When you find a comfortable sleeping position, it’s difficult to let it go. Most people struggle to fall asleep every night for numerous reasons, but a common one is because they can’t get comfortable. According to numerous studies, most people have a different idea about which sleeping position is the best.
There’s a lot of variation when it comes to sleeping positions (click here to learn more about them). When it comes to sleeping positions in America, roughly 47% of adults sleep in the fetal position, 17% sleep on their stomach, 13% sleep on their sides, and 11% sleep on their back. There are pros and cons to all of these variations, but some people are only concerned with the fact that they’re sleeping, with little to no concern about the position.
Why Sleep Position Matters
According to sleep studies, the position in which you sleep can affect your overall health, both positively and negatively. Sleep position can affect everything from brain health to gut health, and it may even affect how rested you feel when you wake up. In general, sleep experts agree that back sleeping may be the healthiest position for your spine. At the same time, back sleepers are more prone to sleep apnea and snoring, both of which cause sleep disturbances. While back sleeping may benefit the spine, mounting research continues to conclude that there are tremendous benefits to side sleeping.
The Benefits Of Side Sleeping
A 2017 cross-sectional study found that sleeping on the side is the predominant position in which most adults sleep. Side sleepers commonly experience improved digestion and reduced rate of snoring. This can depend on the side on which you sleep, though. Additionally, to get comfortable on your side, you need adequate support. More often than not, this comes from a firm or medium-firm mattress and higher pillows to accommodate the natural curvature of the spine. The last thing you want is to wake up with a kink in your neck and strain in your lower back.
Why You Should Sleep On Your Left Side
According to Ayurvedic principles, left-side sleeping is highly beneficial for waste elimination and digestion. Modern research also supports this claim, with a 2010 study finding that sleeping on the left side improved digestion. Additionally, the study also linked left-side sleeping to reduced symptoms of heartburn. Experts explain that the relief from heartburn is due to the fact that lying on the left side allows the stomach and its gastric juices to stay lower than the esophagus during sleep.
Left-side sleeping has the most science-backed health benefits. The reason for this is due to the placement or organs in the body. The human body is, for the most part, symmetrical. The organs are asymmetrical, so the way you sleep can influence the way organs and systems process waste. Waste elimination, also known as healthy bowel movements, is a struggle for a large percentage of American adults, predominantly because of poor diet. Don’t make digestion harder by sleeping in the wrong position. Instead, it’s optimal to encourage healthier waste elimination, and you can do that by sleeping on the left side.
Left-Side Sleeping Is Better For Digestion
Sure, working out, stretching, meditating, or eating a healthy breakfast are excellent ways to begin the day. It’s also beneficial to eliminate in the morning. Your bowel movements deserve equal attention, but many people, especially those with inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome, fail to eliminate regularly and healthily. Let gravity do the work for you! While you’re sleeping on your left side, gravity assists the body, moving waste through the ascending colon and into the transverse colon. Lastly, it enters the descending colon, so you have the urge to eliminate come morning.
A little pro-tip to sleep more comfortably on your left side is to wedge a firm pillow between your knees. Additionally, place another pillow by your chest so that you can hug it and support your spine.