Sleeping on an Inclined Bed Leads to an Enormous Wedgie
The room is dark. My feet are tingling with pins and needles as they dangle off the foot of the bed. For a moment, I convince myself that I can stay like this for a few more hours.
I pull my knees toward my chest to bring my feet back onto the mattress. But the situation worsens. The discomfort of a wedgie fully awakens me. Underpants pulled upward is an intolerable feeling at any time of the day.
I begin the first uphill climb of the night. I tightly grip the cotton bed sheet and pull my upper body toward the pillow. The sheet has no tension and crumbles into a cluster of wrinkles in my hand. Great.
Sliding down the inclined bed, my body weight has pulled the sheet off, too.
Why is the bed inclined?
To clarify, sleeping on an incline is a necessary evil. Without muscles in my stomach and esophagus, I risk aspirating digestive fluids every night. To protect my lungs, the head of my bed must be raised 6-8 inches.
I’ve tried the adjustable bed idea, in which the bed bends in the middle, raising just the top half to form a V-like shape. But thanks to my circulation issues, bending at the hips for eight hours of sleeping is impossible. After an hour, I lose circulation in my legs. Plus, it creates other digestive issues below my stomach. Gravity is my digestion friend!
To give me a safe night of sleep, my father built me a bed platform that raises the head of the bed. Although the mattress is inclined, I can lie straight and still let gravity do its job.
However, like everything related to scleroderma, there’s no perfect solution. Each night, my husband and I slowly slide down our tiny, snowless ski slope. Our track downhill creates an avalanche of obstacles we must battle.
Other problems to consider
Our rescue pup has even rolled off the foot of the bed a few times. The poor thing sleeps hard, and in his comfortable sleep, he’ll roll right down the hill and off the edge! Then he’ll shoot me a confused look, as if asking me why I did that to him.
Clothing choices are another issue worth mentioning. I’ve given up on wearing nightgowns. The last time I braved one, I woke up thinking I was being attacked. My neck and shoulders were bound in a sea of fabric. It takes a lot of effort to untangle oneself in the middle of the night while exhausted and barely coherent!
But the worst part of the inclined bed is the climb back up. The muscles continue sleeping, even though the mind is semi-aware of the situation. The unattached sheets act like wet, slippery leaves on a steep hill. It’s a struggle to get traction to thrust the body upward. When I do find my footing, I need to exert a good amount of effort to overcome the constant pull of gravity.
Once my head is finally nestled in the fluff of my pillow, I realize I’m wide awake at 1 a.m. I look to my left and see the top of my husband’s head resting a foot below mine. Knowing he’s over 6 feet tall, I think about how his knees must be hanging off the bed, and the incredible wedgie he will soon awaken to.
Figuring out ways to live with scleroderma
Scleroderma is a cruel disease to live with. Patients must become creative problem solvers, always looking for ways to live with ailments that cannot be cured.
A scleroderma warrior never gives up! It’s time to invest in some deep-pocket sheets, and maybe install a pull rope down the center of the bed. But I still can’t figure out a solution for the inclined bed wedgie!
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.
I too spend the night sliding gently down the bed in an effort to combat inhaling reflux. Nice to know I’m not alone.
You are definitely not alone, Allison! I hope you've come up with ways to cope with the slope!
I have recently been diagnosed with scleroderma and part of my new adjustments is, as you said, “I risk aspirating digestive fluids every night. To protect my lungs, the head of my bed must be raised 6-8 inches.” I just ordered a wedge and I anticipate an adjustment! No clothes - no wedgie. I sleep in the buff so comfortably. I literally can’t sleep with clothes on! It’s a sure-fire solution, but not everyone has the privacy to do it. Loved your story. I’m ready. I am so impressed with the good-will of the Scleroderma Community (patients and doctors - haven’t crossed paths with care givers yet
Sue, I'm sorry about your diagnosis. But I love the positive vibe you give off! Tackle this beast head on and stay strong! We may be a community of people with lots of hurdles, but we are fighters and we support one another. Wishing you all the best!
