Most people have heard the advice about sleeping on their left side at some point in their life. While this advice is valid, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. The biggest one is how, exactly, is sleeping on your left side beneficial? There are actually a lot of ways, especially for people who are either pregnant or suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
For people who are pregnant, sleeping on your left side is very helpful to your developing baby. It keeps pressure off of the liver, while also increasing blood flow between the heart, fetus, kidneys, and uterus. However, while it is a good practice, it is not necessary. It won’t hurt the baby if you choose to sleep on your right side as well for a short time. GERD is also a common symptom of pregnancy, and sleeping on your left side has been scientifically proven to lessen both the intensity and frequency of acid reflux!
Sleeping on your left side also promotes bowel movements due to gravity, which is great for people who struggle to have regular bowel movements. This can be helpful to people who have lazy bowel syndrome, constipation, or inflammatory bowel disease.
Researchers have found that sleeping on the left side can also be healthy for your brain! It can help your body clear interstitial waste from your brain. It could reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer's disease, which destroys thinking and memory skills, or Parkinson’s disease which affects the central nervous system and the ability to move.
Sleeping on your side is also great for your spin, especially if you can get into a symmetrical side sleeping position. It supports the spine's natural curve and is gentler on the body. You can also assume the fetal position while on your side, although it can become hard to breathe if you curl up too tightly.
Sleeping on your right side can also be beneficial at times, especially for people who have heart failure, as sleeping on their left side can be painful due to the way it affects their heart.