Earth’s gravity is constantly pulling on all of our bodies. Even though it’s subtle, it still causes our spines and joints to compress throughout each day, which gradually ages our bodies over time. The position of “zero gravity” is designed to reduce those effects.
The zero-gravity position was developed by NASA to help reduce the forces of gravitational pressure on astronaut’s bodies during takeoff. While becoming an astronaut takes years of study and conditioning, the good news is that you can bypass all of that—including a trip into space—and still receive the benefits of lying in the zero-gravity position in the comfort of your very own bedroom! All you need is an adjustable bed and a little know-how.
What Exactly Is Zero Gravity Position?
In zero gravity position, your torso and thighs are at a 120-degree angle. Your hips act as the vertex of the angle with your upper and lower body each moving relative to it. Your knees are bent and level with your heart and your head is tilted so that it’s raised slightly above your heart.
NASA’s official numbers for the position are 128 degrees (plus or minus 7 degrees) between your upper body and thighs, and 133 degrees (plus or minus 8 degrees) between your hamstrings and calves. Positioning yourself at these angles evenly distributes your body’s weight. In turn, that spreads gravitational pull equally across your entire body so that no one part is taxed more than another.
Adjusting Your Bed to Zero Gravity Position
Whether you have an older or newer adjustable bed frame, you should easily be able to set it to the zero-gravity position. Many newer models include a convenient preset button that does the work for you. Even if yours doesn’t, you can still achieve the right position with a few extra steps.
For Beds That Have a Preset
Some manufacturers include a pre-programmed zero gravity position setting on their remote control. These can vary from one brand to another, but usually have a button that says “ZG” or “Zero-G.” If your adjustable bed has one of these preset buttons, all you have to do is push it to immediately enjoy the benefits and comfort of the zero gravity position.
For Beds Without a Preset
If your adjustable base is older or doesn’t come with a preset, you can still make it into a zero-gravity bed. Simply raise the head and foot of your bed so that your torso and thighs are at a 120-degree angle. Make sure that your knees are bent and level with your heart. Then, raise your head into an elevated position that is slightly above your heart.
Once you’ve set the position the first time, be sure to save it if your adjustable base has the option to do so. Many brands allow at least one programmable custom setting. This will prevent you from having to repeat these steps each time.
Benefits of Zero Gravity Position
Why go through all of this effort to adjust your bed to this specific position? Well, there are many health benefits associated with it.
Reduced Aches and Pains
Even the best flat mattress won’t perfectly support your body because of the spine’s natural S-bend. Zero-G provides better support for the lower back and neck, eliminating those pressure points. The weightless sleep experience of zero gravity also helps achieve full relaxation of your muscles and joints since no part of your body is carrying more pressure than another. This is especially good for those recovering from an injury or with health concerns such as arthritis.
Lifting your upper body to an angle of 30 to 45 degrees opens air passages and keeps your tongue in a neutral position so that it does not slip back and put pressure on the throat while you’re sleeping. This prevents the obstruction that typically causes snoring, and can help with obstructive sleep apnea as well. Another common problem that can be aided by sleeping in this position is asthma, as it promotes easier breathing overall.
Reduced Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn and acid reflux cause a painful burning sensation when stomach acids work their way up into the esophagus. This can occur all too easily when you’re lying in a horizontal position. An elevated torso makes it much harder for the acid to move up into the esophagus since gravity is working against it.
Better Circulation and Reduced Swelling
Raising your legs encourages better blood flow throughout your body, not just in your feet and legs. It can reduce swelling caused by conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or extra weight. Those who are pregnant or work on their feet for hours will also appreciate this benefit. Likewise, improved blood circulation can help to prevent the formation of blood clots and improve heart health.
Insomnia, or the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, is thought to be caused by anxious feelings and running thoughts. While zero gravity won’t get rid of those feelings, the full state of relaxation that it encourages can make it easier to fall asleep. When you lie down and aren’t bothered by pain or discomfort, your body can more quickly settle in to rest, and hopefully, your mind will follow. The many other benefits of Zero-G also help to promote a deeper, more healing slumber.
Overall Improved Health
All of the benefits above combine for overall improved health. Even if you don’t suffer from ailments, your body will enjoy more repair time each night and a higher quality of sleep. Being able to breathe easier also increases your oxygen intake, which helps to purge toxins and bacteria from your blood and muscle tissue.
For the elderly or those with certain mobility issues, Zero-G is also an ideal position for getting into and out of bed with less struggle. Moreover, the position is more comfortable for non-sleep activities as well. Say goodbye to those precariously propped pillows while watching TV, reading, or working on your laptop in bed!
Does zero gravity position work for side sleepers?
The short answer is “no.” The zero gravity position is meant for sleeping on your back. If you tried to do it on your side, your spine would bend and your weight would not be evenly distributed, resulting in the pain Zero-G is specifically meant to relieve.
Is it worth sleeping in zero gravity position if I don’t have any pre-existing health issues?
Absolutely. Even if you’re in your prime, you’ll be more likely to stay asleep when utilizing the zero gravity position. Your muscles and joints will also be fully relaxed and better able to repair themselves while you snooze. Athletes might even notice they have better recovery time between workouts. If you feel you haven’t yet achieved your best sleep, try Zero-G.
Will any mattress work on an adjustable bed frame?
Most newer mattresses—including memory foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses—will work on an adjustable foundation, but be sure to check with the manufacturer first. This is especially important if you have an innerspring mattress, as the coils could become bent out of shape if they were not designed for use on an adjustable bed.
Does sleeping in zero gravity position really make you weightless?
Sleeping in the zero gravity position won’t make you float, but it will provide a sensation of “weightlessness.” By equally distributing weight along your body, you’ll feel less of gravity’s pull. The reduced pressure gives your body a break from the compression that it experiences throughout the day in normal standing or sitting positions.
Will I have to manually adjust my bed to zero gravity position every time?
If you have an older adjustable bed base that does not have any pre-programmed positions or does not allow you to save your own, you will have to adjust it every time. In most cases, however, newer frames allow you to set a button to recall the position for future use. Many even have a preset Zero-G button, in which case you’ll never need to manually adjust.
Whether or not you suffer from chronic ailments, sleeping in the Zero-G position can help improve your overall health and happiness. It’s also a great position for wakeful activities you do in bed, such as watching television, reading, or working on your laptop. Adjustable beds make it easy to achieve the “weightless” feeling of zero gravity, and all of the benefits that come with it, without ever leaving Earth’s atmosphere.
Chris was a psychiatrist and neurologist with board certification in sleep medicine Clinical Associate Professor at the University of California. For over 10 years, he served and helped patients at Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital with their sleeping disorders.
After suffered from sleep disorders for years, Chris has been passionate about sleep health ever since. He wants to help others sleep better and wanted to make the world of sleep easy to understand for everyday people.