I have been sleeping on a custom-made inclined bed for the past 5 years. The head of my bed is raised 25 cm (10 inches). I have found that if I use a memory foam topper on top of the mattress then I don't slide down. I use a 2 inch thick memory foam mattress topper.
Daniel, that's a good idea. Our mattress is a memory foam mattress, but a topper might give it a little more cushion to hold our position. I'll definitely give it a try. Thank you for taking the time to share what works for you. I'm sure it will help so many people! Best wishes to you!
No problem Lisa, I hope it works for you :) Great article by the way. I just realized that the net height that my mattress is raised at the head is 20 cm (8 inches) as the bottom part is raised by 5cm. When I have raised it higher with a block of wood then definitely I will notice the bedding start to slip in the night. I should also mention that it's important for the topper to have corner straps so that it holds in place. All the best!
Thank you, Daniel! I didn't even think of that. I'm sure the corner straps are a must! I'll be sure my set up includes them.
What a delightful article. Gallows humor, perhaps, but in an “I’ve been there” sort of way! A great reminder that if we live wisely, we can usually find humor in anything, and I believe feel better bc of it.
Thank you, Becky! I'm glad my humor came through in this column. I completely agree- we need to keep finding the humor!
I sleep in a recliner. For me, recliner=problems solved. My husband sleeps in his recliner too; we're as together as possible.
Finding what works for you is so important. Thank you for taking the time to share, Melody. I know the recliner has helped so many people get a good night of rest (or as close as possible)!
I am so sorry that you are having so much trouble. When I slept with my husband (which I don't anymore), I used wedges and pillows and always needed an extra pillow underneath my legs to "hold on". After years, I was worst and decided to sleep on a recliner for many years. Just recently, I have two sleeping options. If I feel that food can come back my throat, I sleep on my recliner. If I think I can totally relax, then the electric bed is the option. I always use 3 to 4 pillows with different sizes and support plus a wedge pillow to hold my head, these are to adjust the inclination and support of my back because it can be very tiring to don't have the right support. I also have small homemade pillows and alternate to go underneath the knees and on the curb in the back!. Most of the time, I sleep well. I can tell I am always aware at some level of my posture and where my esophagus is! You are certainly not alone, I realized I need different solutions and it has worked best. I truly hope you find the right solutions for you that help you enjoy your very deserved rest!
Eloisa, it sounds like you have been struggling for quite some time. It also sounds like you never give up! Way to go- stay strong! I'm definitely going to try adding in some pillows. Thank you for the idea! Best wishes to you!
Eloisa, I also do many of the things you mention. What helps
most is to have a pillow under my knees to keep from slipping down,
pillows to support my back and smaller pillows for my neck. I also have plenty of water and tums just in case. I've had scleroderma
for 17 years.
Lou, Tums are a life saver at times! I like the tropical flavors, but hate when all that's left are the yellow ones! 😆
It is important that at least the torso is elevated. Just adding extra pillows elevates just the neck which can make things worse. There is a product called the RefluxBand. I haven't tried it as I have a contradiction but it might help. Also sleeping on your left hand side has been shown to reduce reflux by 50 to 80%. There is a startup company called Side Sleep Technologies that are working on a product that called the Left device. Not sure when this will be on the market. Note that I have no connection to these companies but have just read about them.
Daniel, I've read about sleeping on the left side to reduce reflux. I try to stay on the left as much as possible. Thank you for sharing this information with everyone- it's very helpful. I will keep an eye out for this new sleeping aid. It makes me happy knowing that companies are trying to find solutions!
that was inspiring Lisa.... and cute.... i had my son help me make a wood box for my foam mattress and my son n law attached it to my bed frame at a recline.... i do slide down during the nite but not too much... i do have to crawl out at least once a nite to get back up to the top and start over lol... i dont have the strength to pull myself up i guess from the polymyositis... but hey it is what it is and yes u need the smiles along the way... thanks.. it helps : )
Thank you, Cindi. I love that your son and son-in-law both helped make your bed. Having supportive family makes all the difference in the world! Keep finding those smiles and always find a way to climb back up!
