Sleep positions… side by side

Many people do not sleep in one position the entire night.  However, the most common position is on one’s side. But does it matter which side you sleep on?

In a study in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, scientists recruited a group of healthy subjects and fed them high-fat meals on different days to induce heartburn. Immediately after the meals, the subjects spent four hours lying on one side or the other as devices measured their esophageal acidity.

Ultimately, the researchers found that there was a significant increase in acidity for those subjects that laid on their right side.

In contrast, several studies have found that sleeping on your left side will worsen the condition mentioned above, whereas if you are on your right it can help calm. For people with stomach disorders, sleeping on your left makes esophageal sphincter (the channel between the stomach and esophagus), weaken, which makes the stomach acid go up into the esophagus, in turn creating burning in the stomach.

When lying on your right side, you may lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which is good for individuals suffering from heart conditions. Lying on the left side decreases your heart’s ability to function properly.

Doctors don’t fully understand why this happens, only that the heart is in a better position in the body when you lie on your right side rather than your left.  It could be because the majority of our internal organs, including your larger right lung, are not pressing against the heart.

In general, doctors will advise people sleep on an angle so the gravitational force can be maintained to keep the stomach contents from entering the esophagus.

During pregnancy your doctor may tell you to sleep on your left side, especially as the pregnancy lengthens. The reason for this is the position of your liver. When you sleep on your left side, you take the pressure from your uterus off the liver, since the liver is on the right side of your abdomen. This in turn can help blood flow – and therefore nutrients – to the placenta.

Despite the mixed data on this subject, one thing is clear.  When sleeping on your side, you need a higher loft pillow than if you slept on your back or stomach.  The pillow should fill in the gap between your shoulder and your head while keeping your neck in line with your spine.  Therefore, those with broader shoulders would require an even higher loft.

At Dormio Organic beds, we offer over 50 pillows for all types of sleep positions and shoulder widths.  Don’t let your pillow become a pain in the neck. Stop in today to try one out!

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