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Why Should You Sleep On Your Left Side?

February 03, 2022

Why Should You Sleep On Your Left Side?

Choosing a new sleeping position is most commonly determined by the sheer comfort of the sleeper on a given day. Many people find themselves alternating through various sleep positions throughout the night, rather than sticking to one position.

According to the Sleep Foundation, nearly 60% of adults prefer side sleeping over other positions. Sleep specialists report a side sleeping position as one of the healthiest sleep positions with many benefits — however, you must find the correct position to achieve these great benefits. Below, we have answered all questions regarding the best sleep position, and why you should sleep on your left side.

Benefits of Sleeping on Your Side

A sleeping position plays a critical role in your overall health, well being, and comfort throughout the night. Choosing the wrong sleep position, especially if you suffer from life-threatening sleep disorders, can increase the risk of serious side effects of these conditions. A side sleeping position is one of the most common positions among adults, and holds several benefits including:

Relief from Back Pain

Back pain is one of the leading causes of work-loss days, accounting for approximately 83 million lost days of work per year. Millions of Americans find themselves dealing with acute or chronic lower back pain at some point in their life. This can be the result of improper spinal alignment, medical conditions, or even an improper sleep position. Sleeping wrong can increase chronic pain felt throughout the night and into the following morning as a result of increased pressure on the spine.

Reduced Risk of Snoring

People who sleep on their back and have sleep apnea are likely to experience louder snoring than those who choose a sleeping position on their side. Loud snoring and sleep apnea are often linked.

Reduced Risk of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition affecting millions of Americans of all ages. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition resulting in the obstruction of a person’s airway as they sleep, and symptoms often become more prevalent in back sleepers. Side sleeping allows the airway to maintain an open position, allowing easier breathing throughout the night.

Aids Indigestion

The digestive system plays a vital role in body functions, as it helps to break down nutrients into small enough pieces, allowing them to be absorbed by the body and used for cell repair, energy, and growth. Many may not realize it, but body positioning, as well as body posture, affects how effectively the digestive system is able to function. Sleep experts recommend side sleeping health benefits to allow the digestive system to work as efficiently as possible.

Potential Relief from Heart Failure

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, or CHF, is a chronic condition in which the heart becomes unable to pump blood throughout the body for efficient blood flow. Heart failure is treated in a variety of ways, including medication or an implanted defibrillator device.

Physicians recommend those with an implanted device sleep on the opposite side of the device, to reduce the risk of device malfunction.

Benefits of Sleeping on Your Left Side

There is quite a bit of controversy in regards to whether it is better to sleep on your left or right side; however, we are here to help you determine the benefits of sleeping on your left side. These benefits include:

Relief from Acid Reflux / GERD

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease allowing bile or stomach acid to flow upwards into the food pipe or airway causing irritation. Symptoms of this digestive disease include extreme heartburn and acid reflux more than two times per week. A sleeping position on the left side reduces the risk of acid reflux and nighttime recumbent reflux in people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, whereas sleeping on the right side causes more frequent episodes of heartburn that last longer.

Pregnancy

Women go through a lot of changes over the course of a 9-month pregnancy, with their body growing, organs shifting to make room for the growing fetus, and all of the sleepless nights due to discomfort.

Licensed obstetricians recommend pregnant women, especially those in the late months of pregnancy, sleep on the left side - but why? Left side sleeping increases blood flow between the heart, uterus, fetus, and kidneys, allowing for optimal health to the fetus, all while keeping the pressure off of the liver. Many pregnant women also prefer sleeping in this position, as they find it most comfortable.

Support of the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in keeping bodily fluids in balance, and helping the body to protect from infections. The spleen, a critical organ in the lymphatic system, filters blood and lymph to detoxify the body. When choosing a left-sleeping position, gravity, as a result of body posture, allows optimal draining to the spleen allowing for total detoxification.