Thank you Lisa, it's good knowing I'm not alone. I laughed and cried reading this. It's so funny, wedgies, yet sad we live like this. I resorted to no underwear; no more wedgies.😃
I have an electric bed, but I think it's made for people with really long torsos. I don't bend where the bed bends. I've tried elevating my legs, but like you, it's more annoying. Sleeping on my left side is great, but I toss and turn multiple times and end up on my back half way down the bed.
Thank you for writing this. 🙂
Trina, I can relate to how you feel. When I was writing this I wanted it to have a little bit of humor, but yet it is still a sad reality. But it’s important to always try to laugh no matter how bad things get.
It has been trying at times figuring out how to sleep, and that is definitely the hardest part of my day. I do have prescription antacids and take a muscle relaxer just at night to help me sleep. Once I started sleeping better, and I had the right medications for my heart (and subsequent diabetes), I started an exercise program that has helped me all but eliminate the need for the muscle relaxer and medication for diabetes. I know they say you should exercise even when you feel like that’s the last thing you want to do... but it has also helped me sleep better than anything I have ever tried before.
I'm so happy to hear that you found some relief from exercise. I also feel so much better when I exercise. Keep doing what works for you! Best wishes to you, Heather.
I sympathies with your situation, not elevated yet but had a few nights I should have been. Experienced the issue in Hospital beds a few times. I must use CPAP also. My hands are the problem now they always go numb at night unless at my side. I enjoyed the story even though I am sure it gets miserable at times. We should all talk about our genetic issue's and see if any problems are the same. I have issue with B-12 and Folate since I was in Service and exposed to TCE and Benzene, have MTHFR Gene and MTRR EM-35 Haplogroup, Italian Jew/Irish by genetics, Taliaferro is genetic name. Like to pin point any commonality we all might have genetically since I have not heard of a study doing it, or even that they know which gene is catalyst for Scleroderma.
Timothy, I hope you don't progress. Stay strong and keep moving. I spent many years trying to find communities. There has to be something. I hope they find the cause so we can stop this disease.
Hi, you might try moving a heavy vertical dresser to the foot of the inclined bed. You can press your feet on the back while laying down to keep from sliding down too much. You can even screw a sheet of thin plywood to the back of the dresser if the particle board wears out from your feet. Just have to make sure the dresser is heavy enough not to tip over.
Another option is screwing on a footboard to the bottom of the inclined bed and pressing your feet against that that while you sleep.
Great ideas Neal! Thank you for sharing.
Linda H Crerie
I have the same issue as well. I laughed so hard reading this post...
Maybe a speed bump type of thing for the bottom to stop :)
Thank you for sharing, Lisa <3
Hi Linda , I’m glad I could bring a chuckle to our ridiculous situation. Keep finding the humor and stay strong.
Lisa - My husband passed away from complications from scleroderma in 2014. We slept with the head of our bed elevated as well... but we waited too long, lots of damage was already done.
One thing to consider, if you can stand it, is using flannel sheets. They are not very "slippery", and might slow down the slipping enough to save you one or two treks per night.
I am in the process of starting a company, largely due to our experiences during my husband's 17-year illness, to create solutions for challenges just like this one. I just remember always thinking "shouldn't they have something that would..." fill in the blank. I would love to talk to you about what we are doing and if there is anything that we might be able to do to help.
Keep your sense of humor - I know it is hard but it is crucial!
Oh Theresa I am so sorry about your husband! I hate this disease and what it does to all of us. But I think you are amazing! You’re finding the light that will always shine through the darkness. Doing things to help others is admirable to say the least. I would love to chat with you and help in anyway that I can. Please send me an email, look me up on Facebook or even Linkedin.