There’s nothing worse than crawling into bed after a long day, excited to fall asleep, and then not being able to find a comfortable sleeping position. You twist and turn for an hour until finally, you settle on a position that’s not even that comfortable and then you wake up throughout the night. Nothing says a bad night’s sleep like not being able to find a comfortable sleeping position.
But what’s even worse than that is not being able to find the right sleeping position when you’re stuffed from dinner. You’re so full your stomach feels uncomfortable and you just can’t find a way to get some shut-eye.
Going to bed with a full stomach might sound like a good idea—until you actually do it. In reality, going to bed full is awkward and uncomfortable and makes it difficult for you to properly digest your food. So that’s why it’s so important to sleep in the right position if you do go to bed with a full stomach. But which side is best to sleep on for digestion, you ask?
The best side to sleep on for digestion is your left side. Sometimes eating dinner late is inevitable. You get home from work later than expected and have to squeeze in dinner an hour before bedtime. If you find yourself in this predicament, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get a bad night’s rest. You just have to sleep on your left side.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing what the best side to sleep on for digestion is and why, the pros and cons of side-sleeping, other ways to improve digestion at bedtime, and more. Getting good sleep is crucial for your mental and physical health, and that means figuring out what the most comfortable sleeping positions are for you.
Gut health:Your stomach is naturally located on your left side, so when you sleep on your left, your stomach will be able to digest food more effectively. This is because gravity helps to move food from the small intestine to the large intestine, thus improving your digestion and gut health.
Heartburn/acid reflux prevention:If you’re struggling with how to prevent acid reflux, try sleeping on your side. Left side-sleeping can help to prevent both heartburn and acid reflux. This is because sleeping on your right side relaxes the muscles that connect the stomach and the esophagus. But when these muscles tighten, it controls the acid reflux process. Acid reflux and heartburn symptoms tend to be milder and less frequent when you sleep on your left side.
While sleeping on your left side might be the best side to sleep on for digestion, sometimes you just can’t help but find yourself opting for other positions. Regardless of the position you choose, it’s crucial to sleep with a supportive mattress and pillow in order to improve sleep quality and get a good night’s rest.
Pros and Cons of Side-Sleeping
So now that you know what side is best to sleep on for digestion, let’s discuss some of the other pros and cons of side-sleeping.
Improves brain power:Sleeping on your side can remove toxins from the brain.
Reduces snoring:Side-sleeping opens up your airways and relieves breathing difficulties, which means you’ll snore less.
Helps with pressure points:Sleeping on your right side can reduce pressure on the heart muscles.
Relieves back pain: Sleeping on your side can reduce pressure on your back that causes back pain.
Healthier pregnancy: Side-sleeping is ideal for pregnant women because it’s easier for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
Relieves gas:Similarly to how sleeping on your left side benefits your digestion, it can also relieve gas.
Although side-sleeping is a great way to sleep, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any downsides. Some cons of side-sleeping include:
Can affect blood flow
Puts pressure on hips, shoulder, neck, and spine
Puts pressure on the stomach and lungs
Side-sleeping in the fetal position can cause neck and back pain
Can cut off circulation if you’re resting on one arm
Not ideal for those with shoulder problems
Whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach—there are pros and cons to every sleeping position. You’re not going to find one way to sleep that doesn’t have any drawbacks. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each position so that you can find the best possible one for you.
What is the healthiest sleeping position?
The healthiest sleeping position differs for everyone. What works for one person might cause extreme pain for another, which is why it’s important to look at your specific health concerns when deciding on a sleeping position that’s right for you.
However, generally speaking, side-sleeping and back-sleeping are considered more healthy than sleeping on your stomach. When you sleep on your side or back, it’s easier to keep your spine supported, which will help relax your muscles and improve your quality of sleep.
Ultimately, the healthiest sleeping position is up to what you’re dealing with physically. For instance, if you suffer from back pain, you should sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. But if you suffer from allergies, sleeping on your back with pillows underneath your upper back and head can help you breathe better.
It might take some time to train yourself to get used to a new sleeping position, but sleeping in the best position for your body is essential for your health. Just use some extra supportive pillows and blankets and you’ll get there before you know it.
Other Ways to Improve Digestion at Bedtime
In addition to sleeping on your left side, there are several other ways you can improve digestion at bedtime, such as:
Avoid large meals at bedtime: If you eat a large meal right before you’re going to bed, you’re not giving your stomach enough time to digest your food properly, so it will continue to digest while you sleep. This makes you more likely to wake up with heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux.
Wait at least three hours after eating before going to bed:Lying down after eating can cause a number of health issues, like weight gain, trouble sleeping, and acid reflux. So in order to give your stomach enough time to properly digest your food, you need to wait at least three hours after eating before going to bed. It’s important to understand the health impact of nighttime eating so that you can make better choices about when you should eat before bed.
Avoid eating foods that are hard to digest:
Fat: Eating fatty foods, like yogurt or avocado, right before bed means your body will have to work to break them down as you sleep, which can interfere with your sleep quality.
Sugar: Sugary foods, like candy and chocolate, cause your blood sugar levels to rise and can overstimulate you, making it harder to fall asleep.
Spice: Spicy foods, like curried and hot sauce, contain capsaicin, which elevates the body’s temperature and disrupts sleep.
Finding the best position to sleep on isn’t a one size fits all scenario. What works for one person might not be for another, so that means it’ll probably take some time before you find a sleeping position that works for you.
But when you do that ideal sleeping position, that doesn’t mean you’re tied to it for the rest of your life. You can alternate between sleeping on your side, back, and stomach all you want, as long as you have a supportive mattress and pillow with you at all times.
But now that you’re aware of the best side to sleep on for digestion, you’ll know exactly what to do when you find yourself going to bed with a full stomach. Long gone are the days of settling for a bad night’s rest when you eat a late dinner—sleeping on your side will be the solution to your restless nights.
If finding the right sleeping position still doesn’t improve your sleep, check out MedCline. MedCline has a blog with advice on how to sleep with acid reflux, how to treat shoulder pain, and many other sleep-related topics. MedCline also offers various products that can help to improve sleep, like specific pillows designed for acid reflux relief and shoulder pain relief. With MedCline, you won’t have to worry about waking up cranky and aggravated after a bad night’s rest ever again.
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MedCline was founded in 2011 by Carl Melcher, M.D, who was a life-long sufferer of GERD. Dr. Melcher wanted to help the millions of GERD patients with a natural treatment alternative utilizing positional therapy. Since development, the Reflux Relief System has been validated in 7 clinical trials. Aiming to help other medical conditions with positional therapy, MedCline has also developed a Shoulder Relief System for those who suffer with chronic shoulder pain at night. Both MedCline Relief Systems are providing much-needed relief for those suffering from nocturnal acid reflux and/or nighttime shoulder pain to get quality, restorative sleep leading to a higher health-related quality of life.