Elevating the head of your bed: Does it help POTS?

One common suggestion for POTS patients is to sleep with the head of the bed elevated about 4-12 inches, because it may help expand plasma volume [1]. This is usually done by putting bricks under 2 of the bed's legs. It's easy enough to do, but how much does it help?

To find out, we used the POTS Patient-Powered Survey to ask patients whether they had tried it, and whether it worked. Below is the breakdown of patients who gave each response.

Yes, 231 No, 198

Next, below are the effectiveness ratings from the 231 patients who had tried it.

Helped a lot!, 8% Helped some, 44% Didn't help, 45% Made my POTS worse, 3%

It is encouraging that a full 52% of patients found at last some improvement (a little or a lot) from this simple trick. On the downside, 3% of patients said it made their POTS worse, reminding us that there may be risks, so you should ask your doctor before trying it.

Next, we compared effectiveness ratings for bed elevation to ratings of other non-drug therapies, such as counseling, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy and essential oils. For each, we identified POTS patients who had tried the therapy and then looked at their ratings of whether it helped their POTS:

"Massage (n=132)", 63% "Physical therapy (n=183)", 54% "Essential oils (n=89)", 54% "Propping up bed head (n=231)", 52% "Acupuncture (n=100)", 44% "Counseling (n=177)", 43%

What is perhaps most encouraging is that each therapy helped at least 40% of patients, and that multiple therapies might be combined for additive benefits.

To read more details about effectiveness of various non-drug treatments, see our findings about massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, essential oils, or counseling.

We have many more findings here, or to receive occasional email updates on new findings, you can sign up on our homepage.


  1. Dysautonomia Information Network, Pots: What helps. Accessed July 2, 2015.


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