Best sleeping position for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Sleep:

Are you suffering from PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease)? If yes, you might notice that your sleep quality isn’t as great as it was previously. It is possible to experience leg cramps, leg pain or numbness that keep you awake or can wake you up in the night. It is also possible to feel nauseated and tired or angry throughout the daytime. You might also be looking for best sleeping position for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

You’re not alone. PAD is a condition that is common that affects around 8.5 million Americans as estimated by American Heart Association. The vessels that supply blood to your limbs, particularly your legs, are narrowed or blocked with plaque which is a fatty material that adheres to walls of the artery. This decreases the flow of blood to your feet and legs and triggers symptoms such as pain as well as cramping, numbness, skin changes, coldness and slow healing of wounds. PAD could also increase the chances of having a stroke, amputation, and heart attack.

It is essential for all of us to get enough sleep however particularly for those suffering from PAD. Insufficient sleep quality can exacerbate symptoms and problems of PAD and negatively impacting the overall health and well-being of. Therefore, finding the best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease is crucial to improve sleep quality and decreasing discomfort.

What is the best sleeping position for Peripheral Arterial Disease? What are the most dangerous sleeping positions to avoid? In this article, we’ll address these questions and provide you with some suggestions to sleeping better with PAD.

How PAD Affects Sleep?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), PAD affects about 202 million people worldwide, and its prevalence increases with age. In 2010, PAD was estimated to affect 8.5% of adults aged 55 to 74 years, and 19% of adults aged 75 years and older.

PAD may affect your sleep in a variety of ways, including:

  • Inducing pain and discomfort in your feet or legs that could keep you awake or awake in the night. The pain could be worse when you sit down or raise your legs as the blood flow is reduced to your legs.
  • Increasing your risk of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can cause pauses in breathing or a shallow breathing rate in the course of sleep. Sleep apnea may disrupt your sleep cycle and trigger the daytime fatigue, sleepiness, anxiety, and mood fluctuations. Sleep apnea may also aggravate the condition by increasing tension in your blood vessels and inflammation within your arteries.
  • The disruption of your circadian rhythm which is the body’s internal clock which regulates your sleep-wake cycles and other functions of the body. The condition can alter your circadian rhythm through affecting your production of melatonin the hormone that assists in helping regulate sleep. Melatonin levels could be less in those suffering from PAD, making it more difficult to sleep or remain asleep.
  • Reducing the quantity aswell as quality of your sleep which can have negative consequences on your physical and mental health. A lack of sleep can affect the cognitive function, memory, immunity, mood, metabolic balance and hormone balance. Deprivation of sleep can also cause an increase in the levels of stress hormones, inflammation and oxidative stress inside your body. This can make PAD worse and increase your chances of having cardiovascular-related events.

Best and Worst Sleeping Positions for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD):

Selecting the most suitable sleeping position for peripheral arterial disease is based on a variety of aspects, such as:

1. The degree and place of PAD.

2. The nature and extent of medical conditions.

3. Your personal preferences and comfort level.

Best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease:Best sleeping positions for peripheral artery disease

Generally, the best Sleeping Positions for Peripheral Artery Disease are:

1. Elevated legs sleep position:

One of the best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease is the elevated legs sleep positions. An elevated leg sleep position involves raising the legs slightly above the level of the heart while lying down, typically by using pillows or an adjustable bed.

Purpose and benefits:

  • Elevating the legs can improve blood circulation by assisting the return of blood from the legs to the heart, reducing the risk of swelling and fluid accumulation.
  • Elevating the legs can also help reduce pressure on the lower back, making it beneficial for those with lower back pain.

Tips to do it:

  1. Use pillows or cushions to elevate your legs. The legs should be elevated about 6 to 12 inches above the level of your heart for better results.
  2. Lie on your back and place the pillows or cushions under your legs. Ensure that your knees are slightly bent for comfort.
  3. You can also lie on your side and place a pillow between your knees, then elevate the top leg by placing pillows underneath it.
  4. Opt for firm and supportive pillows to maintain a stable elevation throughout the night.
  5. Pay attention to how your body responds. If you experience discomfort or numbness, adjust the elevation or return to a more neutral sleep position.

2. Side Sleep position:

The best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease is side sleep position. The side sleep position refers to sleeping on your side, with your body positioned horizontally and your spine aligned parallel to the surface of the bed.Side sleep position

Purpose and benefits:

  • Side sleep can potentially promote better blood circulation by allowing free flow of blood through the arteries and veins.
  • Side sleeping may be more comfortable for individuals with PAD, as it can minimize pressure on the affected leg and reduce the risk of restricted blood flow during sleep.

Tips to do it:

  1. Use a supportive pillow that keeps your head and neck in alignment with your spine. A thicker pillow may be needed to fill the gap between your head and the mattress.
  2. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned and prevent pressure on your lower back.
  3. You can place a small pillow under your waist for additional support, especially if you have a natural curve in your lower back.
  4. Adjust the height of your pillow to find the most comfortable and supportive position for your head and neck.

3. Back sleep:

Another best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease is Back sleep. Sleeping on your back means lying flat on your back with your face and body pointed upwards.

Purpose and benefits:

  • Sleeping on your back could aid in reducing the tension on your legs and increase blood flow towards your lower limbs.
  • Back sleep can assist in keeping your neck, head and back in a healthy and balanced posture.

Tips to do it:

  1. Use a supportive pillow that helps maintain the natural curve of your neck and spine. Do not use a pillow that is too big or even too flat.
  2. Place a small pillow or cushion under your knees as it can help reduce pressure on your lower back.
  3. Keep your arms relaxed and comfortably by your sides, rather than stretched out or tucked under your body.
  4. Try to maintain the back sleep position throughout the night.

