Poor Circulation When Lying Down:

Poor Circulation When Lying Down: Causes & How to Treat

Table of Contents

Most of us have experienced that numbing, prickly sensation of an arm or leg “falling asleep.” Awkward and prolonged sitting positions restrict blood flow to certain areas of the body, causing that uncomfortable and unmistakable tingling feeling. 

For some, this is only an occasional nuisance, quickly fading away after switching to a more comfortable position, but for many people, poor blood circulation is a frequent and unwelcome nightly companion. 

Lying down limits blood flow to your extremities, particularly your legs and feet. Without the downward force of gravity on your side, your blood has to fight to circulate through your body. 

When all you need is a good night’s rest, poor circulation can leave you tired and unmotivated, which can create an unwanted cycle of discomfort. Learn more about what causes poor circulation and how you can start to find relief today. 

Symptoms of Poor Circulation When Lying Down

You might assume that numbness is the only symptom of poor circulation, but it actually manifests in several different ways, depending on the person. If you suffer from poor circulation when lying down, you may also experience1:

  • Painful burning, throbbing, or itching sensations
  • Heaviness or swelling, especially in the feet and ankles
  • Noticeably bulging veins, also known as varicose veins

On top of these symptoms, the lack of circulation may also make your extremities feel cold and appear purple or blue, and even cause muscle cramping.2

What Causes Poor Circulation When Lying Down?

Poor circulation is usually linked to other factors; it’s not considered a condition on its own.2 There are a few different medical conditions connected to poor circulation at night, including:

  • Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) – CVI is when deoxygenated blood is unable to travel back to the heart due to weakened veins.1 This causes blood to pool, particularly in the legs, creating painful pressure. Varicose veins, which are visibly broken, swollen veins typically found on the backs of the legs, are one of the telltale signs of CVI. 
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS) – RLS is what it sounds like: your legs compulsively twitch (or itch or burn) due to poor leg circulation. 3Restless legs are most common when you lie down to sleep at night. RLS is often connected to CVI, and can be managed with common CVI treatments.   
  • Blood clots – If your blood thickens, it can create a solid mass, or blood clot, that blocks up your veins and prevents circulation.2 Blood clots are particularly dangerous if they enter the heart or lungs. 
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD) – Another serious condition, PAD is when your veins and arteries shrink and stiffen, causing poor circulation and other serious issues.2 PAD most commonly affects adults over 50, as well as smokers of any age. 

Keep in mind that these conditions, while serious, are both treatable and preventable. 

There are, however, several factors that can put you at greater risk of developing a condition that causes poor circulation. The most common ones are:3,4

  • Genetics, particularly in the case of RLS
  • Comorbid conditions like diabetes and obesity 
  • Prescription drugs, including antidepressants and allergy medications
  • Smoking and nicotine use
  • Caffeine and alcohol consumption

Remember that it’s often difficult to determine what’s causing your poor circulation on your own. While many people with poor circulation may have one of these conditions, not all do. 

It can be easy to jump to conclusions when dealing with an unknown, but it’s always best to seek medical attention to receive a formal diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

How to Improve Your Circulation at Night

Poor circulation is quite common, especially as you age. The positive side to this is that there’s now a wealth of information and research available on how to increase circulation in legs

With the support of your doctor, these simple home remedies could allow you to sleep soundly through the night—without your limbs “falling asleep” with you. 

Heat and Cold Therapy

Opposites on the temperature spectrum, heat and cold also create vastly different responses in the body. However, both can be effective in correcting poor circulation5:

  • Heat therapy – This causes the dilation of blood vessels, leading to waste removal, increased blood flow, and improved circulation. 
  • Cold therapy – This reduces inflammation and swelling, which is one of the common symptoms of poor circulation when lying down.

Heat and cold therapies can be applied in a number of ways, from ice packs or heating pads to warm or cold baths. Remember to test the temperature beforehand, and always place a towel or wrap between your skin and the cold or hot compress.

Massage and Acupressure

In the case of massages, kneading and firmly pressing your muscles can in turn stimulate weak or stiff veins to promote better blood flow.3

While massaging is a useful way to promote blood circulation, it can be difficult to adequately stimulate your own muscles with your hands alone. If you need extra help reaching difficult spots or applying effective pressure, try using massaging technology like vibrating foam rollers and massage guns, or seek help from a professional masseuse. 

Prop Up Your Legs

Your heart is a powerful muscle that’s able to circulate blood from your head to your toes and back again. But gravity also affects your body’s circulation. 

Ever flipped upside down and felt the blood rush to your head? That’s gravity at work. 

Likewise, lying down disrupts your body’s ability to circulate blood. As such, blood can collect in your legs rather than continuing its path through your bloodstream. This blood is therefore deoxygenated, meaning it no longer carries vital nutrients your body needs. Under normal circumstances, the blood circulates back to the heart to pick up more nutrients, but because your legs are horizontal, it can’t complete its journey.

