Is sleeping on your side good for you?

Is sleeping on your side good for you?

We’ve all had periods of poor sleep, whether it’s due to stress, life changes, or getting into bad habits. But your preferred position can potentially affect the quality of your sleep, as well as your health during your waking hours.

Almost two-thirds of adults sleep on their left or right side. Rolling into a ball and falling into a sound sleep seems like one of the safest ways to get the 7 to 9 hours of sleep that most adults need. But is sleeping on your side good for you? Does it matter which side you prefer?

We reached out to Jay Meadows (PhD), sleep physiologist and co-founder of Sleep School, to reveal the pros and cons of side sleeping—and also to find out the best position for most people to fall into at night.

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(Image credit: Getty)

What are the benefits of lying on your side?

Meet the expert

Dr Guy Meadows is a sleep physiologist with a PhD (PhD) from Imperial College, London. He is also a co-founder of The Sleep School, which has helped more than 25,000 individuals recover from insomnia through natural means. For more than 20 years, Dr. Meadows has dedicated himself to helping people with chronic insomnia and regularly attends, presents and runs workshops.

There are many health benefits of side sleeping – mainly related to mouth and breathing.

If you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea, this is the best position for you and your sleeping partner. “[Side sleeping is] It is frequently recommended for patients with severe snoring or obstructive sleep apnea because it is a kind of topical treatment; It helps keep the tongue further down the throat, which means your airways are cleared for better breathing, says Dr. Meadows.

For anyone who occasionally suffers from GERD, Dr. Meadows says sleeping on the left side is best Research has shown. If you sleep on your right side and suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, stomach acid may spill into the lining of your esophagus, causing that uncomfortable burning feeling.

“It’s better for digestion since our stomach is on the left side,” says Dr. Meadows, and studies have shown that reflux is worse when sleeping on the left side. And although digestion slows down while you sleep, this process continues to work all the time. the night “.

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What happens when you lie on your side?

Although lying on your side to sleep is great for snoring and acid reflux, it won’t be good for your back or spine.

Dr. Meadows explains that sleeping on your side “can put stress on the lower back. It pushes the spine out of its neutral alignment, thus increasing the chance of aches and pains in the morning.” This is especially the case if you cradle your knees into your body because your spine is no longer elongated, as it is during the day.

Midnight Helix Mattress

(Image credit: Helix Sleep)

What if you find this the most comfortable position, but you’re starting to get a bad back? “Putting a pillow between the knees is often a great way to reduce stress on the lower back,” says Dr. Meadows, as it will reduce any stress on the spine and hips.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re sleeping on one of the best mattresses for side sleepers, which features support for your spine as well as cushioning along your hips and shoulders to relieve pressure.

Should you sleep on your side if you’re pregnant?

Sleeping on your side is recommended if you’re pregnant – you’ll likely find it more comfortable, especially when your baby’s belly starts to grow.

When you sleep on your side, it allows more blood to flow directly to the baby. Search from separate studies – including this study in Sydney from 2015 – I concluded that it is safe for women, especially in the third trimester, to sleep on their side. According to research, women who sleep on their backs, especially during the third trimester, have an increased chance of stillbirth.

The best position is on your chosen side, with your legs bent, but does it matter which side?

According to Dr. Meadows: “Research on pregnancy shows that sleeping on your left side increases blood flow from mother to child, although interestingly enough a review was done in 2019 and they analyzed all the data, and they didn’t find a difference between either side. So. It really comes down to preference.”

Why lie some of us in the position of the foot?

Sleeping on your side, in the foot-to-toe position, as we did in the womb, is a popular position—especially among people who suffer from insomnia. Dr. Meadows says this has to do with safety:

“People like to be curled up in a ball—perhaps because there is some kind of sense of safety or security. Our ability to be aware of what is going on is fundamental to our survival.”

“We know there are many reasons insomnia keeps people awake—one of which is that they’ve learned to associate the night with danger. So, there’s definitely that kind of connection to being in the fetal position in the womb.”

  • Read more: Why can’t I sleep when I’m tired?

Couple sleeping in bed together

(Image credit: Getty)

What is the best sleeping position?

Sleeping on your side can be bad for your lower back, but it can help people with acid reflux or even more serious conditions like sleep apnea. However, if you do not suffer from any of these problems, sleeping on your back is the healthiest position for your overall health and spine.

Sleeping on your back, which some find uncomfortable, will keep your spine straight and give you a more restful sleep. Sleeping on the front is said to be the least healthy position because over time, it will create a natural curve in your back. For most of us, the greatest amount of weight is located in our stomachs.

However, Dr. Meadows says rest is always key. “Unless there is an overriding medical condition, I will choose to sleep in the position you find most comfortable.”

It is essential that you sleep on the best mattress for your preferred sleeping style, as this will ensure that you get the support and pressure relief you need in the right places. Alternatively, you can get a mattress topper to make your existing bed as comfortable as you need it to be.

Finding the best pillow for your dominant sleeping position is also key to a good night’s sleep. You can take this simple test to see if you’re sleeping on the wrong pillow.

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