Types of Side Sleep Positions

Many people think there are only 3 main types of sleep positions - back, stomach, and side. However, there are many types of sleeping positions within those three main types. Side sleeping can occur in many ways including:

The Log Position

The log position occurs when sleeping on your side with the legs extended straight down, and arms straight down at your side as well. The log position is one of the most common sleep positions among side sleepers.

Log sleeping is ideal for pain relief from neck pain and back pain, as it helps to hold the proper alignment. If needed, you can add a pillow between your knees, beneath the belly if you are pregnant, or under your arms for added support.

The Yearner Position

Similar to the log position, the yearner is accomplished when you sleep on your side with legs extended down. However, unlike the above-mentioned side sleeper position, the yearner position is marked by sleeping with your arms stretched out in front of you.

The Fetal Position

Sleeping in this position is marked by laying on your left or right side with your knees brought up to your chest. Many people find themselves curling an arm up beneath the pillow for a little extra support; however, it is not required. This position is among the most common sleeping positions for women.

The Spooning Position

Most common sleep style among couples, the spooning position is similar to lying in the fetal-type position. This position is marked by laying on your side with legs bent, knees bent, often with your chest against the back of your sleeping partner. Some couples choose to sleep this way with minimal or no sleepwear in order to have better sleep quality, and to benefit from skin-to-skin contact

Drawbacks of Sleeping on Your Side

While side sleeping is one of the most common sleeping positions, there are many drawbacks in regards to this sleeping position. Although many people sleep better as a side sleeper, some avoid sleeping on their side, as this is one of the body positions that increases the risk of:

Wrinkles

Sleep wrinkles occur as a result of your body weight being pressed down on various parts of the body and face in a lateral position. They can happen most often if you sleep on the side or on your stomach, so some people may want to avoid sleeping in these positions. The best sleeping position to avoid wrinkles is to sleep on your back, as there is no added pressure forcing the skin to wrinkle together.

Sagging Breasts

As you age, breast tissue and breast ligaments begin to lose elasticity, resulting in sagging. It is thought that sleeping in a left lateral decubitus position allows Cooper's ligament (breast ligament) to stretch over time, resulting in breasts sagging. If you choose to sleep on the side, you could put a body pillow beneath your breasts, or wear a bra to sleep for additional support.

Jaw Discomfort

Side sleeping allows the jaw to be pushed backward or to the side, depending on the position of the head as you sleep. If you find yourself struggling with TMJ, a common mouth disorder affecting the jaw, side sleeping with a hand beneath your firm pillow can exacerbate symptoms of TMJ, leaving you in excruciating pain.

Added Stress

Frequently sleeping on the side does not always provide good sleep posture throughout the night without proper support. When you sleep on the side without proper support, a significant amount of stress is placed upon your spine, shoulders, hips, and/or lower back, making a person more susceptible to back pain, poor sleep, or shoulder pain.

Drawbacks of Sleeping on Your Back

The Sleep Foundation reports the supine position, or to sleep on your back, is the best sleep position for good sleeping posture, as it helps to hold proper spinal alignment throughout the night. Good sleeping posture helps with pain relief from back pain, shoulder pain, or other unwanted painful areas. Although experts recommend sleeping on your back, there are some drawbacks including:

Pressure on the Lungs

When you pursue a side sleeping position, the rib cage helps to reduce pressure, in turn preventing compression of the lungs. When sleeping on your back, especially for those who find themselves overweight, back sleeping adds pressure to the chest, making it more difficult to get a full breath in or out. With an increased work of breathing, a person will experience unwanted symptoms. To relieve pressure, try sleeping on the left side rather than sleeping on your back.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a life-threatening sleep disorder accounting for at least 38,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Your sleeping position affects the severity of symptoms associated, and increases the risk of obstruction, making you feel tired. The most commonly reported airway obstruction among back sleepers is the tongue, as it is able to fall to the back of the mouth more easily. Side sleepers report fewer apneic episodes throughout the night, making for a good night’s sleep.

