You might think of your sleeping position as trivial, but it actually has a significant impact on your overall health. Your age, body type and underlying health conditions determine which sleeping position works the best for you.
With more than half of the population sleeping on their side, side sleeping is the most common and arguably most beneficial rest position. Is it better to sleep on your left or right side, though? Let’s find out!
In the case of some health conditions, no specific sleeping position is better than another. For others, experts have found potential benefits of sleeping on a particular side. The consensus is that sleeping on your left side is generally the healthiest sleep position that promotes quality sleep and alleviates various symptoms. Below, we have listed the health conditions with which you can benefit from sleeping on the left side.
Sleeping on your left side is suitable for your digestive system and can alleviate symptoms of indigestion. When you sleep in this position, gravity can help food move more smoothly from your small to large intestine.
The common symptoms of acid reflux and GERD (such as stomach pain, heartburn, and general discomfort) can make it hard to get quality sleep in any position. However, lying on your left side positions your stomach at a lower level than your esophagus, which prevents stomach acid from going up.
Sleeping on either side is recommendable for lower back pain, but left-side sleep positions are especially beneficial. You put less pressure on this area by sleeping on your left side. If you usually sleep on your back, it is wise to try using a pillow to support your neck and another one for elevating your knees.
Pregnancy may be one of the happiest periods in one’s life, but it also comes with a lot of physical discomfort that can disrupt sleep in any position. However, sleeping on your left side is the most favorable position for pregnant women. According to a 2020 study, sleeping on your left side can lead to a lower heart rate and higher heart variability, which is a sign of good heart health.
Painful periods accompanied by bloating and anxiety can leave you tossing and turning in bed for hours. When period cramps keep you awake, try sleeping on your left side to prevent blood leakage. In addition, sleeping on the left side with your knees slightly tucked in can ease cramps and help your abdominal muscles relax.
Sleeping on your right side is generally less recommendable because, in this position, the pressure of your body can smash up against your blood vessels that return to the heart. When you sleep on the left side without squishing the right side can help increase the blood flow to your heart.
Right-side sleep positions are only better for people with underlying heart issues. When those with heart failure and other heart diseases sleep on the left side, they may experience discomfort and breathing difficulties. A study from 2018 found that sleeping on your right can help tissues and other structures between the lungs hold the heart in place, which ensures normal ECGs.
The healthiest sleeping position for you should promote good spinal alignment from your neck all the way to your hips. The sleep position that works for you depends on your unique health state and personal preferences.
However, it is worth noting that experts consider some sleep positions healthier than others. For instance, sleeping on your side or back is generally better for your health than lying on your stomach. These positions keep your spine balanced and supported, which promotes muscle recovery and alleviates pressure.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all sleep position that benefits people with different body types and health conditions. Your overall health state determines which position you should try for a restful, quality night's sleep. That being said, studies have confirmed that sleeping on your left side is generally the most beneficial sleep position out there.