Tips and Guidelines for the suitable best sleeping position:

The general guidelines for best sleeping position for Peripheral Artery Disease are:

  • Try side sleeping with your legs straight or bent slightly. This can increase circulation to your feet and legs as well as reduce discomfort and pain. It also helps to keep the airway open which helps to prevent or lessen the risk of sleep apnea.
  • Utilize cushions or pillows to support your legs as well as feet. It is possible to place cushions or pillows under your ankles, knees or feet to raise them a little and increase blood circulation. It is also possible to place cushions or pillows on your legs in order to stop them from colliding with one another and result in skin irritation.
  • Explore various angles and levels of elevation. You might find an elevation of your legs a little (about 6-inches) will help to ease discomfort and pain without hindering blood flow. However, elevating your legs too excessively (more than 12 inches) could have the reverse impact and increase discomfort and pain, by decreasing blood flow. It is possible to alter the angle and elevation of your elevation in accordance with your physical symptoms as well as your comfort level.
  • Alternate positions often during the night. Being in a single position for too long could result in stiffness, soreness and pressure ulcers to your feet or legs. Change your posture every couple of hours or when you are discomfort. You should also move your ankles, toes and knees regularly to increase blood flow and reduce cramps.

Worst Sleeping Position for Peripheral Artery Disease:

The most dangerous sleeping posture for peripheral arterial disease is typically sleeping in a reclining position, with your legs flat or elevated. This can decrease the blood flow to your feet and legs and cause discomfort and pain. It may also aggravate sleep apnea because it causes the tongue and soft palate of your mouth to obstruct the airway.

Other sleeping positions that are harmful to peripheral artery disease are:

  • Sleeping on your stomach with your legs straight or bent: This can cause compression of your abdomen and limit the flow of blood to your feet and legs. It could also result in back and neck pain due to turning your spine.
  • Sleeping in a fetal position with your legs curled up to your chest: This posture can reduce the blood supply to your legs and feets as well as increase discomfort and pain. It may also lead to knee and hip pain placing pressure on joints.
  • Sleeping with your legs crossed or tucked under you: This can decrease the flow of blood to your feet and legs and cause discomfort and pain. It may also result in neuro damage, or nerve numbness through compression of nerves in your legs.


1. Can sleeping positions affect my PAD symptoms?

Yes, certain sleeping positions can either alleviate or worsen PAD symptoms by improving or restricting blood flow to your limbs during sleep.

2. What is the best sleeping position for PAD?

The best sleeping position for PAD is on your back with your legs elevated slightly above heart level to promote better blood circulation and minimize swelling. Sleeping on the side and on the back is also beneficial for PAD.

3. Are there any specific pillows or devices that can help with leg elevation while sleeping?
Yes, using pillows or foam wedges under your legs can help elevate them comfortably while you sleep and improve blood flow in the affected areas.

4. Is it okay to sleep on my stomach if I have PAD?

Sleeping on your stomach is not healthy for individuals with PAD as it can restrict blood flow and put pressure on already compromised arteries, worsening symptoms.

5. Can side sleeping be beneficial for people with PAD?

While side sleeping may not directly improve blood flow like back sleeping, it can still be helpful by reducing pressure on specific areas and providing relief from discomfort caused by poor circulation.

6. How often should I change my sleep position if I have PAD?

Changing your sleep position every few hours is recommended as it helps prevent prolonged pressure on one area, improves overall circulation, and reduces the risk of developing ulcers or skin breakdowns.


Peripheral arterial condition (PAD) can be described as a disease which impacts the blood flow in the body, particularly the legs. It is caused by obstruction or narrowing of the arterial arteries because of the buildup of plaque that is a fat substance that adheres to wall of the artery. PAD may cause symptoms like leg cramps, leg pain as well as numbness and coldness. change in the skin, as well as inadequate wound healing. PAD may increase your chance of suffering from heart attacks as well as stroke and amputation.

A healthy and restful sleep is crucial all of us, however it is particularly important for those suffering from PAD. Insufficient sleep quality can exacerbate symptoms and problems of PAD and negatively impacting your overall health and wellbeing. So, determining the best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease is vital to improving sleep quality and decreasing discomfort.

The ideal sleeping posture for peripheral arterial disease is determined by a variety of variables, such as the extent and location of the PAD, the type and severity of medical conditions as well as your personal preferences and comfort degree while in general the best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease is sleeping on the back with elevated legs slightly above the heart. 


  • American Heart Association. (2017, March 8). Peripheral artery disease (PAD).
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 6). Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) basic information.
  • Fowkes, F. G., Rudan, D., Rudan, I., Aboyans, V., Denenberg, J. O., McDermott, M. M., Norman, P. E., Sampson, U. K., Williams, L. J., Mensah, G. A., & Criqui, M. H. (2013). Comparison of global estimates of prevalence and risk factors for peripheral artery disease in 2000 and 2010: A systematic review and analysis. The Lancet, 382(9901), 1329-1340.
  • Heidenreich, P. A., Trogdon, J. G., Khavjou, O. A., Butler, J., Dracup, K., Ezekowitz, M. D., Finkelstein, E. A., Hong, Y., Johnston, S. C., Khera, A., Lloyd-Jones, D. M., Nelson, S. A., Nichol, G., Orenstein, D., Wilson, P. W., & Woo, Y. J.; American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee; Stroke Council; Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention; Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Epidemiology and Prevention; Council on Arteriosclerosis; Thrombosis and Vascular Biology; Council on Cardiopulmonary; Critical Care; Perioperative and Resuscitation; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease; Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia; Interdisciplinary Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research (2011). Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: A policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123(8), 933-944.
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