Scientists Explain How Sleeping on Your Left Side Affects Your Health

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The Best and Worst Sleeping Positions for Your Health
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We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is vital for our health, and I’ve already written about it in my article about the dangers of sleep deprivation. But did you know that your sleeping position may affect your general health?

Many people wonder whether their sleeping position can contribute to back or neck pain, or even stomach issues. Some people wonder if sleeping on the left side is better than sleeping on the right side.

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Therefore in this article I will discuss the worst and the best sleeping positions for your body. I’ll also cover the specific benefits of sleeping on the left side.

The Worst Sleeping Position is on Your Stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can be hard on your back, shoulders and neck and makes it difficult to maintain a natural curve of your spine. It can also lead to shoulder pain from sleeping.

Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on your joints and muscles which can lead to pain, numbness, and tingling.

If you can’t sleep any other way, reduce the strain on your back by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Also place a pillow under your head if it doesn’t place too much strain on your back, but if it does cause strain, don’t use pillow at all.

If you suffer from back pain – try these 13 exercises to strengthen your back and reduce back pain.

Benefits Of Sleeping On The Left Side

Interesting fact: the majority of Americans (63%) prefer sleeping on their side.1

In this position, the person sleeps on the side while the back is slightly curled with knees bent and arms folded.

Many consider this position to be the healthiest, as it helps to keep your airways open and matches the natural curve of the spine.

To make this position even better, you can add a pillow between your knees to reduce stress on the hips.

Sleeping on the Left Side Helps Relieve Heartburn (Acid Reflux)

If you tend to suffer from heartburn, then sleeping on your side (especially on the left) can also make a difference.

Research has found that sleeping on the left side can relieve heartburn symptoms, while right-side sleeping makes them worse. 3,4,5,6

The reason for that is not entirely clear, and several theories have been raised about this issue.

If you suffer from heartburn and sleeping on your side doesn’t help – try to use this natural ingredient to quickly relieve heartburn.

Sleeping on the Left Side is Good for Pregnant Women

Sleeping on the left side is also recommended during pregnancy to improve blood circulation and to allow your blood an easier way from the heart to the placenta to nourish the baby.

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Sleeping on the left side also keeps the expanding body weight from pushing down too hard on your liver (also pay special attention to other common habits that can damage your liver).

While either side is fine during pregnancy, left is the best.8

Prevents Snoring

One of the first ways to try and prevent snoring is to ensure that you sleep on your side, not on your back.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that a common cause of snoring is sleeping on your back. If you are asleep on your back, your tongue may obstruct your airways which results in snoring.

Good for the Brain and Could Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent study from Stony Brook University11 suggests that sleeping in the side position, as compared to sleeping on the back or stomach, may more effectively remove brain waste. The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience on July 2015.

This could help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease because the buildup of brain waste may contribute to its development as well as other neurological conditions.

The brain’s cleansing process, called the glymphatic system, clears waste from the brain similarly to the way the body’s lymphatic system clears waste from the organs. This process is most efficient during sleep.

A build-up of brain waste can negatively affect brain processes, and if this waste is not properly disposed of, the chances of neurological diseases can increase.

The side you prefer during sleep can also have impact if you suffer from kidney stones.

It’s Also Good to Change Sides to keep the Kidneys Healthy

A research published in BMJ on their April 2001 issue suggests that consistently sleeping on one side of the body may make this weight-bearing side more prone to kidney stones.10

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The research checked 110 people who suffered from kidney stones on one side of their body, and found that patients’ stones frequently recurred on the side they favored during sleep.

It was suggested in the study that the sleeping position affects blood flow to the kidneys and can cause temporary slow-downs in circulation to the kidneys so it affects the kidney’s ability to clear itself of various substances.

The study suggested that changing sleeping habits may help prevent recurrent kidney stones.

You can also do other things to keep your kidneys in top working condition: avoid these 15 common habits that can damage your kidneys and follow these suggestions to naturally treat and prevent kidney stones.

What Happens When Sleeping on the Back?

While sleeping on your back is better than sleeping on your stomach (as your back, head, neck and spine maintain a neutral position), it still has its drawbacks.

Sleeping on your back is not recommended if you are prone to snoring and for those with sleep apnea.

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Sleep apnea is a life-threatening sleep disorder which I’ve mentioned in my article about the warning signs of sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back can also cause your tongue to fall inwards which can block the breathing tube.

At the later stages of pregnancy, it is recommended to avoid lying flat on your back, as in that position the weight of the uterus presses on the spine, back muscles, and major blood vessels, which can decrease blood flow around your body and to your baby.7,8

If you suffer from backache, it is recommended to place a pillow under your knees and try a small, rolled towel under your lower back for extra support and to help maintain the curve in your back. Also don’t forget to support your neck with a pillow.9

7 Secrets to Easily Improve your Sleep

Whatever the position you prefer is, remember that a good night’s sleep requires a good sleeping environment and a good mattress.

Here are seven secrets that will help you get better sleep:

1. Consume certain types of foods to improve your sleep.
2. Try these essential oils for insomnia and better sleep.
3. Try this simple exercise to help you sleep soundly and manage stressful situations in a better way.
4. Consume these herbs for insomnia.
5. Try these tricks to fall asleep when your mind is busy.
6. Try this 2 ingredient mix for better sleep.
7. Have these plants in your bedroom.

Resources:
(1) WebMd
(2) 2011;35(4):187-93.
(3) http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/
(4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8071510?dopt=Abstract
(5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10445529?dopt=Abstract
(6) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11051341?dopt=Abstract
(7) . 2015; 15(Suppl 1): A4.
(8) http://www.webmd.com/
(9) Mayo clinic
(10) . 2001 Apr 28; 322(7293): 1015.
(11)  Hedok Lee, Lulu Xie, Mei Yu, Hongyi Kang, Tian Feng, Rashid Deane, Jean Logan, Maiken Nedergaard, and Helene Benveniste. The Effect of Body Posture on Brain Glymphatic Transport. Journal of Neuroscience, July 2015 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1625-15.2015
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