How do you sleep? Not just how well, but in what position do you sleep? Did you know specific positions can help your body work more efficiently?
Yeah, I didn't either until a few years ago. So, let's break it down!
If you sleep mostly on your left side, this might be good for helping your digestion and reducing acid reflux and heartburn. Sleeping on the left side allows the stomach and pancreas to hang naturally - insuring that our bodies will continue to produce pancreatic enzymes and digestion will be better. Because of the way our intestines process, lying on the left side helps our bodies move food along more efficiently through the entire digestive tract.
Also, the left side of the body is the dominant lymphatic side making lymphatic activity such as detoxification and immune building more efficient; so, sleeping on the left may boost your lymphatic drainage and overall lymphatic system health. So, good for immunity, good for digestion. Sleeping on your left side may also help your heart. Because the blood circulates through your body and ends on the right side, having the right side lifted can help it pump through more efficiently versus being compressed by lying on the right side - potentially increasing your overall blood flow. Pregnant women should sleep on their left sides to maintain maximum circulation for both mom and baby.
If you sleep mostly on your back - you are in the optimal position for your entire system. However, when you sleep on your back, your airway is in the least stable position and that may result in snoring and sleep apnea - both serious issues that could affect your health. Sleeping on your back is the safest and healthiest way to sleep because of the equal positioning of the body and therefore the organ systems. If sleeping on your back is a struggle due to back pain, try placing a small pillow or rolled up towel under your knees to release tension and soften your lower back. You also are less restless when you sleep on your back because your body is in the optimal position for rest. Acid reflux and other digestive issues are lessened by sleeping on your back.
Sleeping on your right may make your acid reflux worse but some studies have shown that sleeping on your right may help your brain remove beta-amyloid buildup more efficiently, which is a key factor in preventing Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological diseases. The studies haven't confirmed this in humans yet but it's an interesting thing to keep in mind.
What about sleeping on your belly? Well, sleeping on your belly has no real benefits and can be the cause of many of your sore neck and back issues as well as pain and discomfort arising from body alignment. (I have to admit - I love sleeping on my belly but have given it up because of the neck/back issues I suffered). Sometimes sleeping on the stomach can help stomach discomfort like gas and bloating work it's way out faster so I wouldn't completely dismiss this position for a short period of time each night.
Think of this as a way to reanalyze your sleeping habits and maybe mix it up. Everyone wakes up a few times a night and if you can reset yourself for what you need most right now - then you can get the best of them all. I would suggest starting each night on your back as this sets your body up for the best rest possible!
One last note here - although sleeping on your left side might be better for your heart overall - please remember to roll over to the right (no matter what sleep position you are in) and take a few breaths before getting up as this will help your blood pressure normalize and is easier on your heart before coming to an upright position (less dizziness).
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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