You devoured a scrumptious fast food deal at night and now, you’re waking up with heartburn. You promise yourself that you will not eat fast food at midnight ever again. But does that happen? No. It’s okay, though. Most of us make the same promise and forget it the very next day. Some habits just don’t die, right? At night, when we do not want to make anything for ourselves, midnight deals are our knight in shining armor.
But did you know that the way we sleep at night plays a major role in digestion? It seems a bit odd – how can something as trivial as our sleeping position control our bowel movements? But it does! The way you sleep greatly affects the way food and different waste products move through your body at night. While some positions seem beneficial, others can prove to be detrimental to our wellbeing.
Without any further ado, let’s start our discussion.
How does Sleeping Position affect our digestion?
Before jumping into the science of how a certain position can help you sleep peacefully at night and wake up fresh in the morning, we first need to understand how sleeping positions can affect our bowel movements.
Though our bodies appear to be perfectly symmetrical on the outside, we cannot say the same about our insides. Different organs are placed at different locations. Due to this reason, a specific sleep position can either relax your organs or put them in stress. Hence, it plays an integral role in your bowel movements.
Not only do they affect your organs, but some positions can also cause you back or shoulder pain. Thus, the way you sleep plays a significant role in how you will feel after waking up.
Different Positions You Probably Sleep In
You and I both sleep in many different positions during the night. Or we might sleep on our back and wake up with our faces smashed into the pillow. Below, I will tell you all the advantages and disadvantages of the position you sleep in.
Sleeping On Your Back
If you are someone that unfortunately suffers from arthritis or frequent hip or knee pain, sleeping on your back might minimize it. Not only this, but it is also great for your spine since it keeps it straight. If you are experiencing severe pain in your back frequently, one of the most common causes is a worn-out mattress. In case you are familiar with this situation, you should really consider buying a new one.
Furthermore, it helps your sinus problem. Since sleeping on your back keeps your face exposed to the air, it saves your face from additional wrinkles and also keeps your face free of pimples that might appear due to a dirty pillowcase.
Everything that has a set of advantages also has several disadvantages. Sleeping on your back can cause snoring and also might be a cause for your sleep apnea.
Sleeping On Your Side
Though we might refuse to accept the fact that we snore at night, most of us do, especially when we are tired. So, if you’re someone who snores loudly or you suffer from sleep apnea, you might need to start sleeping on your side. Not only does it help your snoring, but it also makes it less possible for you to experience acid reflux and heartburn.
It helps in boosting your digestive process and also stimulates waste drainage from lymph nodes. Furthermore, it regulates your blood flow and helps to release wastes from your brain.
Wait –what? Our brain releases waste? Yes! The cerebrospinal fluid that keeps our brain and spinal cord moist contains several molecules and debris that are released into the lymphatic nodes thus detoxifying the brain from waste products.
Although sleeping on your side provides many benefits, it can increase pressure on your stomach and lungs. Have you ever felt like several small ants are running on your arm or leg? And when you pinch your skin, you cannot feel it? We call it Paresthesia. It is the numbness of a body part after pressure has been put over it for a long time. And sadly, side sleepers do suffer from numbness from time to time. Furthermore, it can put stress on your shoulders.
Sleeping On Your Stomach
This is considered as one of the worst positions you can sleep in, as claimed by doctors. Why? Let me explain. Our spine has a natural curve in it which gets disturbed when you sleep on your stomach. The spine becomes unnaturally straight and thus initiates back pains and neck stiffness. Thus, you will most probably wake up with heartburn as it does not aid in digestion at all.
The only plus point of sleeping on your stomach is that you won’t snore or experience sleep apnea because this position keeps your airways clean. But that’s about it. However, if you are one of many people who prefer this sleeping position, we have a few great mattress recommendations for you.
If you are interested in the benefits and downfalls of different sleeping positions, check out this article.
Left Side Is The Best Side
Now that we have discussed the different positions, it is quite clear which one is mostly preferred. The Side position. Now, should you sleep on your left or your right side?
According to scientists and many doctors, the most preferred side is the left side. The reason is that your stomach has two junctions; one between your esophagus and stomach and the other is between your stomach and intestines. These are called the Cardiac Sphincter and The Pyloric Sphincter. In between these two, our stomach resides.
When you lie on your left side, the gastric juices are below the level of the two junctions and thus do not cause peristalsis (the movement of the juices back into your esophagus). Thus, this greatly reduces the chance of acid reflux. Moreover, the left side promotes synergistic behavior between the digestive tract and gravity.
However, if you lie on your right side, the stomach and sphincters are in inverted positions and there is an increased chance of acid reflux.
To know further about the benefits of sleeping on the left side, click here.
How Can I Change My Sleeping Position?
Sleeping position is something we have been following since we were babies. So, changing your position abruptly will not work. You might sleep on your side and wake up on your back. It takes time to acquaint to a certain position. What you can do to adapt your body to a certain type of position by the use of pillows.
For sleeping on your back, you can put pillows on either side of you so you remain in your place even when you are sleeping.
For sleeping on the side, you can place a pillow under your head and another can be placed near your back so even when you are unconscious and dreaming about unicorns, you remain on your left side.
In A Nut Shell
You can sleep in whichever position you like since it is a personal choice. Though, if you are someone who occasionally faces issues related to the digestive system, you might need to change your sleeping position.
Sleep on your left side if you indulge in a midnight fast food deal. Or you will regret it when you wake up in the morning!