If you are obsessed with sleeping, you already know that there are good positions and bad positions that you should use in bed. Worst sleeping position of all? It sleeps on its stomach (with no pillow under the middle part for support). “This position puts the most pressure on the muscles and joints in your spine as it flattens the natural curve of your spine,” observes Raymond J. Hah, MD, a spinal surgeon at USC. “When you sleep on your stomach, you also have to twist your neck, which can lead to neck and back pain.”
As for good sleeping positions, many leading health experts will rightly tell you that there are far worse things you can do than sleep on your side. (More on that later.) But if you’re a dedicated side sleeper – and good for you if you are – science has shown that you are advised not to sleep on one side of your body for several health reasons. Curious to find out more? Read on to find out everything you need to know, and for some great ways to get better sleep right now, here is the One Secret Sleep Trick That Can Change Your Life.
Many experts will tell you that sleeping on your back is the best way, but sleeping on your side also has benefits. For starters, sleeping on your side will reduce your snoring, which is – obviously – an important part of sleep apnea. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea is known to carry the risk of weight gain and obesity, as well as hormonal imbalances. Sleep apnea is linked to anxiety, cognitive impairment, and even depression, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry.
Side sleep is also good for back, neck, and hip pain. As we recently reported from ETNT Mind + Body, all you have to do is make sure you have a pillow between your legs when sleeping. “Side sleepers often pull their thighs forward, causing their hips and back to twist at night,” observes Greatist. “Adding a pillow between your legs will keep your thighs from moving forward and reduce the stress on your hips, back, and legs.”
Sleeping on your side can actually be good for your brain, according to W. Christopher Winter, MD, sleep expert and medical director of the Sleep Medicine Center at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Virginia. He notes that scientific evidence suggests that side sleeping is linked to a healthier glyphatic system, which helps protect your brain from Alzheimer’s.
That being said, you should consider which side you want to sleep on …
Fact: Inside, your body is not perfectly symmetrical. As Winter describes to CNN, your blood flows through your body and eventually returns to your heart on the right side. However, while you sleep on your right side, “your body’s pressure is beating against the blood vessels that return to your ticker,” he says. As for sleeping on the left side, “Sleeping on the left side without crushing the right side is supposed to potentially increase blood flow back to the heart,” he said. And for more ways to get better sleep, try this simple “Fall Asleep in 5 Minutes” trick that is going viral.
If you have heartburn or acid reflux, you shouldn’t sleep on your right side. As a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found, people with heartburn found that sleeping on the right side made their symptoms worse. And for more sleep news, see here for the one secret side effect of strange dreams, Study says.
It’s just a fact that several studies have found that sleeping on your left side reduces the pain of living with heartburn and acid reflux. But there are other advantages as well. As Healthline reports, sleeping on your left side is also better for your bowel movements as “gravity can help clear waste on a journey through the ascending colon”. So sleeping on your left side not only helps your brain, heart, body aches and pains, and heartburn, but it also helps with digestion. Don’t forget to put a pillow between your knees! And for more sleep news, don’t miss The Secret Side Effect of Change Your Bedtime, says New Study.