Generally speaking, people sleep in four basic positions: on their right side, on their left side, on their backs, or in a fetal position. Each position has its own health benefits and drawbacks, but most people tend to choose their position based only on individual comfort. For instance, did you know that sleeping on your back can be risky for people with asthma, as it increases the likelihood of breathing difficulties during the night? Similarly, sleeping on the right side can aggravate certain digestive issues.
By far, the one sleeping position with the most benefits and the least drawbacks is sleeping on your left side. There are many benefits associated with sleeping on the left side, touted by both holistic medicine and Western medical science.
1. Sleeping on the left side offers heartburn/acid reflux relief. This is especially true after a really rich or spicy meal.
2. If you’re prone to sleep apnea and/or general snoring, try sleeping on your left side. Your partner will thank you in the morning.
3. Sleeping on your left side also works with gravity to help improve digestion by encouraging food to move on towards the intestinal tract.
4. Sleeping on the left side can also provide additional drainage for the lymphatic system via gravity, taking a little of the workload off your heart and improving overall heart health.
5. The increased drainage thanks to gravity also assists your spleen, which is always nice.
6. The left side of the body is believed to be the dominant side for the lymphatic system (vital for immune function), and sleeping on the left side encourages better filtration and drainage of waste. If you haven’t caught on by now, “drainage” is kind of a key word to this whole thing.
7. Sleeping on the left side has been found to improve circulation, thanks to reduced pressure on the vena cava (the largest vein in the body), which is located on the right side of your body.
8. The improved blood flow mentioned above is really great for pregnant women as well, since it improves blood flow to the fetus. Better supply of blood and nutrients = happy fetus.
To find out more about the benefits of sleeping on your left side, watch this incredibly informative video by Dr. John Douillard:
So, now that you’re sold on why you need to sleep on your left side, how are you going to break years of habitual sleeping in other positions? One simple solution is to put a light on your right side. That way, you’ll instinctively want to turn away from it when sleeping.
Another trick is to pin a tennis ball to the right side of your back. Now, if you try to turn around, the ball will be a natural obstruction. You can also get a similar effect from a large body pillow.
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