Best Sleeping Position for Peripheral Artery Disease

November 27, 2023 | Casper Editorial Team

Fact checked by Casper Labs Review In Progress

Sleeping on your back with your legs elevated or sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees are considered the best sleeping positions for relieving peripheral artery disease symptoms.

Peripheral artery disease — universally referred to as PAD — affects as many as 6.5 million adults in the United States according to the CDC.1 This condition can negatively impact many facets of our lives, from limiting our physical activity to heightening the risks of cardiac disease.1

At night, peripheral arterial disease can be an obstacle to our body’s most essential healing and recovery process — sweet, blissful, uninterrupted sleep.

Keeping your body and mind refreshed through quality sleep is essential for everyone, and even more crucial for those with PAD. For PAD patients, an optimal sleep position is supine (back sleeping) with the legs elevated, or side-sleeping with the legs straightened and a pillow between the knees for better alignment and blood circulation. 

In this comprehensive article, we’ll share the expert advice of the Sleep Specialists at Casper, including the best sleeping positions for peripheral artery disease and a deeper dive into the causes of the disease and sleep’s relation to PAD. To understand the science behind it all, let’s dive in with a high-level introduction to PAD.

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease mainly affects the legs and lower extremities. The pain experienced in those regions results from the narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs.1

The most common causes of PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, natural aging, and over-tiredness.1

PAD symptoms can often include the following1:

  • Pain in the legs with physical activity
  • Aches and cramps, including at night
  • Hair loss on the legs
  • Cool skin to the touch

In addition to causing nocturnal leg cramps, leg pain and discomfort throughout the day, these symptoms can be especially troublesome at night if they disrupt your sleep quality. Let’s examine how PAD can affect your nighttime rest.

The Significance of Sleep for PAD Patients

PAD symptoms aside, quality sleep is crucial for your holistic health. According to the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, adults require 7 or more hours of sleep to achieve the following benefits2:

  • Sickness prevention
  • Easier maintenance of healthy weight
  • Lowered risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease
  • Reduced stress and improved moods
  • Clearer thoughts during the day

PAD can affect your deep sleep when the pain in the lower limbs wakes you up or keeps you awake deep into the night. There are also often associations between PAD and sleep apnea, a type of breathing disturbance that occurs when your airway suddenly becomes blocked while you sleep.3 This condition is more common in overweight individuals.3 Much like with PAD, side sleeping is considered the best sleeping position for sleep apnea.

With multiple risks of interrupted sleep, it’s important to set yourself up for success with an optimal sleep position. The right position can unlock many benefits for those dealing with PAD, such as reducing pain, improving blood circulation, and reducing the risk of health complications. 

Let’s take a closer look at the best sleeping positions for peripheral artery disease.

Recommended Sleeping Positions for PAD

So, what is the best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease? The recommended sleep styles for PAD are back sleeping (supine) and side sleeping. One important key to both of the optimal sleep styles is the elevation of the legs to maintain healthy blood flow at night and prevent blood pooling.

Elevating the Legs

According to the Cardiovascular Institute of the South, elevating your legs above heart level at night can prevent blood from pooling and prevent numbness, nocturnal leg cramps, and pain.4 

Want some practical tips to elevate your night’s sleep through some leg elevation techniques? Investing in a foam wedge, a comfortable bed pillow, or an adjustable bed can give your legs the height they need without sacrificing comfort. A Casper adjustable bed frame or one of our best-selling pillows could be a perfect match for the job.

Sleeping on Your Back (Supine Position)

If you naturally sleep on your back and are affected by PAD, we have good news. The supine position is one of the best positions to sleep in with PAD for two reasons. First, your weight is evenly distributed, allowing for improved circulation. Second, this is the easiest position to allow comfortable elevation of your legs.

If you’re not a back sleeper normally or have trouble sleeping on your back, fear not. You can train yourself to sleep on your back by following our in-depth back sleeper guide. Here’s a sneak preview: start by creating a nest of pillows around your body when you settle into bed at night. This will prevent you from turning over while asleep while enhancing your comfort and support.

Side Sleeping

Another one of the best sleeping positions for peripheral artery disease is side sleeping. However, you’ll want to take advantage of the following tips to maximize your comfort and minimize complications with your condition.

