Most likely, you probably never thought about which side is better for sleeping, but research has shown that sleeping on your left side can alleviate chronic heartburn and might be beneficial for overall health.
It’s believed that left-side sleeping offers a number of other health benefits. John Douillard (Doctor of Chiropractic and Certified Ayurveda Practitioner) offers several reasons for this belief from a complementary medicine perspective:
Lymph drains towards the left. Most of the body’s lymph fluid drains into the thoracic duct, which is located on the left side. As the lymph fluid drains, it carries proteins, glucose and waste products and is purified by lymph nodes before being drained into the left side of the heart. Due to this structure, it’s thought that sleeping on the left side helps detoxify the body.
Several studies found that sleeping on the left side tends to calm heartburn. The reason for this is not completely clear. It’s thought that sleeping on the right side relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter, enabling gastric acid to move between the stomach and oesophagus, causing heartburn. Another hypothesis suggests that the junction between the stomach and oesophagus is kept above the level of gastric acid when sleeping on the left side.
Encourage waste to move more easily
Sleeping on the left enables gravity to encourage waste to move more easily from the small intestine to the large intestine. Due to the position of the ileocecal valve, which connects the small and large intestine, sleeping on your left side enables waste to move more easily and be eliminated completely in the morning.
Reducing the workload of your heart
Since the heart is on the left side of the body, sleeping on your left assists lymph drainage as a result of gravity, reducing the workload of your heart while you sleep. Also, the aorta — the largest artery in the body – goes from the top of the heart and arches to the left before descending into the abdomen. So, when sleeping on your left side, the heart is pumping its contents downwards into the descending aorta.
Assists drainage back to the spleen
The spleen is on the left. Being part lymphatic system, the spleen is like a large lymph node that filters blood as well as lymph. When sleeping on your left side, gravity assists drainage back to the spleen, helping detoxify the body.
Both conventional and complementary medical approaches suggest that sleeping on your left side might offer health benefits. Therefore, if you feel you’re not getting the most from your sleep, sleeping on your left side may help.