While we might not have the technology to sleep in a real zero gravity chamber yet, changing your sleeping posture to the “zero-gravity” position with an adjustable bed could be an excellent place to start in correcting a variety of sleep issues.
First popularized by NASA as a low-pressure position for astronauts to assume during take-off, the zero-gravity sleep position allows you to fall asleep faster and stay in a deep slumber longer. Better yet, the only tools you’ll need are an adjustable bed frame, a protractor, and a flexible mattress.
Read on to learn how to sleep in zero gravity on an adjustable bed and why this position could benefit your sleep quality.
How Zero Gravity Affects the Human Body
When you sleep in the zero-gravity position, your upper body and legs sit above your heart and stomach. Meanwhile, your knees stay slightly bent and extended to keep your lower legs parallel with your abdomen.
While this position doesn’t literally make you float or eliminate gravity, it does give your body a weightless feeling that may make it easier to fall asleep, especially if you experience chronic sleep issues like sleep apnea or back pain.
The zero-gravity position affects your body in several ways:
- Alleviates pressure on the spine
- Keeps your spine in a neutral position
- Distributes your weight evenly
- Improves breathing and blood flow
We’ll discuss the benefits of this sleeping position more thoroughly below. However, for now, you should know that the zero-gravity position optimizes your body posture for sleep, which may improve your sleep quality and reduce some sleep-related issues.
Adjust Your Bed to Zero-Gravity Position
Some bed frames have a zero-gravity preset that takes all of the guesswork out of adjusting your bed to this position. If you’re in the market for an adjustable base, we recommend choosing this type to save you time and ensure that you maintain the proper angles for zero-gravity sleeping.
However, you can also set an adjustable bed frame to the zero-gravity position manually. Here’s how:
1. Consult NASA’s Zero Gravity Calculations
NASA originally developed the zero-gravity position, also known as the neutral body posture (NBP), to support astronaut health during space flight. Today, we can consult NASA’s calculations to set an adjustable bed frame to this position manually.
According to these calculations, you will need to adjust your bed to create a 128-degree angle between your torso and knees and a 133-degree angle between your upper and lower legs to achieve a neutral body posture.
2. Set the Upper Body Incline
Now that you know NASA’s zero-gravity position calculations, you can adjust your bed to reflect the appropriate angles. Your first step will be to set the upper body incline of your mattress.
While your upper body can be vertical or horizontal to achieve this neutral body posture, we recommend adjusting the upper body incline on your mattress to around 30 degrees. This adjustment will elevate your upper body slightly while keeping you in a relaxed posture.
3. Raise the Legs Incline
Next, you will need to raise the leg incline of the bed frame slightly to create a 128-degree angle between your torso and thighs. If your bed frame does not show you the angles of your adjustments, you can always use a protractor to ensure that this bend is precisely 128 degrees.
Then, you will need to bend the lower portion of the frame to create a 133-degree angle for your knees.
4. Save the Position
If your bed frame is programmable, you may be able to save the position you’ve created as a preset, allowing you to switch to this position instantly anytime you need to.
However, if your bed frame is not programmable, we recommend writing down these measurements and placing them on your bedside table. You can even draw a rough diagram of the positioning to spark your memory the next time you need to adjust your bed.
How to Sleep in Zero-Gravity Position
Once you’ve adjusted your bed frame to reflect the neutral positioning angles from NASA, you will simply need to lie down with your back touching the middle portion of the mattress. Then, you can shift positions slightly to ensure that the two bends occur between your torso and thighs and at your knees.
If you’re naturally a side sleeper, you can also try sleeping on your zero-gravity bed while remaining on your side. However, we do not recommend this position for stomach sleepers, as it could contort your spine and create neck and back pain.
If you plan to sleep in the zero-gravity position long-term, we recommend purchasing a mattress for adjustable beds. Unfortunately, most mattresses do not have the necessary structure and support to twist into these angles. Placing the wrong kind of mattress on an adjustable frame could limit the mattress’s support and impact its durability.
Benefits of a Zero-Gravity Bed
Sleeping on a bed frame adjusted to the zero-gravity sleeping position can be beneficial for several reasons. Not only can this position help you sleep better, but it can also promote overall health and well-being. Additionally, sleeping more soundly each night can improve your mental clarity and keep you focused throughout the day.
Here are a few benefits of sleeping on a zero-gravity bed.
Less Snoring and Easier Breathing
Sleeping in the zero-gravity position can relieve pressure on your trachea and lungs and keep your airways open. Both of these effects can make it easier to breathe while you’re sleeping and may even reduce snoring if that’s a frequent problem for you.
Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn and acid reflux tend to worsen when you lie down, as a horizontal position allows your stomach acid to rise into your esophagus. As such, sleeping in the elevated zero-gravity position can reduce heartburn, enabling you to eat before bed without experiencing that uncomfortable burning sensation.
Less Insomnia and Deeper Sleep
The zero-gravity sleep position can relieve pressure throughout your body and distribute your weight evenly, all of which can contribute to a more comfortable sleeping position. As a result, you may find that lying in this position reduces insomnia and helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more peacefully.
Elevating your legs above your heart can improve blood circulation throughout your body. If you experience swollen feet or ankles frequently, sleeping in this position each night can reduce the pain and discomfort that swelling can bring. Proper circulation can also help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Get More Info: Sleeping With Legs Elevated
Sleeping with your upper body slightly elevated can aid digestion, as food naturally travels downward throughout your digestive system. The zero-gravity sleeping position can allow gravity to assist this process as it does when you are sitting up or standing.
Read More: Benefits of Sleeping Elevated
Frequently Asked Questions
Is zero-gravity position good for back pain?
Your spine isn’t naturally straight and rigid— instead, it takes on a sort of “S” shape when viewed from the side. As a result, it makes sense that sleeping flat on your back could create back pain, as this position places excessive pressure on your spine by forcing it into a straight, flat position.
However, sleeping on your back in the zero-gravity position can allow your spine to maintain this “S” shape, relieving stress from your back and promoting natural alignment. If you experience back pain, you may find some relief by switching to a zero-gravity bed.
Do you use a pillow in zero gravity?
While you can use a pillow in a zero-gravity sleeping position, doing so could alter the precise angles of this positioning, limiting its benefits for your neck and spine. If you prefer to use a pillow on a zero-gravity bed, we recommend choosing a flat one to reduce its impact on your alignment.
Can an adjustable bed cause hip pain?
Sleeping in a zero-gravity bed should keep your hip joints slightly bent throughout the night, and many people wonder whether this position could create hip pain. However, because the zero-gravity position alleviates pressure and distributes your weight evenly across your mattress, you shouldn’t experience any new hip pain with this position.
If you have chronic sleep problems, choosing the perfect mattress may not be enough to help you achieve a deep sleep night after night. Instead, you may need an even more innovative solution, such as adjusting your bed to the zero-gravity position.
If you’re still unsure whether this position is suitable for you, we recommend purchasing an affordable adjustable bed frame and sleeping in the zero-gravity position for a few weeks. You may be surprised by how well-rested and pain-free you feel in the mornings after sleeping in this unique position.
 “NASA Standards Inform Comfortable Car Seats,” NASA Spinoff, 2013.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.