitting.  This means they're not often big enough or wide enough to accommodate your entire body.  Chances are you'll be curling up in a rather unusual way, or have your feet dangling down the side of the couch.  While you can easily elevate your head on the sofa, you may not be able to properly align your spine and neck which is really just asking for pain in your back and neck.

Besides, people are prone to shifting positions at night, so you also run the risk of falling.  Being restricted and improperly positioned in your sleep is a perfect recipe for discomfort, and your neck is definitely not going to thank you come morning.


Couches are often situated in shared spaces such as the living room, a lounge, or a lobby.  This means chances of being disturbed are higher when you sleep on the couch.  Sleep quality is often affected by many environmental factors such as light, sound, and temperature.  These things are harder to control in a space where anyone can just walk in and bump into something. 

Sleeping Alone

Due to the limited space of sofas, cuddling and spooning with a child, pet, or partner is going to be a pain, if not downright impossible.  This means less time with your partner or loved ones. If you're the type who can't get a good night's sleep alone, you may want to avoid falling asleep on the couch.

Bad for Kids

Needless to say, if you're co-sleeping with an infant, you shouldn't even consider sleeping on sofas.  Whether alone or with a guardian,infants shouldn't sleep on sofas because it's risky for them.  They could be easily wedged in a tight space, block off their airways, fall down, or worse.

Lack Neck Support

Poor sleeping posture can cause stiffness, back pain, and neck pain.  If you've ever woken up with a crick in your neck or a pinched nerve, or neck or back pain, chances are you slept in a position that provided very little neck support.

Sleeping on the couch is different from a mattress because mattress technology often focuses on your body's pressure points, something your couch doesn't. Remember, a sleep surface that eases your body's pressure points provides more benefits in terms of sleep comfort and quality.

Benefits of Sleeping on a Couch

woman sleeping on a couch

You may be hard-pressed to come up with a good reason for sleeping on the couch, especially if there's a perfectly good mattress available. Still, there are some benefits to consider, which we've outlined below.

Easier to Elevate Your Head

Lying down with your head elevated is the recommended way to sleep for most people, and with a couch, with armrests, that's easier to do even without a pillow.  This is potentially helpful for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and orthostatic hypotension.  

This may also be helpful if you have a cough or a cold because lying down can cause mucus to travel down the back of your throat, causing postnasal drip, a condition that can be alleviated by elevating your head.

Of course, you can also easily elevate your head on a bed using a pillow or bed risers.

Potentially Improved Sleep Environment

If you have insomnia and can't fall asleep in your bedroom, a change in environment can help. Ideally, you should fall asleep in a cool, dark, and quiet sleep environment to help keep your circadian rhythm or body clock in line. If sleeping on the couch helps keep you cool and doesn't disrupt with too much noise or light, you may achieve better sleep there than in bed.  That said, long-term couch sleeping comes with its risks that you need to consider.

Tips for Better Sleep on the Couch

Though couch sleeping isn't exactly ideal, it is sometimes unavoidable.  Group gatherings often mean insufficient bed space, so it's not always possible to find a mattress to sleep in.  Also, fights are common in relationships, so you may find yourself booted out of the bedroom every once in a while.

It may not provide the best sleep of your life, but it won't be the worst either.  Here are four ways to help you sleep better on the couch.

  • 1. Prepare your surface

    The first trick to a great night on the couch is preparing your surface. Sofas are often made with soft, cushiony materials that are great for a movie night snuggle, but not so much when you want to sleep.   Unlike a mattress, there also aren't any springs under the foam to help disperse your weight properly.  To prevent back pain, create a firmer surface by using a thick blanket or towel under your hips to help support your back. Your body will thank you later.

  • 2. Wide space is better space

    Couches are often narrow, so you may find yourself continually slipping off when you roll over.  To avoid this, consider taking off the back cushions to open up the space.  This way, you can enjoy a wider area for sleeping.

  • 3. Sheet makes a difference

    Just because you're on a couch doesn't mean you can't have proper beddings. Not only will it feel great on your skin, but it may also help prime you for sleep, just as if you were in bed.

  • 4. Be a blanket hog

    Don't let your housemates hog all the good blankets. Secure for yourself a comfortable, soft blanket to keep you warm during the night. Also, try to avoid throw pillows.  If you can, collect some more ergonomic pillows to help support your neck to help while sleeping.


sleep on the couch

Life is unpredictable and you never know when you'll need to spend the night on the couch. Though it may not provide the most comfortable sleep, you can rest easy knowing that it's an entirely detrimental activity. We just wouldn't recommend making it a habit.

On the flip side, if you're the type who can only fall asleep when on the couch, you may want to tweak a few things concerning your bedroom or before bed routine to improve your quality of sleep. You can also look to natural sleep aids to help secure a good night's sleep anywhere, anytime.

Sandland Sleep offers a series of sleep aids made of naturally-derived, top-graded hemp extract and enhanced with melatonin. Both fast-acting and long-lasting, each product is formulated with vegan and GMO-free components that simply signal to the brain when it's time to sleep. No morning grogginess. Just good, clean sleep.

Is sleeping on the couch bad for the couch?

Long term couch sleeping can deteriorate the cushions and cause sagging. Because it distributes weight unevenly, you may also find that some parts have more wear and tear than others.

What does sleeping on the couch mean?

Sleeping on the couch often comes paired with a negative connotation. People may assume you're undergoing some turbulence in your life, whether it's trouble with your partner, sleep disturbances, instances of insomnia, or something else. Other times, it simply means you dozed off after a long day. Different people gravitate towards sleeping on the couch for different reasons.

Is sleeping on a couch better than a bed?

Sleeping on the couch every once in a while won't hurt you much but it's a pretty bad idea when it comes to long term arrangements. Couch sleeping is often associated with back and neck pain and interrupted sleep. Remember, mattresses are specifically constructed with sleep in mind and are built to support your body in different positions for large chunks of time. 

Written by Sandland Editorial Team

Our internal editorial team has put together research on key topics including product formulation, efficacy studies, and sleep advice.

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