Drawbacks of Sleeping on Your Stomach

Undue Strain on Muscles, Joints, and Spine

Stomach sleeping has been known to make the pain worse, especially neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain, as it does not allow for a neutral position or proper alignment of the spine. Stomach sleeping is one of the least recommended sleep styles, as more than half of stomach sleepers report an increase in pressure and pain of muscles, joints, spinal column, and the neck.

Tips for Sleeping on Your Left Side

Several medical associations have spent countless hours working together to provide sleepers with the benefits of sleeping on the left side, allow them to know when it is time to seek a new body position, and help them achieve comfortable sleeping. Below, you will learn tips and tricks for sleeping on the left side for better sleep, including:

Choosing the Right Mattress

Many people choose a mattress based on preference; however, they do not take into account their most frequent sleep position. While many find themselves experiencing spontaneous positions while they sleep, meaning that their sleeping position changes frequently, many sleep in one or two positions routinely without noticing.

Side sleepers should seek a mattress that is just between soft and firm, as this allows for the most support. A mattress that is too soft allows the body to sink into the mattress, without holding the natural curve of the spine and providing support, while a mattress that is too firm will leave a person to toss and turn all night.

The only way to truly know if a mattress is right for you is to test it out for yourself! (Eco Terra offers a risk-free, 90 night sleep trial with free shipping and returns).

Throw out Your Old, Worn-Out Pillow

Pillows are offered in multiple support levels, ranging from extra soft all the way to extra firm. Over time, your pillow becomes worn out from excessive use, and desperately needs to be replaced to allow for optimal head and neck support as you drift off to sleep.

Sleep specialists recommend replacing your old, worn-out pillows with a new few pillows every one to two years. Ensuring your pillow is providing adequate support will help to relieve the pain felt upon waking the next morning.

The Best Way to Sleep on Your Side

Whether you have been side sleeping for years, or are venturing out to find the best position for sleep for you, it is important to understand the best practices for the sleeping position you desire to achieve. In doing so, you are able to get the most out of the position, allowing for optimal pressure relief, comfort, and ensuring you are free from waking in discomfort.

The best practice for side sleeping is to lie down on a medium or medium-firm mattress with one pillow beneath your head. It is important to note that experts recommend replacing your pillow every one to two years — so be sure the pillow you are using is not worn out.

Keep your arms below your face, preferably parallel to your body. Place a pillow between your knees to prevent the hip and knee joints from collapsing. This allows for the natural curve to be followed, and proper spinal alignment ensured throughout the night.

If you are not totally comfortable doing the above-mentioned, lift your knees slightly towards your chest to relieve pressure on your back.

Eco Terra Mattresses and Side Sleeping

At Eco Terra, we have worked tirelessly to provide you with nature’s secret for a night of deep, comfortable sleep. Our Hybrid Latex Mattress is made of 100% natural latex, and handcrafted right here in the United States.

Offered in a medium, or medium-firm option, the Eco Terra Hybrid Latex mattress is ideal for side sleepers looking for a safe, comfortable, breathable sleep space made using zero chemicals, toxins, or polyurethane. Our products undergo rigorous testing requirements to achieve the highest rates certifications including GOTS and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certifications.

The team at Eco Terra understands that you must try a mattress for more than just a few minutes in a department store to determine if it is the perfect fit for you and your family. To ensure that you are receiving a product that you will love, we offer a 90-night risk-free trial period.

After your mattress has shipped to you free of charge with our free standard shipping, you have 90 nights to determine if the mattress density chosen is right for you — worry-free! Don’t absolutely love it? No worries! We will pick up the mattress for a full refund within the trial period, as long as it is free from damage caused by the users.

We know how much time is spent lying in bed, which is why we strive to provide our customers with a safe, comfortable, and healthy sleep space night after night. If you have any questions regarding our Hybrid Latex mattress, mattress topper, or other products feel free to reach out to our fast, friendly customer service associates who are available for all of your needs!

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 11 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.



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