Sleeping On Your Left Side: 7 Health Benefits You Didn’t Know

woman lying down on her left side

Side sleeping continues to attract raving reviews from Medical Professionals and Sleep Therapists. This is because several studies have shown the benefits of sleeping in that position. But, are you wondering whether lying down on one side of your body is more beneficial than the other?

Well, we’re not surprised because curling up on the sides is the number one sleeping position in the world.

Naturally, the majority of people who prefer this position are drawn more to their left side.

But, is sleeping on your left side healthy? The answer is yes. Medical studies have consistently revealed that lying down on the left side leads to better digestion, improved bowel movements, and optimum sleep.

No one sticks to lying down on one side of the body throughout the night. It is normal to switch from left to right which allows sleeping on each side at some point.

Whichever side you find yourself has its benefits and drawbacks. But does left-side sleeping give you the upper hand compared to the right? Let’s delve into it to find answers below.

Which Side is Best to Sleep on Left or Right?

As stated earlier, no sleeping position comes close to the sides in terms of popularity. Doctors believe it is healthier than the other options such as stomach and back sleeping.

Are you a lifetime side sleeper or have you just discovered the benefits of this sleeping position? Well, if you’re sticking to lying on your sides in bed, it is only fair to know which side of the body trumps the other.

The good news is that lying down on each side offers several benefits to your sleep and overall health.

However, the majority of doctors say the left side is the best sleeping position. From pregnant women to the general population, lying on the left offers more benefits compared to the right.

Whether it is bedtime at night or you’re taking a short day-time nap, it is impossible to lie down on only one side of the body straight. 

Hence, side sleeping offers you the best of both worlds anyway. Just make sure to adopt the left side as the default position and you should be fine. I recommend that you click here to read the article we wrote on sleeping during working hours.

7 Benefits of Sleeping On The Left Side

curling up on one side in bed sets up the body for better sleep and excellent overall health. But, sleep experts specifically tout left-side sleeping as the better of the two. The good news is that the majority of side sleepers primarily lie on the left.

Let us take a look at a few merits available from sleeping primarily on your left side.

1. Brain Detoxification

Did you know that the brain has a natural way of detoxifying and dumping waste? This is how the brain gets rid of dead cells and other chemicals no longer in use.

Dumping of waste material and dead cells allows the brain to stay fresh and healthy. Fortunately, lying on your left side cleanses the brain quicker and better than any other sleeping position.

According to Dr. John Douillard, the lymphatic system predominantly dumps waste on the left. Thus, lying on the left side sets up the body for this natural draining of lymphatic waste. Also, the lymph nodes drain via natural contractions which doesn’t happen while you sleep. 

This is why sleeping on the left side is such a great move. It offers natural gravity to the lymphatic system which leads to a gradual oozing of waste out of the lymph nodes.

Furthermore, the spleen which is the central part of the lymphatic node is positioned on the left side of the body. Since the brain drains waste into the spleen, lying on the left side delivers maximum support for brain detox while you’re in Dreamland.

Thus, left-side sleeping gives you the best chance of waking up to a refreshed brain ready to take on any challenge that comes up.

Furthermore, the effective dumping of brain waste can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological disorders.

2. Sleeping on Your Left Side Aids Digestion

Did you know that your gut wants you to sleep on the left side of your body? Well, according to Ayurvedic Health Principles, left-side sleeping supercharges the digestion process in multiple ways. 

The large intestines connect to the small intestines which end on the right side. Lying on the left side ensures that all of the food waste is dumped into the large intestines with minimal effort.

By the time you wake up, all is set for a seamless elimination of the waste with renewed urgency. Also, left-side sleeping allows the feces to work its way up the descending colon which is also located on the left side of the body.

This leads to efficient dumping of the food waste immediately you wake up. Just drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and you’re all set to evacuate all the fecal matter from the body.

Hence, lying down on your left side sets up the body for the first bowel movement in the morning. If you suffer from frequent constipation and other bowel movement difficulties, this could be a great natural solution.

3. Sleeping On The Left Side and The Heart

Is sleeping on the left side bad for the heart? The answer is no. Sleeping on the left side is great for the heart. It allows consistent blood flow, optimum blood pressure, and several other benefits.

Have you come across any material that claims that this sleeping position poses any risks to the person’s heart? There’s a ton of research to debunk that.

The heart is probably the most important organ in the body. It is responsible for pumping blood to all areas of the body. This blood is pumped back to the right side of the heart after circulation.

