Physical and mental health are bolstered by good sleep. However, it is not just the duration, but the position of your sleep that has an impact on your overall health.
Because the human body is symmetrical, you might be wondering how this is possible. Basically, the placement of organs makes our body asymmetrical internally. As a result, sleeping on the left side offers more health benefits than sleeping on the right.
Take a look at a few science-backed health benefits of sleeping on your left side
1 | Supports Detoxification
Sleeping on your left side affects your body’s moisture balance and stimulates your lymphatic system. Through the lymphatic system, metabolites and wastes are transported out of the body. They are disposed of via the thoracic duct, which drains into the left side of the heart.
Sleeping on your left side will accelerate and facilitate the removal of toxins from the body, also known as detoxification. The lymphatic system will have to work harder to transport substances to the other side if you sleep on your right.
Clogged lymphatic systems can lead to serious health problems like arthritis, headaches, muscle damage, chronic fatigue, skin conditions, etc. Try sleeping on your left side to revitalise your lymphatic system and restore it to its optimal function if you see these signs.
2 | Spleen Support
The spleen is an organ that is located on the left side of the body. Located in the lymphatic system, it is responsible for filtering lymph and purifying blood. By sleeping on the left side, waste substances can easily travel through lymph vessels to the spleen. The gravity increases blood flow to the spleen, which allows it to filter impurities. As a result, the spleen functions better when you sleep on your left side.
Rather than being pumped by the heart, the lymph system drains all the body cells through movement and muscle contraction. Helping the lymph to drain to the heart and spleen with gravitational force is beneficial.
3 | Safeguard Pregnant Women
Midwife Gail Tully, founder of Spinning Babies and a foetal and mother positioning expert, says sleeping on the left side during the last trimester of pregnancy gives you more health benefits than sleeping on the right.
When a pregnant woman is flat on her back, the inferior vena cava is compressed and venous return is decreased. As a result, the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute is reduced and may affect a baby’s health or lead to a need for C surgery.
Sleeping on your left side can help lift the bump and relieve pressure from your uterus off the right side of your abdomen, where the liver is located. Therefore, the placenta will receive more nutrients as a result of improved blood flow. In addition, better circulation, knee and leg support, and back support can be achieved. There is however not enough research that validates these benefits for pregnant women. If you are planning to change your sleeping position while pregnant, consult your doctor first.
4 | Keep Your Heart Healthy
Blood is pumped from the left side of the heart to your body. It is easier for the body to transport blood when you sleep on your left because the heart has to pump less vigorously. In general, lymph drainage towards the heart is favoured by gravity, which reduces the workload on the heart.
In contrast, if you sleep on your right, the circulatory system must work against gravity and pump blood more vigorously because the aorta and the inferior vena cava – a large vein that helps carry the deoxygenated blood to the heart – are located on the right side of the spine. When you sleep on the left, the aorta leaves the top of your heart, bends leftward, leaves your heart, and supplies blood to your body. In summary, sleeping on the left makes it easier for your heart to pump downhill.
5 | Reduces Liver Congestion
The liver plays a vital role in the elimination of toxins from the body. Because the liver is located on the right side of the body, sleeping on your right side can cause congestion to back up into the liver and lead to health problems.
Sleeping on your left side promotes liver health and helps prevent indigestion, bloating, high cholesterol, and even depression.
6 | Promotes proper digestion
By lying to the left, the stomach and pancreas, which make digestive enzymes, naturally hang from the left side of the body, allowing for optimal and efficient digestion.
Food moves slowly through the stomach due to gravity, and pancreatic enzymes are released when required. When you sleep on your right, digestive organs are placed in an unnatural position, causing them to empty their contents prematurely.
It is also beneficial to lie on your left so that the liver and gallbladder can hang freely and secrete bile into the digestive tract to emulsify fats and neutralise stomach acids. As a result, the digestion cycle is smoothed out, shortened, and fatigue is prevented.
7 | Gut Cleanser
In the lower abdomen, you will find the Ileocecal Valve, or ICV, which is the junction of the large intestine and small intestine. Wastes are transferred from our small intestine to the large intestine by this valve, allowing for a more efficient elimination process and preventing bad bacteria from taking over your gut.
By sleeping on the left side, gravity allows food waste to move more easily through the small intestine and then through the ICV to enter the large intestine. As you lie on your left during the night, waste easily passes through the ascending colon, the transverse colon, and finally reaches the descending colon, resulting in an easy morning bowel movement.
8 | Relieves Night-Time Heartburn
Compared to those sleeping on the left side, participants sleeping on the right reported more cases of heartburn, also called GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or Acid Reflux).
Those who sleep on their left side could avoid GERD since the stomach is placed below the cardiac sphincter that connects the oesophagus to the stomach when they do so. Thus, gastric juices in the stomach will not flow back into the oesophagus and acid reflux will be prevented at night.
The health benefits of sleeping on the left side are numerous. Were you surprised? Do you think you’re ready to try this sleeping position tonight? Give it a go and see how it works for you.