A good night’s rest is important to your health, energy, and attitude. On a good night, we spend many hours resting and letting our bodies recover from the day’s stress. The position you sleep in can help or hinder your body’s functioning while resting. The alignment of your internal organs may be one reason why sleeping on your left side is better.
Why the Side You Sleep on Matters
Although some of our organs come in mirrored pairs, like our lungs and kidneys, most of the organs in our body are different on each side. For example, the bulk of our stomach and the spleen lies on the left side, and most of our liver and gallbladder are on the right side.
Sometimes we experience health problems that only affect one side of our body and not the other. You may notice your left eye was twitching but not the right. Maybe you experience a sudden cramp on your right side bit, not the other. Consult with your physician if you have symptoms that are specific to one side of the body or the other.
This Is Why You Should Sleep On Your Left Side
There are multiple reasons why you should sleep on your left side. Certified Ayurvedic Therapist Dr. John Drouillard says that left-side sleeping posture has the following benefits for our well-being:
- Facilitate lymphatic drainage
- Heart pumps downhill
- Better elimination of bowels
- Support healthy spleen function
- Encourages proper digestion
- Helps circulation back to the heart
- Helps bile flow freely
The lymphatic duct is where lymph fluid drains and it is located on the left side of the body. Lying this way 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.
When you say the pledge, you put your hand over your heart, which is on the left side of your chest. When you sleep on this side, the blood from the biggest artery in your heart heads down to your abdomen. Again, gravity is helping the heart work more efficiently in this position.
Another reason why Dr. Drouillard says that you should sleep like this is for easier bowel function. The large intestine dumps waste into the descending colon on your left side. Again, helping this process is another reason you should sleep like this.
The spleen on the left side of our body filters blood. Therefore, sleeping in this position helps blood to flow into the spleen more easily.
Lying on your left allows the liver and gallbladder on the right side of the body to secrete bile which then is assisted by gravity to flow into your stomach and pancreas on the left side.
Sleeping this way is so beneficial to digestion that Dr. Drouillard recommends lying on your left side for a brief nap following a big meal. He says this will help give you energy after the meal rather than make you sleepy.
There may be a good reason why pregnant women should sleep this way. For pregnant women, especially late in term, researchers at the Veterans General Hospital-Taipei found that the left side sleeping position was the most beneficial. This is due to the enhanced blood pressure-lowering effect of this sleep position on the heart.
Side sleeping can be beneficial over back sleeping to prevent snoring. For those who have sleep apnea, side sleeping is a preventative tool. With sleep apnea, the breathing becomes blocked by the relaxed tongue. As a result, the patient stops breathing periodically through the night. Side sleeping fixes this, although either side is better than back sleeping for those with sleep apnea.
Although you may start your sleep on your left side, very few people wake up exactly in the same pose they went to sleep in. If you occasionally wake yourself enough during sleep to realize what position you are in, try resuming sleep on your left side to continue to have the health benefits left-side sleeping gives you.
Why Right is Right (for Some)
Certain health conditions may benefit from sleeping on the right rather than the left side. For example, researchers at the Sleep Research Laboratory of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute found that patients with Congestive Heart Failure rolled onto their right sides more often than their left sides as they slept. Researchers believe that heart failure patients do this as a way to protect themselves from the discomfort associated with the enlarged heart beating against the chest cavity.
Similarly, a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that patients with Coronary Artery Disease should sleep on their right sides because doing so increased the interval between heartbeats.
Right-side sleeping can be wrong for those who suffer from GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). According to Dr. Matthew Edlund, M.D., GERD patients who sleep on their right sides experience increased symptoms and may lose sleep due to discomfort.