Did you know that over 40% of the American population doesn’t get enough sleep? This leads to serious health complications such as depression, weight gain, and high blood pressure. But even those who do manage to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep may be complicating their health by how they sleep. According to experts like Kevin Wade, senior therapist at the St. John-Clark Pain Treatment Center, the position that you’re most comfortable sleeping with could be the reason why you have back, shoulder and stomach pain. With that said, if you sleep on your right side, you should avoid doing it according to a well-established chiropractor.
Sleep expert and chiropractor Dr. John Douillard says that sleeping on the left side of your body can give you significant benefits and help improve your overall health. Other experts agree with Douillard and believe that a position that someone sleeps in is crucial.
Below you will find the top reasons why you should sleep on your left side and not sleep on your right side.
Digestion: If you are constantly feeling bloated, or having digestion problems, there could be many issues. One issue you might want to look into is how you’re sleeping at night. The stomach and the pancreas are on the left side of our body, so sleeping on the left side will actually help them function properly, says Douillard. When you go to bed, the undigested toxins move from your small intestine to the large one, and then finally make their way to the colon. Once they’re in the colon, they are excreted in the morning. This is why you should sleep on your left side; it helps this process run more smoothly. In fact, experts also suggest that after a big meal, people take a quick power nap on their left side. It will help digest the meal and give you more energy.
Heart Health: Your heart is located on the left side of your body. So it makes sense when experts like Dr. Douillard say that you should not sleep on your right side, but instead, sleep on your left side. By sleeping on your left side, you allow for a smoother blood flow towards your heart. The last thing you want to do is put stress on the heart, so sleep on your left side and give your heart and the rest of your body a rest.
Pregnant Women: Women need to spend as much time as possible sleeping on their left side, says WebMD. It helps take pressure off their backs and also helps with blood flow to the uterus and fetus. Many pregnant women develop issues to their spine, so by sleeping on their left side, they will help relieve pressure on their spine. It also helps with the flow of nutrients to the placenta, which will help keep the baby healthy. The best position to sleep for pregnant women is on the left side, with their knees bent and a pillow in-between.
Snoring: Are you up at all hours of the night because your partner is snoring? If this is the case, there is no harm in trying to tell them to sleep on their left side. Sleep specialist W. Christopher Winter told CNN that by sleeping on the left side, you are actually keeping your tongue and throat in a neutral position. This will help keep your airway clear so you can breathe properly. It’s also known that sleeping on your back makes snoring even worse because it pushes your muscles to the back of your throat.
Now that you’re aware of the reasons why you should sleep on your left side, I’m going to give you a few tips on how to ensure you get a good sleep. The first tip is to try and keep in sync with your body’s sleep cycle, or its circadian rhythm. The National Sleep Foundation says that the easiest way to do this is to go to bed at the same time every night. This will help set your body’s internal clock. The best way is to choose a bedtime that you’re most comfortable with. If your body is getting enough sleep, you should be able to wake up in the morning without an alarm. Also, you should try and avoid sleeping in on the weekends as well. The more your weekday/weekend sleeping schedules differ, the more you’re going to feel jetlag symptoms.
Avoid the Light: If you are familiar with the compound melatonin then you know that it is essential for a good night’s sleep. The brain produces more melatonin when it is dark, so avoiding any sources of slight when you’re trying to sleep is essential, says Sleep-Better.org. If there is light present, melatonin will make you feel more alert, so you won’t be getting any sleep. If you are one of those people that need the television on in order to go to bed, I would recommend lowering the brightness so you can fall asleep quicker.
Watch What You Eat and Drink: What you eat and drink during the day will have an impact on your sleep at night. According to Sleep Education, a study found that drinking coffee up to 6 hours before going to bed reduces your sleeping time by one full hour. And if you’re eating dinner, try to do it at an earlier time, especially if you’re eating spicy foods. Spicy and acidic foods can cause heartburn, and anyone who’s experienced heartburn knows you’re not getting any sleep until it goes away.
Clear Your Head: One of the most common reasons why people can’t sleep is they have too much on their mind. Whether it’s stress or anger, it can make it difficult to have a good night sleep. The American Psychological Association found in a survey that 43% of adults dealing with stress have a hard time falling asleep. If you’re suffering from anxiety, there are steps you can take to help calm your mind. If it’s stress that you’re dealing with, you might want to learn how to manage your time efficiently and handle your stress in a productive way. The more you overstimulate your brain during the day, the harder it’s going to be to shut it off when it’s time to go to bed.