It’s no secret that the way you sleep can impact your health. We know that getting seven to eight hours of sleep every day is essential. But did you know that which side you sleep on can also have a huge effect on your physical well-being?
According to experts, sleeping on your left side effect everything from digestion to your brain health. Who knew that sleeping on your right side versus your left side would have such a huge impact on your body!
Read on to learn other ways that left-sided sleeping impacts bodily health.
According to Ayurvedic principles, sleeping on your body’s left side can help your body digest food more efficiently while you sleep. Especially for those living with irritable bowel disease or another gastrointestinal issue, sleeping on the left side can help alleviate symptoms of constipation, as it encourages gravity to help move waste through the colon and promotes a trip to the bathroom in the morning.
Researchers theorize that lying on our left-sides makes our stomachs and their gastric juices remain lower than the esophagus while we sleep. In one study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, scientists fed a group of patients with chronic heartburn a high-fat dinner and a bedtime snack, then measured acid reflux as they slept. According to their results, the right-side sleepers had greater acid levels and longer “esophageal acid clearance.” Other studies have had similar results.
Furthermore, in a different study published in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, scientists recruited a group of healthy subjects and fed them high-fat meals on different days to induce heartburn. Immediately after the meals, the subjects spent several hours lying on one side or the other while devices measured their esophageal acidity. In the end, the researchers found that “the total amount of reflux time was significantly greater” for the participants that laid on their right side.
Improves Brain Health
According to Healthline, sleeping on the left or right side can help the body clear out what’s called interstitial waste from the brain, or brain waste. By “cleansing your brain of these fluids, you may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases.
Reduces sleep apnea and Alleviates snoring
Sleeping on your side can also help keep your tongue from falling into your throat and partially blocking your airway, preventing snoring and breathing issues while you sleep.
“On its surface, snoring could just be seen as annoying, but many people are being diagnosed with sleep apnea,” Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach, explained to Healthline. “This means the body actually stops breathing as frequently as 20 to 30 times per hour.”
If side sleeping doesn’t fix your snoring, or if you suspect that you have untreated sleep apnea, talk to a medical professional to look into other solutions.