According to CNN, sleeping on the right side exerts too much pressure on the vessels that pump the blood back to the heart. This can limit blood flow and hurt the body’s blood pressure.

On the other hand, lying down on the left side stimulates little to no pressure on the vessels that pump blood back to the heart. This increases blood flow and oxygen supply to critical areas of the body. It also helps to maintain the right blood pressure for good overall health.

Additionally, left-side sleeping curves the aorta to the left meaning a downhill pumping of blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It doesn’t take a genius to know that pumping any fluid downhill is much easier and quicker than uphill.

Finally, left-side sleeping can supercharge your heart rate to optimum levels. This can be lifesaving for those whose heart rates frequently dip to abnormal levels while sleeping. Low heart rates can pose a lot of problems for your health.

So it is awesome that lying down on the left side of the body can remedy the condition. However, you should seek medical clearance before adopting left-side sleeping if you’ve been diagnosed with Glaucoma, Sleep Apnea, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

4. Chronic Heartburn Relief

Man standing outside the office with heartburn

Heartburn can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable.  It is easy to relate because all of us have experienced the symptoms at one point or another. Unfortunately, some people suffer the condition consistently.

Chronic heartburn can make life unbearable for sufferers. The situation can get so bad that the thought of eating becomes a nightmare. Medical experts believe left-side sleeping is one of the best ways to minimize the occurrence of heartburn.

This is in sharp contrast to right-side sleeping which has been linked to acid reflux in many studies. This is why we recommend the left as the default bedtime position even though you’re going to switch to the right side at some point.

Additionally, numerous Ancient artworks have reinforced the importance of left-side sleeping. In prehistoric Mediterranean civilizations, the wealthy and powerful in society attended regular banquets. Such occasions lasted late into the night and involved the consumption of lots of food and alcohol. 

Attendants to the feasts lay on expensive beds made from ivory to show off their wealth and social prestige. Historians have noted that pieces of art depicting banqueters during medieval periods always showed them deliberately reclining to the left.

Lying down to eat and drink puts the abdomen under a lot of pressure. This increases the risk of forcing up the digestive acids released back to the esophagus. The result is an uncomfortable condition popularly known as heartburn or acid reflux.

Ancient Nobles laid down on their left sides to give the consumed food more room to relax and reduce the pressure on the esophagus. This move alone aided digestion, prevented acid reflux, and freed bowel movements.

5. Gas Relief

Does lying down on your left side relieve gas? The answer is yes. If you’re a tummy or back sleeper who suffers from a regular bloated stomach and excess gas, consider spending more time sleeping on your left side.

Gas originates from the transmission of undigested food into the large intestines. These intestines feature millions of harmless bacteria. These intestinal bacteria act on any unabsorbed food and break it down into hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane gases.

Farting releases this foul-smelling methane gas from the body through the rectum.  This is why a higher amount of methane gas leads to bloating and more flatulence. According to healthcare professionals, passing gas 14-23 times daily is not out of the ordinary. Anything more and you may be suffering from flatulence.

So how does lying on the left side relieve gas? As noted earlier, this sleeping position is the best for digestion. And an efficient digestion process allows the breaking down of a large chunk of consumed food for absorption into the body.

This leads to minimal wastage and the production of negligible amounts of methane gas. Proper digestion also allows the release of a higher amount of the body’s gas content through belching. This lowers the urge for farting which can be problematic when you’re in public.

6. Relief From Snoring 

Sharing a bed with a partner who snores can be annoying because the loud noises interrupt your ability to sleep soundly. Did you know that sleeping on your left could be the solution to you or your partner’s snoring?

Well, this sleeping position protects the tongue from falling into the throat. And this prevents blockage of the airways which causes snoring.

Unless you’re suffering from another condition such as sleep Apnea, napping on your sides should improve snoring considerably.

7. Sleeping On Your Left Side Is Healthy For Pregnancy

 

pregnant woman lying in a sofa on her left side

Is it healthy to sleep on your left side during pregnancy? Yes, it is. Doctors and sleep experts recommend left-side sleeping for pregnant women especially from week 28 onwards.

But what if you’re a dedicated back sleeper or tummy sleeper who feels more comfortable sticking to your regular position?

LiveScience.com says lying down on the left side has got little to do with the expectant mother’s comfort. It is more about getting enough oxygen supply to the growing fetus and maintaining optimum blood pressure for the mother.

As the baby bump expands, sleeping on the back or tummy puts a lot of pressure on the mother’s internal organs. This can lead to a reduction in the amount of blood flow to the fetus and the amount of blood that is pumped back to the mother’s heart.

Also, pregnant women are better off sleeping on the left side of their bodies because it protects the liver from undue stress.  As one of the largest body organs, the liver is positioned on the right side of the abdomen.

Thus, lying down on your left is a smart option to shift the baby’s weight away from the important organ, according to KidsHealth.Org.

Is it critical that the mother switches to the left-side sleeping position immediately after confirming her pregnancy? And does failing to do so put the baby’s life in danger? Well, not exactly!

It can take up to 16 weeks for a pregnant woman to begin showing a baby bump. This is because the fetus develops slowly during the first couple of weeks of life. Hence, any sleeping position you choose should have minimal effects on the fetus during that period.

However, switching to side sleeping in the first trimester of pregnancy can be a good idea for long-term stomach and back sleepers. It takes some time to get used to a new sleeping position. So, ringing in changes early can make the transition easier on your pregnancy body.

By the third trimester, many doctors recommend that you adopt the side sleeping position because your baby bump reaches its full size during this period. And there are a few reasons why you should follow this advice.

Firstly, everyone knows that sleeping on the tummy is nearly impossible during the last few months before delivery. Even women who’re lifetime stomach sleepers begin searching for alternative positions at that point.

Unfortunately, back sleeping during the latter stages of pregnancy is not without its fair share of problems. It may look harmless compared to sleeping on your baby bump but the opposite is true.

A University of Huddersfield study says sleeping on the back after 28 weeks of pregnancy leads to a three-fold increase in the risk of stillbirths. The study led by Dr. Tomasina Stacey is so critical that it features in the UK National Health Service’s official guidelines for preventing stillbirths.

But what if you wake up in the middle of the night on your back even though you had gone to bed on your side?

Well, unless you notice some discomfort at that point, there’s no cause for alarm. Just revert to your side (left side preferably) and pick up from where you left off.

How To Make The Switch

Are you a side sleeper or a combination sleeper? If yes, then chances are you spend a good amount of time lying down on your left side anyway. But, making the switch may not be a walk in the park if you’re a predominant back or stomach sleeper.

Here are the most critical steps to help make the switch as effortless as possible.

Consult Your Doctor

The first step to adopting a new sleeping position is to consult your doctor. Sure, there are tons of benefits associated with sleeping on your left. But, this sleeping position may not be suitable for everyone. Chronic shoulder, neck, and jaw pain patients may experience aggravated symptoms from sleeping on the left side.

Be Consistent

Switching to a new sleeping position may require a lot of work. You may have slept in one position all your life. So your body will take some time before getting comfortable with a new one.

The key is to start slow and be consistent. For instance, it is normal for a lifetime stomach sleeper to unintentionally switch from the side to the tummy position in the middle of the night. If you wake up accidentally and realize you’re lying on your tummy, just go back to sleep on your left side.

Over time, you will switch less to your old sleeping position as you get used to the new one.

Choose A Side Sleeper Mattress

The importance of choosing an ideal mattress for your preferred sleeping position cannot be overemphasized. Now that the benefits of lying on your left side are obvious, ordering a mattress suitable for side sleeping can be a smart move.

The best mattresses for side sleepers are usually soft to ensure gentle support for the spine and shoulders. This is important due to the enormous pressure sleeping on one side of the body puts on the spine and shoulders. A softer mattress relieves this pressure so you can enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Here is the article we wrote on finding the best mattress for hip and shoulder pain which is a common condition among side sleepers.

Additionally, choosing a good pillow can be critical to protecting your neck and spine by angling the body properly. This ensures that you can wake up pain-free and ready to conquer the world.

Click here to check out our article that explains the magical effects of sleeping on a water pillow as well as the latest models available for sale.

Conclusion

Left-side sleeping offers a wide range of benefits to the sleeper. From boosting digestion to improving blood flow, little can go wrong when you choose to cuddle up on that side of the body.

Lying down on the left side can reduce stillbirths and offer several life-saving benefits for pregnant women. It also relieves gas to prevent flatulence while lowering the risk of acid reflux and related problems.

However, always seek professional advice from your doctor if you suffer specific medical conditions that side sleeping can aggravate. Are you ready to make the switch?

 

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