By elevating your legs above your heart, stacked on blankets or pillows, you can use gravity to your advantage and combat poor circulation, even while you sleep.1

Healthy Diet and Proper Hydration

What you do during the day has a large effect on how you sleep at night. Eating a healthy diet and drinking lots of water will not only make you feel more energized and active during the day, it will help you rest easier at night.

For better circulation, stay away from excess fats and salt, and try to incorporate these foods instead2:

  • Fruits and vegetables, packed with antioxidants
  • Whole grains, high in fiber
  • Oily fish, high in omega-3 fatty acids 
  • Nuts, rich in healthy fats

Dehydration is another cause of poor circulation; it causes your blood to thicken due to sodium retainment.2 You may have heard the hydration standard of 8 cups a day, but most people need between 11 and 13 cups to remain properly hydrated. If your daily diet is relatively high in salty foods, proper hydration is especially important.

Curbing unhealthy habits, like excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, as well as smoking, will also help your sleep and circulation improve. 

Gentle Stretching and Exercises

Many people with poor circulation see their symptoms decrease or even vanish as soon as they start stretching regularly. 

Studies show that performing simple leg stretches can stimulate stiff arteries and fend off heart-related diseases.6 Stretching promotes blood flow, especially to areas that are far away from your heart and need that extra push.

Here are some easy stretches you can do from the comfort of a bed or chair7:

  • Ankle flexes and rotations
  • Leg lifts, with the optional aid of a belt or strap
  • Bending your knees to your chest and extending them back out

One of the easiest exercises for proper circulation and heart health is walking. By increasing your heart rate through mild, simple cardio, you’ll be increasing blood flow in tandem. Walking can even help your legs grow new blood vessels.2

If your daily life is relatively sedentary and you often find yourself seated in front of the computer for work or school, consider an at-home treadmill that you can store and use with ease.

If you want to combine the positive effects of gentle exercise and stretching, try your hand at yoga. Yoga practice is also a valuable stress reliever, which can help you lie down and fall asleep with more ease. 

How Vibration Plates Can Help

Vibration is another powerful tool you can use to relieve and prevent poor circulation. 

Many studies have shown the positive effects of vibration frequencies on blood flow.8 Vibration plates induce whole-body vibrations (WBV) that cause your muscles to quickly contract and relax, loosening stiff veins and arteries and promoting the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the areas of your body that need them most. As such, whole body vibration benefits can be a powerful weapon against poor circulation problems.

While you can simply stand on a vibration plate and reap the rewards, you’ll experience the best effects when you perform easy vibration plate exercises while the vibrations move through your body. Not only will it help with circulation, but it’ll increase muscle strength and flexibility, too. These are only a few of the many benefits of vibration plates.

Lifepro offers high-quality and user-friendly vibration plates, perfect for newbies and experts alike. Browse our wide assortment and get your blood pumping the way it should. 


  1. Center for Vein Restoration. How to Improve Circulation in Legs While Sleeping. https://www.centerforvein.com/blog/how-to-improve-circulation-in-legs-while-sleeping 
  2. Modern Heart and Vascular. Symptoms of Poor Circulation in Your Body. https://www.modernheartandvascular.com/symptoms-of-poor-circulation/ 
  3. Heart Vascular & Leg Center. Why Are Your Legs Keeping You Up at Night? https://www.heartandleg.com/blog/why-are-your-legs-keeping-you-up-at-night 
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Poor Circulation. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21882-poor-circulation 
  5. Southeast Pain and Spine Care. Heat and Cold Therapy. https://www.sepainandspinecare.com/heat-and-cold-therapy/ 
  6. Harvard Health Publishing. Leg stretching may improve blood flow and prevent strokes. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/leg-stretching-may-improve-blood-flow-and-prevent-strokes 
  7. Healthline. What Helps Increase Circulation in Your Legs? https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-increase-circulation-in-legs 
  8. West Hartford Chiropractic. Blood Flow and Circulation. https://westhartfordchiropractic.com/wave-whole-body-vibration/whole-body-vibration--articles/blood-flow-and-circulation.html 


Joel Gottehrer

Joel Gottehrer is the Co-Founder of Lifepro Fitness and has dedicated his life to helping people transform theirs. With over 12 years of experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and owner of two personal training studios, Joel has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to helping transform lives. After suffering from physical injuries, Joel and his business partner, Abraham Brach, came together with a common goal to alleviate the pain caused by their injuries.

They continued to find themselves disappointed with the results stemming from various products promising to relieve their pain, and with that – Lifepro Fitness was born. Joel's mission is to have a positive impact on millions of lives with the Lifepro brand. Whether it's finding new and innovative ways to help people recover from injuries or developing products to improve overall wellness, Joel is always looking for ways to push the boundaries. Thanks to his commitment to help people live their lives free of pain, Lifepro has been able to do this for thousands of people since its founding in 2017.

Back to blog