The side of your body (left or right) you sleep on may be a significant factor for your overall sleep health. According to Ayurveda (one of the world’s oldest mind-body healing systems), the left side and the right side of the body are very different – which can explain why you may often have pain on one side of the body and not the other. Consequently, sleeping on one side in particular provides a few additional perks.
Health expert Dr. John Douillard has expanded on the Ayurveda theory with an interesting explanation as to why sleeping on your left side is anatomically logical. Here are the top reasons for why you may want to start sleeping on your left side.
1. Good For Your Heart
Sleeping on your left side is ideal for your heart. The aorta (the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body) curves to the left and goes down to the abdomen. So when you’re laying on your left side, the heart pumps downhill and uses gravity to make the heart’s job a little easier.
2. Aids Your Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a circulatory system of tissues and organs that help rid the body of waste, toxins and other unwanted materials. It also works along with the rest of the immune system to fight infections. Your lymphatic system primarily empties into the left side above your heart. The lymph drains by muscular contractions, and gravity will help when you sleep on the left side.
3. Great For Digestion
There have been several studies that suggest “left-side sleepers” have reduced heartburn, compared to “right-side sleepers” that have higher acidic levels. Gravity plays a major role in helping food move more easily from the large intestine into the colon. The stomach and pancreas are also able to hang naturally in this position.
Pregnant women can find it particularly beneficial to sleep on the left side for optimal blood flow to the fetus. It is also helps with circulation and prevents the uterus from applying pressure to the liver.
5. Relieve Back Pain
Sleeping on the left side can also help relieve back pain. In comparison to sleeping on your back and stomach, sleeping on either side with your legs together can help reduce back pain by relieving pressure on the spine. Most experts recommend placing a pillow between your legs as well to keep your spine properly aligned.
If you find it difficult to sleep on your left side, you can try putting a pillow behind your back to help prevent rolling over. However, if you find you are more comfortable sleeping in a different position, experts generally agree that it’s best to simply sleep how you are most comfortable – it’s not worth losing sleep over (literally).
Regardless of which position you primarily sleep in, it’s important to have a supportive mattress that allows the spine to rest in natural alignment. It’s important to replace your mattress about every 7 years. A mattress that is worn out, lumpy or sags in the middle will make it hard to get a good night’s rest regardless of which position you sleep in.