How This Helps

You may have felt that extra energy in you after having a good night's sleep. Sleeping for 7-8 hours a day not only keeps you healthy and fit but also drives you throughout the day to perform well at work. Taking a small nap or going early to bed can help combat your day to day stress. Good sleep can not only make you feel fresh and happy but also boosts your brain health and helps your body to cope with daily stress. 

Do you know that your sleeping position can help benefit your overall health and well-being? And do you want to know which side you should sleep on to get the maximum health benefits? Ayurveda and modern science with many scientific studies have shown that sleeping on the left side can help you with many health benefits. So if you are sleeping all these days in the wrong position, try sleeping on your left side and experience the best of it.

Why does sleeping on one side matter?

 What Ayurveda says about sleep on the left side

Have you ever wondered exactly what the healthiest way to sleep is? Ayurveda says the best sleep position is on the left side. Our body is asymmetric - the left side of the body is different than the right side. While I know it might seem odd, there's both time-tested wisdom and exciting new science which highlights the left side for rest, sleep, and very real health and health benefits.

A Stony Brook University research study suggests how you sleep can decrease your likelihood of developing cognitive issues later in life. The Journal of Neuroscience study found that the way a person's body is positioned during sleep can influence the brain's waste clearance system known as the glymphatic system. While we sleep, toxins are flushed out of the mind through tiny lymphatic vessels known as glymphatic system. The brain dumps about three pounds of toxins, chemicals, and plaque every year.

Researchers used rodents to check how different sleep positions influence this process and found that lying on your side as you sleep could be the most effective place for toxins to flush out in the mind through the glymphatic system.

The analysis found that rodents in the lateral position cleared certain proteins around 25% greater than sleeping on their backs or stomachs. These proteins may promote the build-up of mind plaque, strongly linked to age-related cognitive decline. Further research on humans still has to be done to confirm these findings. Fortunately, most people today find sleeping on their side most comfortable.

See: Auricular Acupuncture for Relief of Hypertension and Insomnia

Health benefits of sleeping on left side

Benefits of sleeping on the left side

Literature surveys and research have considered both the left and right sides of the body to be very different from each other. Interestingly, the theory also suggests that if an individual sleep on their left side, he or she can enjoy several health benefits. Some of these benefits are listed below:

 

1. Improves Digestion:

The stomach and pancreas are part of the digestive system located on the left side of the body. When you sleep on your left side of the body, it creates a gravitational force and allows easy food passage from your stomach onwards to the small intestine. It also enhances the release of pancreatic enzymes or digestive juices into the small intestine, where it helps break down the food that has left the stomach. Thus sleeping on the left side overnight helps in proper digestion of the food and making the elimination of waste food easier.1.Sleeping on the left side is one of the best sides to sleep on for digestion.

 

2.      Promotes the health of the heart:

The heart ensures proper circulation of blood throughout the body. The heart is located slightly on the left side of the body, which pumps the oxygenated blood throughout your body. This rejuvenated blood eventually returns to the heart on the right side. So, sleeping on your left side can potentially increase blood flow back to your heart. On the other hand, sleeping on the right side may create excessive pressure on the blood vessels.1. Sleeping on the left side is bad for the heart, especially if the person is suffering from heart problems or high blood pressure, so it should be avoided.

 

3.      Beneficial for women during pregnancy:

According to the expert's advice, pregnant women should always consider sleeping as much as possible with their bodies placed towards their left side. This left-side sleeping position can benefit them in many ways- 

It helps reduce the pressure on their backs, providing relief from the back pain

It enhances the blood flow towards the uterus and directly benefiting the fetus.

It also helps in relieving the pressure directly on the spine and helps pregnant women feel more comfortable and sleep better.

It helps in a smoother flow of nutrients towards the placenta, which can maintain the proper growth of the baby. 

To avail the maximum benefits of sleeping on the left side, a pregnant woman should slightly bend their knees and keep a long pillow between the legs to relax the strain on the legs, hip, and back.2.

 

4.  Prevents snoring:

Sleeping on the left side can prevent and, in some cases, can stop snoring. The reason for this includes the neutral positioning of the tongue and throat that can help in keeping your airways clear. Sleeping on your body's left side can help in breathing correctly and thus prevent snoring.1.

 

5. Help regulate weight:

Though it may not seem an apparent reason, sleeping on the left side can also help manage obesity. It can help regulate your hormone levels, which affect your appetite and reduce cravings for high-calorie diet and junk foods. It can also improve your digestive ability, which promotes weight loss.3.

