According to experts, your sleeping position at night can impact your gut health and digestion. Nowadays, digestive issues like acidity, bloating, heartburn, and constipation have become quite common due to improper diets and fast-paced lifestyles.
Though certain adjustments and improvements to your lifestyle including staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and adding more fibre to your meals can help combat digestive issues, experts are of the opinion that when it comes to gut health, sleep plays a significant role too.
The position you sleep in at night can reportedly impact your digestion and one position, in particular, can help reduce instances of heartburn, the Mirror informs.
Sleeping on your left side has more benefits for your digestive system, internal medicine expert Dr Manira Dhasmana said.
She explains, “Left-side sleeping easily transfers our digested food from our small intestine to the large intestine. It also prevents disorders like gastro-oesophageal reflux disease that causes belching and heartburn.”
Gastroenterology expert Dr Mahesh Gupta adds, “The stomach is on the left side of the body, below the oesophagus. When we sleep on our left side, it becomes difficult for stomach acid to rise up the digestive tract against gravity, which in turn keeps acid in the stomach, potentially lowering the risk of heartburn and symptoms of indigestion.”
Further, Medical News Today (MNT) informs that the stomach’s natural position is on the left, thus it can digest food more effectively.
Additionally, gravity helps the waste to travel from the small intestine to the large intestine.
For those who experience heartburn, sleeping on the left side could be beneficial as sleeping on the right side tends to relax connecting muscles between the stomach and the food pipe.
The acid reflux process is controlled when these muscles contract.
Similarly, studies show a higher likelihood of acid reflux when you sleep on the right side.
Experts inform that though sleeping on your left side can aid digestion, sleeping on your right side, stomach or back can be detrimental to your health.
They explain that sleeping on your right side after eating leads to heartburn and indigestion, while the practice of sleeping on your back “causes acid to enter the throat again, giving a burning sensation and discomfort throughout the night.”
Sleeping on your stomach is also believed to increase episodes of acid reflux, especially in those with issues like gastroesophegeal reflux disease (GERD).
Besides the position in which you sleep, you also need to be aware of the other sleep habits that may be affecting your digestion.
In case of digestive issues, some of the habits you need to change include not sleeping right after eating.
In fact, experts suggest a gap of at least two hours between dinner and your sleep time, to avoid reflux.
Dinner should also be a light and small meal. For those suffering from GERD, it is a good idea to sleep with your head at the elevated end of the bed.
Going for a walk after your night meal is also considered to be helpful in combatting GERD.
Another habit that can hamper digestion includes eating too fast and lying down straight after eating.
Some foods and drinks increase the risk of heartburn, bloating, and diarrhea. According to MNT, these include:
• Carbonated beverages or sugar-laden drinks
• Artificial sweeteners, such as sugar alcohols
• Refined carbohydrates like white bread
• Foods high in saturated fats such as cheese and cream