Okay, you probably know that the quality of your sleep has an impact on numerous aspects of your health.
But do you know that your sleep position can either improve or totally wreck your slumber?
If not, take a look at this list of the best and the worst sleep styles, with their pros and cons explained below.
The Absolute Best: Left Side Sleeping
Yes, according to science, sleeping on the left side has the most benefits for your health and body. Here are the main of them:
- No snoring. When you sleep on your side, your palate tissues and tongue cannot block the upper airways, so the air freely passes through. That’s why if you have sleep apnea episodes, apart from recommending that you undergo sleep apnea treatments, your doctor may also suggest that you switch to side sleeping to ease the symptoms.
- Acid reflux prevention. Snoozing on the left side puts your stomach below the esophagus, so gastric juices can’t flow into it, and hence, can’t cause your reflux. Thus, if you have high acidity or are prone to heartburn, sleeping on the left side can help you ease these conditions.
- Improved lymphatic drainage. The left side is the dominant side of our lymphatic system because the spleen — its primary organ — a well as some major lymph nodes are located on the left. When you turn to sleep on the left side, you allow the lymph to flow more freely, which may improve waste removal and prevent swelling.
- Better digestion. Sleeping on the left side can have a beneficial effect on your pancreas and liver. These organs are located on the right side but when you sleep on the left side, you remove the load from them and place them in a more anatomically correct position, which allows them to work more efficiently. That’s why experts recommend falling asleep on your left side if you’ve had a big meal for dinner.
- Great for pregnancy. Finally, pregnant women can benefit from sleeping on the left side, as it can improve blood flow to the womb, according to the American Pregnancy Association. And again, this position will prevent the womb from squeezing the liver and will eliminate the chances of getting heartburn.
If you’re accustomed to sleeping in a different position, you can easily train yourself to sleep on your side, so no worries here.
Second Best: Back Sleeping
Back sleeping, even though it’s not as popular as side sleeping, is widely considered as the second-best position. And here are the benefits you can get from it:
- Back pain relief. Sleeping on your back puts the spine in the most anatomically correct position. Along with that, the supine position combined with a slightly inclined surface, say, from a wedge pillow, may remove the load from the cervical region and shoulder area, and hence, can also suit individuals with pain issues in these regions.
- Wrinkle prevention. When you are lying on your back, your face doesn’t touch the pillow, so there is no friction that leads to wrinkles. Besides, there’s also no contact between your pores and the dust and other tiny particles that could be resting on the surface of your pillow.
- Easier breathing. Finally, removing some part of the load from the upper body can help an individual breathe more deeply and easily, which is great for people with chronic respiratory issues.
But the reason why the supine position holds only the second place among all is that it can aggravate the existing sleep apnea or cause a person to start snoring.
In fact, the supine position can even make your snoring louder and longer. So, if you share a bed with your partner and are prone to snoring, it’s better to avoid the supine position.
Not So Great: Right Side Sleeping
The third place on the list is taken by the right-side sleeping.
Because it’s the most controversial sleeping position in terms of possible health effects.
Even though it shares some benefits of left side sleeping, such as snoring prevention and alleviation of certain gastrointestinal issues, it can also easily make your sleep worse.
Studies find that those who tend to sleep on their right side may have more frequent episodes of night acid reflux, as gastric juices can easily flow into the esophagus in this position. Moreover, the production of stomach acid can become more pronounced if you snooze on the right side.
So, even though it can help you digest your food better, it’s advised to avoid right-side sleeping if you’re prone to high gastric juice acidity or reflux.
The Worst: Stomach Sleeping
And the worst sleep position, according to health experts, is stomach sleeping. It excels at preventing snoring, but this is, basically, the only good thing about it, and the drawbacks are much more serious:
- Twisted neck. When a person sleeps on their tummy, they typically turn the head to the side for easier breathing, and this is where the problems start. If you sleep with a pillow, the combo of an elevated surface and a twisted neck can result in a strained cervical region and pain.
- Lower back issues. The lumbar area doesn’t like tummy sleeping either. Normally, this spine curve is turned inward, and by sleeping on the stomach you bend it in the opposite direction, which may overstretch the deep muscles and give you the morning lower back pain.
- Pressure on the intestines. Finally, your guts and liver, squeezed with the weight of your body, may not say thank you and may instead ‘reward’ you with poor motility and heartburn.
It’s better to avoid stomach sleeping at all costs. Or, at least choose a mattress with a firm feel that will prevent you from sinking too deeply and bending your spine too much.