 

6. Lowering of blood pressure:

Sleeping on the left side can help control high blood pressure by reducing the pressure on the heart. Since the heart is situated on the left side of the body, sleeping on the left side promotes its natural function and relaxes it. The blood pumped from the heart throughout the whole body may require less pressure and thus reduces high BP.4,5,6

 

7.  Healthy functioning of the spleen

The spleen is a part of the lymphatic system, which is also situated on the left side of the body. Sleeping on the left side relaxes the spleen and allows it to function efficiently. Proper functioning of the body helps filter the blood out of impurities and modulates the immune system to fight against certain bacteria.4,5,6

The human body's left side is the main lymphatic side. Seventy-five percent of the body's lymph fluid drains back into the thoracic duct. The thoracic duct then drains into the left side of the heart, left internal jugular vein, and left subclavian vein. Along the way, lymph fluid carrying proteins, sugar, other metabolites, and waste products is cleansed and then emptied into the left side of the heart. This is why it's not uncommon in Ayurveda to deduce that left-side ailments might be attributed to chronic lymphatic congestion. When the lymphatic system congests, it's more probable that lymph will back up on the lymph-dominant side of the body (the left). Ayurvedic literature also teaches that issues that appear on the right side are considered to be caused by imbalances in the liver and bloodstream. As the liver is on the body's right side, congestion in the liver can back upon the body's right side and possibly cause problems.

 

8.  Helps fight constipation:

Ileocecal valve is the junction between the small intestine and the large intestine. It is located on the very left side of the body. When an individual sleeps on the left side, the pulling force on this valve makes the elimination of waste products easy by promoting its transit from the small intestine towards the large intestine. This will allow the colon to eliminate the waste from the body very rapidly. 

 

9. Treatment of GERD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease):

Symptoms like burning sensation in your throat, choking, heartburn, regurgitation, coughing, are associated with GERD. To avoid these symptoms, try sleeping on your left side. This can help oppose reflux as the gravity will work in your favor. Sleeping on your left side can position your stomach below your esophagus, making reflux more difficult. 4,5,6


10. Better Elimination:

According to Ayurveda, congestion takes place in the body according to a particular system of imbalances. Within this system, lymph is the first detox system to congest, before the liver and bloodstream become overwhelmed. Therefore, early lymph issues may present over the left side and proceed into the right as they become wealthier and start to congest the liver and bloodstream, at which stage symptoms may begin to appear on the right side.

The small intestine excretes waste via the ileocecal valve (ICV). This valve is on the right side of the body to the entry of the large intestine. The large intestine traverses up on the right side of the stomach throughout the stomach, where it dumps waste in the colon on the body's left side. Sleeping on the left side uses gravity to promote food waste to move more easily from the small intestine to the large intestine through the ICV valve. As you continue to sleep on the side, waste moves easily into the descending colon. With the support of gravity and a fantastic night's sleep on the left side, the descending colon is filled with waste and ready to easily and completely remove in the morning.


11.  Relieve back pain:

Individuals who suffer from chronic back pain may benefit from switching to left-side sleeping. That is because sleeping on your side may alleviate pressure on the spine. Feeling more comfortable, in turn, will enhance your odds of getting a great night's sleep.

See: Magnesium Glycinate Benefits & Side Effects

Summary

If you are unsure about what sleep places could be right for you, it is always a great idea to consult a health professional. If you are prepared to make the change, you will find that it could take some time to construct the new habit of sleeping on your left side. You might want to experiment with placing a body pillow behind your back so that it is harder for you to roll off of your left side during sleep. It can be beneficial to try sleeping on the other side of the bed than you usually do. Your sleep orientation will not feel much different (even when you're sleeping on the other side).

There are many health benefits of sleeping on the left side. Besides, there are yet other health benefits that include helping in preventing toxins in the body, preventing many serious illnesses, enhancing the role of liver and kidney, preventing heartburn and acidity, impacting the mind favorably, and delaying the onset of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

See: Baking soda for heartburn & acid reflux

References

1.     Ozeke, Ozcan & Erturk, Ozcan & Gungor, Mutlu & Hızel, Serap & Aydın, Dilek & Celenk, Mehmet & Dıncer, Hazim & Ilıcın, Gurler & Ozgen, Fuat & Ozer, Can. (2011). Influence of the right- versus left-sided sleeping position on the apnea-hypopnea index in patients with sleep apnea. Sleep & breathing = Schlaf & Atmung. 16. 617-20. 10.1007/s11325-011-0547-4.

2. Warland, Jane & Dorrian, Jillian. (2014). Accuracy of Self-Reported Sleep Position in Late Pregnancy. PloS one. 9. e115760. 10.1371/journal.pone.0115760.

3.    https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

4.    https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/top-10-benefits-good-nights-sleep/

5.    https://www.physiomed.co.uk/uploads/guide/file/16/Physiomed_Sleeping_Posture_Digital.pdf

6.    https://watermark.silverchair.com/sleep-15-2-143.pdf

7.    http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/31/11034.short 

8.    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v523/n7560/full/nature14432.html 

9.    https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/thoracic-duct

See: Ayurveda For Brain Fog & Chronic Fatigue

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