Sleep with your legs as straight as possible, ideally aligned with your torso. This is to ensure that the blood flow to your lower extremities isn’t cut off. Avoid tucking your legs to your torso — also known as the “fetal position” — because it can restrict blood flow in your legs.5

For added comfort, consider sliding a comfy pillow between your knees while side sleeping. This will help ensure a more comfortable alignment and take some pressure off your hips.5 Proper pillow position is crucial for maintaining alignment and comfort throughout the night.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid

Not all sleep positions are ideal when it comes to peripheral artery disease. The two postures you’ll want to avoid to alleviate your symptoms and prevent potential issues are stomach sleeping and crossing your legs.

Sleeping on the stomach is not advised with PAD since your legs are naturally in a lower position than the heart — which could result in blood pooling.5 At the same time, sleeping on your stomach can put excess pressure on your neck and spine, causing discomfort and hindering blood flow.5

Following the same logic of optimizing blood flow, you’ll want to avoid sleeping with your legs crossed. Crossing your legs can block blood flow to the lower extremities, which can cause numbness and pain. To keep your legs comfy and relieved throughout the night, keep them separated by a pillow or straight.

Additional Tips for PAD Management and Better Sleep

Want even more helpful tips for how to manage your peripheral artery disease at night? The sleep experts at Casper are here to help.

  • Stay active – While the leg pain from PAD might incline you to walk less often, try to work walking into your routine as much as you can. Plentiful physical activity can help prevent PAD or improve symptoms of PAD, and one ideal exercise is walking, since it is accessible to most individuals and can be easily performed outdoors or indoors on a treadmill.3
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet – A heart-healthy diet and cutting caffeine before bedtime can improve your quality of sleep and provide relief from peripheral artery disease symptoms. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes can help delay or prevent PAD as well as other cardiovascular conditions.6 While you’re making adjustments to your diet, consider reducing or eliminating your caffeine consumption before bed. Studies show that caffeine consumed up to 6 hours before bedtime can disrupt your sleep.7
  • Manage your stress – If stress is a thorn in the side of your sleep, consider adding relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises and meditation to your bedtime routine. It might just help you put your mind at ease so you can clear your thoughts and more easily drift off to dreamland. 
  • Invest in a quality mattress – Could your mattress use an upgrade? If it’s lumpy and bumpy or creaky and squeaky, now might be the right time for a switch. For a supremely supportive sleep with advanced ergonomic engineering, check out the Orthopedic Mattress from Casper. If you want to stay cool throughout the night, the cooling sheets in the Hyperlite Sheet Set provides maximum breathability and comfort.
  • Consult your healthcare provider – As always, schedule regular check-ups and consultations with your primary healthcare provider to get the best-tailored advice to your circumstances. No PAD-countering strategy is one-size-fits-all — but your doctor can help you determine the best treatments and courses of action for you.

If you’re looking to improve your quality of sleep with award-winning products designed by the leading experts in sleep science, it’s time for you to meet Casper and put sleepless nights and achy mornings behind you.

Casper: Enhancing Sleep Comfort for PAD Patients

At Casper, everything we do is for the love of sleep. We believe everyone deserves exceptional sleep — no matter what conditions impact your daily life. Don’t let your peripheral artery disease keep you from getting the quality rest you deserve when sleep has such important benefits for your universal health. 

It’s easy to see how a new mattress can elevate your sleep to dreamy new heights, but why stop there? Casper also makes best-in-class pillows for all sleep positions. Even while dealing with PAD, you can take your comfort to the next level by adopting one of the recommended sleep positions while cradling a Casper pillow.

Trust Casper to put the quality of your sleep first no matter what ails you. Take our mattress quiz today to find your perfect match and achieve the sleep of your dreams. 


  1. CDC. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).
  2. Get Enough Sleep.
  3. WebMD. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Sleep.
  4. Cardiovascular Institute of the South. How Do You Deal With Peripheral Arterial Disease?
  5. Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy. Best Sleeping Position for Peripheral Artery Disease – What You Need To Know.
  6. UCSF Department of Surgery. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).–procedures/peripheral-artery-disease-(pad).aspx
  7. National Library of Medicine. Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed.