Side sleeping is claimed to be the second best position for the spine after sleeping on your back.

But aside from spine, you can improve other aspects of your health if you fall asleep this way.

Just make sure you choose your left side to lie on.

Here’s why.

How Sleeping on Your Left Side Can Aid Your Health?

There actually are many benefits to sleeping on your left side, so let’s just list them.

Reduced heartburn and improved digestion

If you suffer from chronic acid reflux or heartburn, you must know that these episodes often happen at night.

But did you know that you can help yourself if you try to sleep on your left side?

In this position, your stomach is located lower than the esophagus. Thus, the gastric juice does not burst into the esophagus and does not cause you discomfort. Sleeping on the right side, on the contrary, can additionally open up the esophageal sphincter and even worsen your symptoms.

“You can help yourself even more if you use a special wedge-shaped pillow for sleep. It will help your body maintain a comfortable lean, thus preventing reflux.”

But the benefits for digestion do not end here. There are a couple more:

  • The liver and gallbladder, which are located on the right, release the bile more freely if you turn to your left, due to gravity. This can aid your digestion, especially if you had a heavy meal for dinner.
  • Gravity also allows the digested food to move from the small intestine to the descending colon more easily.
  • Sleeping on the left side maintains the neutral position of the pancreas, allowing it to hang loosely on the left side. Thus, it can secrete enzymes, which then help you digest food faster during the day.

Improved waste removal

The second significant advantage of sleeping on the left side is improved lymphatic drainage.

The left side is dominant for our lymphatic system, hence more of large vessels and lymph nodes are located there.

Our brain, since it is most active during the day, can also create byproducts and metabolites. They are called interstitial waste.

One of the most unpleasant byproducts is beta-amyloid. It’s a fragment of amino acids which our brain uses. Beta-amyloids are considered one of the major causes of such neurodegenerative diseases as:

  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • senile dementia;
  • Parkinson’s disease.

However, you can help your brain effectively get rid of them if you sleep on your left side.

How?

The fact is that during deep sleep the cerebrospinal fluid collects the toxins accumulated during the day and removes them from interstitium using lymphatic vessels.

In addition, our spleen is also on the left side. It is the primary organ of the lymphatic system that filters blood. Sleeping on the left side helps direct lymph and blood directly to the spleen using gravity, which makes your lymphatic system work more efficiently.

Pain relief

Sometimes, a change in a sleeping position may help those who experience chronic back and neck pain.

This is especially true for heavy sleepers. Typically, excess weight is distributed around the hips and lower abdomen which puts more load on the lower back. At the same time, overweight people who prefer to sleep on their side usually require more support for shoulders and hips to keep the spine in a neutral position.

Thus, getting a mattress that is designed for sleeping on your side is important.

Also Read: Best Mattresses For Side Sleepers – Buyer’s Guide And Top Picks

Reduced snoring

Snoring may interrupt not only your rest but wake up your partner too.

One of the causes of snoring is that your tongue relaxes when sleeping on the back and because of gravity, it can fall back into the throat and block it. Sleeping on the side allows you to avoid this, and as a result, can help you get rid of snoring.

“If your snoring hasn’t alleviated after you’ve changed the sleeping position, then it might be caused by some health conditions. In this case, you should consult your doctor to determine and eliminate this condition.”

Better cardiovascular health

That may sound a bit surprising, isn’t it?

But this is entirely true.

The fact is that most of our heart is actually located on the left side of our chest.

And the aorta — our main blood vessel — also comes from the left side of our heart.

Thus, sleeping on the left side helps the heart to pump blood more efficiently without applying excessive pressure on the vessels.

Perfect for pregnant women

Pregnant women get a lot of benefits from sleeping on their left side. See for yourself:

  • this relieves the load from their lower back;
  • the uterus in this position does not squeeze the liver and, therefore, does not provoke the bile outbursts and heartburn;
  • the blood flow towards the uterus and kidneys is enhanced;
  • and do not forget about improved lymphatic drainage, which reduces swelling.

So, if you are currently experiencing the last trimester of pregnancy, sleeping on your left side will make your expecting a baby much easier.

“U-shaped pillows designed specifically for pregnant women can make sleeping on the side more comfortable, keeping the spine in a neutral position and gently hugging the whole body.”

Tips for Smooth Switching to Side Sleeping

Old habits die hard.

You may have tried to teach yourself to sleep on your left side, but eventually failed.

These tricks can help you break your habits in order to get maximum health benefits from sleep.

  • Sew a tennis ball to your pajamas. This simple trick proved to be quite effective. Just take the old pajamas and sew the ball around the lumbar area. Thus, when you decide to roll over onto your back during sleep, it will prevent you from doing this and you will have to return to your side again.
  • Trick your brain. Lie down to sleep on the opposite side of the bed. The brain may perceive it as a “big change”, so it will focus on adjusting to this change and at the same time will not pay much attention to the sleeping position.
  • Buy a suitable mattress. Of course, no tricks will work if you just feel uncomfortable. So, you may want to buy a mattress that is more suitable for sleeping on the side. Models for side sleeper allow for deeper sinkage, thus cradling your body properly and eliminating your pressure points.
  • Check the pillows. Our neck and head also need support when we sleep on the side. Therefore, buying a suitable pillow that will gently contour your cervical area and support your head without pinching nerves and blood vessels is another key factor for a comfortable and healthy rest.

Additional Sources

Sleeping Positions To Stay Healthy: The Best And Worst Ways To Sleep During The Night

Sleeping On Your Side Is Good For Your Brain

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 828 other subscribers.

Follow us on Twitter