Sleep Doctors Reveal Why You Should Sleep on the Left Side

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A good night’s sleep is critical for your overall health. Getting enough sleep affects your mental health, energy, and attitude. And, the position you sleep on affects your organs’ alignment and function. Experts reveal that left-side sleeping is the best for your overall health. So, why should you sleep on the left side?

Why left side sleeping matters.

Left side sleeping affects your organs’ function. Ayurveda, a Vedic science that includes yoga,  suggests that left side sleeping improves your health. Ayurveda emphasizes bringing the body into balance so it can heal itself. Certified Ayurvedic Therapist Dr. John Drouillard says that left side sleeping posture aids your primary organs including the following:

  • Helping your lymphatic system’s drainage of waste in your brain
  • Improving your heart pumping of blood
  • Aiding your intestinal function
  • Improving your digestion
  • Supporting your spleen
  • Boosting the circulation around your body
  • Draining of your liver and gallbladder

Here is a breakdown of specific reasons to sleep on the left.

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1 – Lymphatic drainage

Your lymphatic system assists your body’s tissues and organs to remove toxins and waste. Its primary function is to move lymph, which contains infection-fighting white blood cells all around your body. Health problems occur when lymph fluid doesn’t drain properly, resulting in a buildup of waste and toxins. Lying on your left side while you sleep allows gravity to help the fluid drain to where it should go. After the lymph fluid is purified, it drains into the left side of the heart.

2 – The heart pumps blood better

Left side sleeping helps your heart pump better. Your heart is on your left side. When you sleep on the left-hand side, the blood from the most prominent artery in your heart, the aorta, flows down to your abdomen.  Lying on your left side allows gravity to help your heart work more efficiently.

3 – Bowel function become more efficient

Your large intestine dumps waste into your colon–and that is on your left side. Left side sleeping aids your intestines position away from other organs, which allows it to eliminate waste thoroughly.

4 – Spleen health

Your spleen is part of the lymphatic system on the left side of your body. The spleen functions as a filter for the blood in your immune system.  The old red blood cells get reused in your spleen. Platelet and white blood cells are also stored in your spleen. Your spleen fights bacterial infections in your body, such as pneumonia and meningitis. Sleeping on the left side allows your spleen to work more efficiently.

5 – Liver and gallbladder

Your liver and gallbladder are on the right side of your body. Sleeping on your left side promotes bile secretion to flow into your stomach and pancreas on your left side. Liver congestion or a buildup of toxins can cause health problems.

6 – Digestion improvements

Left side sleeping eases acid reflux and heartburn. It improves your digestion, which in turn gives you energy. Try lying on your side after you eat. This posture will help your body digest the meal and make you less sleepy from eating.

7 – A healthier pregnancy

Researchers at the Veteran’s General Hospital-Taipei found that left side sleeping was most beneficial for women who are late into their pregnancy because the left side sleeping position assisted their cardiac vagal activity. This posture helped lower their blood pressure and generally aided their heart.

8 – Snoring and sleep apnea decreases

Sleeping on your left side prevents snoring and sleep apnea. Lying on either side is better than sleeping on your back because side sleeping allows you to breathe easier.

9 – Fewer bouts with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

According to Dr. Matthew Edlund, M.D. patients who suffer from GERD should sleep on their left side. Sleeping on their left side can increase symptoms, which makes them uncomfortable, so they wake up a lot at night.

acid reflux caused by diet and sleep

Train yourself to left side sleep

When you go to bed, you may start the night on your left side, but typically most people don’t stay in a single position all night. So, if you wake up and find yourself on your right side, turn back onto your left side to resume your sleep to ensure you get the best health benefits.

 When is left side sleeping not right for you?

So, even though left side sleeping is healthy for most people, some people shouldn’t sleep on their left side.

Congestive Heart Failure

Researchers at the Sleep Research Laboratory of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute found that congestive heart failure patients spontaneously slept on their right sides during the night. This finding suggests that these patients do this to avoid the discomfort of their enlarged heart’s beat and to help blood flow issues.

Coronary Artery Disease

A study published by the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that patients with Coronary Artery Disease should not sleep on their left side. Right side sleeping was found to reduce the risk of a heart attack in patients who have Coronary Artery Disease by increasing time between heartbeats.

Left side sleeping tips

  • Purchase a high-quality mattress- Make sure it’s firm because, over time, it will get softer. A bed is a sound investment in your health and well-being, so do your research.
  • Sleep on your left side-Keep sleeping on your left side unless you have heart issues, then sleep on your right side. When you wake up at night, be sure to move to the left side sleeping to experience the best health benefits.
  • Darken your room and set the thermostat-Keeping your room dark helps you sleep better. Also, make sure the room temperature isn’t too hot or too cold.
  • Choose an excellent, supportive pillow- Pillows are an essential part of getting a good night’s sleep. Do diligent research on what type of pillow is best for you.
  • Create a sleep routine– Sleep routines help your body clock work well. Go to bed at a routine time and get up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Turn off the electronics-Electronic interfere with your sleep, so turn them off at least one hour before allowing your body to wind down.

Sleep positions change as you age

As you age, you develop a preference for sleeping on one side. The older you get, the more you will lean towards right side sleeping. This may have something to do with heart function, but it’s not clear why this happens. As you age, you also move less during the night. Kids shift their sleeping positions twice as often as older adults.

Dreams related to side sleeping

Could which side you sleep on affect your dreams? It’s suggested that if you sleep on one particular side and have nightmares, change sides. People who sleep on their right side have fewer nightmares than those who sleep on their left side. Back sleepers are also more prone to nightmares, but they may have a harder time remembering these dreams. If you sleep on your stomach, you’re likely to have dreams that are more visual and intense.

sleeping on the left side
Learn the causes of nightmares plus prevention tips.

Are there downsides to how you sleep?

There may be some downsides to your sleeping position. Here’s what you need to know.

Side sleepers

There are a few downsides to sleeping on your right or left side.  One negative side effect (pardon the pun) is that you are more prone to getting wrinkles than if you sleep on your back. Side sleeping may trigger circulation problems in your arms because you’re laying on them. This posture could cause you to wake up a lot at night.

Fetal position sleepers

Sleeping curled up on your side is a popular sleeping position for women. This position is especially useful to relieve back pain. One downside to sleeping in a fetal position is that it restricts your breathing. Some fetal sleepers use a body pillow to keep from curling up too much.

 Sleeping on your stomach

This is the least preferred sleeping position. It’s also the least healthy of the sleeping positions. Mayo Clinic reports that sleeping on your stomach isn’t healthy for your back and neck. This is because your head is at a 90-degree angle from your body and upon the pillow. This posture strains your neck and curves your spine. Stomach sleeping also smooshes your face into the pillow, which adds signs of aging and wrinkles. But, stomach sleeping helps people who suffer from sleep apnea and snoring.

sleep on the left sideFinal Thoughts: A Recap of Why You Should Sleep on Your Left

Left side sleeping is the most beneficial to your health and well-being. This sleeping position allows your lymphatic system to drain, appropriately helping your body rid itself of toxins and waste. Sleeping on your left side helps your heart, your digestion, your spleen, and your liver.  In the late stages of pregnancy, it can lower blood pressure and aids the heart. Left side sleeping prevents snoring and sleep apnea and eases the discomfort of GERD. Of course, if you suffer from congestive heart failure or coronary heart disease, you should not sleep on your left side. People with these conditions often end up sleeping on their right side anyway, because of the discomfort they experience during the night.  Having a good quality mattress, a pillow, and a comfortable bedroom will enhance your sleep.

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