Are you a stomach or back sleeper? Do you move around all night or wake up in the same position you dozed off in? Do you sleep with a bazillion pillows or just one?
The answer to all of these questions is different from one person to the other, and generally, it’s all OK as long as you don’t wake up sore. But, it turns out that the quality of your sleep can be better than just “OK”. In fact, to achieve the maximum benefit a good night’s sleep offers your body and mind, you might want to look for the optimal sleeping position.
When you sleep, your body is still hard at work recharging your energy levels, digesting food, filing memories, etc. For all of these and more, the ideal sleeping position is on your left side. Still need more convincing? Keep reading to find out 7 reasons why sleeping on your left side is the best position:
7. Improves Digestion
You may have heard that eating right before bedtime is not a good idea because that food will just stay as is. This is certainly a myth because digestion occurs throughout the day, and probably only several hours after a meal. And even though it’s going to happen regardless of if you are asleep or awake, lying on your left side will ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
This is because of the position of our organs. The stomach is situated on the left side of the abdomen, and therefore food passes easily through the intestines in this position. You can also ensure that the pancreas, which produces digestive enzymes, is not suffocated by the stomach in this way.
6. Gives Your Heart a Break
Your heart is the MVP of your body (apart from the brain, that is) and a person’s life depends on its job of beating and pumping blood. This process can be influenced by several external factors, but one thing you can do to make its job easier is to lay on your left side while sleeping.
The heart is connected to the rest of the body through the aorta, which is what carries and deposits blood to it. As it does so, it tends to arch to the left. Sleeping on your left side just ensures that you let gravity do most of the work, taking some pressure off the heart, which would otherwise have to work extra hard to keep it pointing up (left).
5. Relieves Back Pain
It’s kind of annoying when you wake up feeling like your body’s been through the wringer. You’ve got a sore neck or back and you don’t know what to do. If this happens more often than not, it’s time to start sleeping on your left side.
Lying on your left is optimal because it relieves the stress in your back and muscles. Furthermore, this position also betters blood circulation, as we saw previously, and good circulation is key in reducing inflammation related to muscle straining.
4. Supports the Lymphatic System
Sleeping on your left side helps the lymphatic system, a network of vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph, and also includes filtering toxins and waste material. It also plays an important role in the health of your immune system, and a block in it could spell trouble.
Similar to your aorta, the lymphatic system tends to lean left as it filters out waste and drains through the thoracic duct. Sleeping on your left ensures that gravity helps with this natural bodily function.
3. Less Heartburn
Heartburn is certainly not pleasant, and it can become worse when you eat right before bedtime as the reclined position makes it easier for stomach acid to make its way up the esophagus.
Scientists have found that sleeping on your left can minimize the effects of heartburn while sleeping on your right can make it worse.
This is probably due to the fact that your stomach sits on the left side of the abdomen. When you lay on your left side, the junction between the stomach and esophagus is situated higher than the level of stomach acid. On the opposite side, the esophagus sits lower than the acid, making it easier for it to creep down.
2. Critical for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women are advised to sleep on their left, especially in the third trimester, as this position allows for optimal circulation of blood and oxygen for mother and child. A growing fetus puts a lot of pressure on a woman’s internal organs like the liver and spine. Lying on the left side ensures that this is kept at a minimum and that there is good blood flow for both bodies.
1. Prevents Snoring
Snoring can put quite a strain on a relationship, and the other party losing sleep over it isn’t going to get them in a better mood! One thing you can do to keep your (or your partner’s) snoring at a minimum is to sleep on your left side.
Of course, this isn’t a fix-it-all solution, but it does help keep your tongue and throat in a more neutral position, thereby clearing the airways and minimizing snoring. And for someone with a snoring problem, sleeping on their back is the absolute worst position as it relaxes said tissues backward and partially obstructs the airways. Snoring is the resulting sound caused by the vibration that occurs when air is pulled through the crowded space.
Not only is sleeping on your left the best position for your overall health, it can be especially important if you are facing any of the problems we’ve mentioned previously. It’s not easy to change your sleeping position all of a sudden, but you can get used to it with a bit of patience and practice.
One tip to ensure that you do not roll onto your back is to place a pillow behind you. Another pillow between your legs may just help you get more comfy. Another thing you can do is switch the side of bed you sleep in. This tricks your brain into thinking that’s the “right” side to sleep in.