Digestive issues are a widespread concern that many people grapple with daily. From heartburn to acid reflux, these ailments can disrupt not only your daytime activities but also your precious hours of sleep. Imagine tossing and turning through the night, only to wake up with constipation or indigestion. Not the most ideal start to a day, right?
The connection between sleep and digestion
Before exploring the best position for digestion, it’s essential to discuss how sleep and digestion are inherently connected. Sleep and the digestive process have a significant influence on each other. Poor sleep can negatively impact digestion and vice versa, creating a cycle that might seem hard to break.
When we sleep, our bodies go through several processes, including digestion. A well-rested body can efficiently utilise the nutrients from the food we consume. On the other hand, a sleep-deprived body might experience challenges in this process, potentially leading to digestive issues.
Certain adjustments to your sleeping positions can significantly improve your digestion and sleep quality. Below, you’ll find which ones are the best sleeping positions for digestion as well as practical tips on how to sleep with indigestion.
Understanding the role of gravity in the digestion process
We'll be talking about the nitty-gritty of the best sleeping positions for digestion, but before that, it's crucial to understand the human digestive system's basic structure and operation. When we eat, our food travels down a muscular passage known as the oesophagus to our stomach. Here, different enzymes and acids work together to break the food down.
This semi-digested food then moves on to the small intestine, which is responsible for absorbing nutrients. Finally, any remaining, undigested food is moved into the large intestine and eventually out of our body. This whole journey can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.
Gravity plays a pivotal role in this process, aiding in moving food along the digestive tract. However, lying down immediately after eating minimises this gravitational pull, potentially slowing digestion and leading to discomfort.
The left side advantage — sleeping for optimal digestion
It’s believed that the best sleeping position for digestion is sleeping on your left
Here's why — the stomach and pancreas are located predominantly on the left side of the body. When you sleep on your left side, gravity can facilitate the digestive process as food moves more naturally from the stomach through to the intestines. This is a clear example of how the best position for digestion can take advantage of our body's natural anatomy.
Knowing which side to lay on for indigestion might be helpful if you're suffering from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). The left-side sleeping position can potentially help reduce heartburn symptoms. By sleeping on your left side, your stomach and its gastric fluids are kept at a lower level than your oesophagus during sleep, helping to minimise the discomfort of heartburn.
Other health benefits of sleeping on your left side
Beyond reducing the risk of heartburn, left-side sleeping offers several other health benefits:
Research has found that sleeping on your left side may assist in the brain's glymphatic system's function. This complex system is responsible for clearing out waste and toxins from the brain. Left-side sleeping could enhance this waste-removal process, thereby supporting overall brain health and potentially reducing the risk of some neurological diseases.
For individuals suffering from sleep apnoea, the position they sleep in can greatly affect the frequency and intensity of their symptoms. Sleep apnoea is a condition characterised by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, which can decrease blood oxygen levels. Studies suggest that side sleeping, especially on the left side, can help keep airways open, reducing sleep apnoea symptoms.
There's no universal solution regarding the best sleeping position for digestion. The most optimal side to lay on for digestion for one person might not work as effectively for someone else. However, understanding how your body responds to different positions can help you make the best choices for your digestive health and overall wellness.
Considerations for other sleeping positions
While the left-side sleeping position is often considered the best position for digestion, what about other sleeping positions?
Right-side sleeping can place the stomach lower than the oesophagus, potentially leading to acid reflux or heartburn.
Lying on your back can lead to slowed digestion and a higher risk of acid reflux, especially if your head isn't elevated.
If you’re wondering if lying on your stomach helps with digestion, the answer is no. This position can lead to neck and back pain and an increased likelihood of heartburn, as it allows for easy flow of stomach acid into the oesophagus.
Best practices to boost digestion during sleep
Does lying down help with digestion? Absolutely not. In fact, it does the opposite. Standing up allows gravity to assist your digestion, but when you lie down, this isn't the case. However, if you do find yourself needing to hit the sack a few hours after eating, elevating your head while sleeping can help mitigate issues like heartburn and acid reflux. In this position, gravity helps prevent the backflow of stomach acid into the oesophagus.
If you still experience discomfort, try placing a pillow between your knees. This position can help maintain spine alignment, which is another factor in optimal digestion.
Additionally, it's best not to consume large meals within three hours of going to bed. Giving your body ample time to digest before you sleep can prevent late-night discomfort and interruptions to your sleep.
Remember, achieving optimal sleep and digestive health is a holistic process, encompassing not only your sleeping position but also your lifestyle habits, diet, stress management techniques and even your choice of bedding.
Discover the ultimate sleep experience with Super Sleeper Pro
Consulting with a healthcare professional is critical if you frequently experience discomfort due to sleeping with indigestion. You may also contact our team here at Super Sleeper Pro for expert advice on the best bedding solutions for you and your sleeping habits.
Our commitment is to offer expert advice and top-quality sleep products, from mattress toppers to bedroom accessories, all designed to enhance your sleep and overall well-being. We strive to help you create your best sleep environment and ensure you get the restful sleep you deserve.
Don't let digestive issues keep you up at night. Reach out to us so we can ensure your nights are as restful as they should be.