Is it possible that you've woken up in the middle of the night with stomach bloating, indigestion, or abdominal pain? When this happens, it's quite tough to go back asleep and obtain the rest you need to function properly. Insufficient sleep, on the other hand, might have a negative effect on your digestive system, resulting in an unproductive (and certainly unrestful) cycle.

There are a variety of variables that might lead to indigestion throughout the night. Included among them are your intestinal health, what you had for dinner (or as a midnight snack), when you last ate, and, perhaps most importantly of all, your sleeping posture.

Some sleeping positions are beneficial for digestion, while others might actually make it more difficult to have good digestion.

The greatest and worst sleeping postures for digestion will be discussed in this brief article, as will some of our favorite tactics for helping the digestive system as you sleep at night.


The Effects of Sleep Position on Digestion


We should start by discussing how physical alignment affects the digestive system throughout the day and night.

As you are probably aware, your digestive system is located in your belly. When you're awake, your everyday activities may assist in improved digestion by doing the following:


  • We may benefit from gravity while we're standing or sitting since it assists food in moving downwards down the digestive tract and prevents stomach acid from rising into the esophagus.

  • Certain studies have shown that exercise and movement may assist to reduce the time it takes for gastric emptying—the process by which the stomach empties its contents into the intestines for further digestion and elimination—by as much as 30 percent.


Because our digestive systems have a distinct connection to gravity when we sleep, digestion might be more difficult at this time. In addition, while we sleep, our stomach activity lowers as well.


Aside from these considerations, particular sleeping postures may have an impact on the digestive organs:


  • We may salivate more and swallow less when we are in certain situations. When there is insufficient lubrication saliva, food will move more slowly through the GI tract.

  • Gastric acid may flow back up into the esophagus if gravity is not working in your favor, causing heartburn or acid reflux symptoms to appear. This is not only detrimental to your digestion, but it is also unpleasant and is likely to interfere with your sleep as a result.

  • Other postures may compress the stomach or intestines, causing them to become obstructed and impairing normal digestion. This may, in rare situations, cause nausea and vomiting.


In certain situations, sleeping in less-than-ideal postures might result in morning constipation as well as other unpleasant side effects.


Which positions make these problems worse, and which ones are beneficial for getting a good night's sleep? Following that, we'll go a little more into the answers to these questions.


The left side of your body is the right side of your body.

As a result, our bodies are not symmetrical, with numerous organs concentrated on one side of the body. The side on which you sleep may either squeeze an organ or, conversely, provide it with additional room.

Sleeping on your left side is recommended by traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine to aid in the promotion of good digestion and deep, restful sleep.

In addition to conventional wisdom, there are various physical reasons why resting on your left side may be the most beneficial sleeping posture for digestive health:

  • The stomach is located on the left side of the body. Stomach acid has a harder time rising through the digestive system against gravity when we sleep on our left sides because the stomach is below the esophagus when we sleep on our left sides. Instead, gravity aids in the retention of acid in the stomach, possibly lowering the likelihood of developing heartburn.

  • During the passage of food through your digestive system, it must pass through the ileocecal valve, which connects the small intestine to the large intestine. This valve is positioned on the lower right side of the abdomen, where it connects the ascending colons. It is located on the lower right side of the abdomen. This valve is kept open by sleeping on your left side, which prevents compression and restriction. Furthermore, gravity has the potential to aid in the movement of stuff from the ileocecal valve and ascending colon to the descending colon on the left side of the body, according to theory.


Scientists are actively exploring the influence of sleep posture on digestion in light of these considerations. Example: According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, individuals who slept on their left sides for four hours after a big, fatty meal had less acid reflux and heartburn.


There are various more suggestions for fine-tuning your left-side sleeping posture, including the following:


Prop your head – Increase the elevation of your head while sleeping. Sleeping with your head elevated slightly above your torso can further enhance the effects of gravity, making it easier for saliva to travel down through the digestive system while making it more difficult for stomach acid to travel up and cause heartburn.

Support your knees - Place a cushion between your knees to keep them apart. This will help to maintain your spine in a more healthy position (rather than curving downwards at the pelvis). Because of this, you should feel less pressure on your stomach and digestive organs, which will have more room to perform their functions.


Do you have trouble sleeping on your left side? Following that, we'll take a short look at the advantages and disadvantages of several additional frequent sleeping positions.


Various other sleeping positions, as well as digestion

If another posture is more comfortable than sleeping on your left side, you do not have to retrain yourself to sleep on your left side. In fact, the advantages of obtaining enough sleep may exceed the physical differences between sleeping on one's left side and sleeping on one's right side.

However, if you have recurrent nocturnal indigestion, it's worthwhile to investigate if your present sleep position is a contributing factor.


Back – Sleeping on your back is typically considered to be a good sleeping posture. Because of this, your spine is allowed to maintain its natural position, and your digestive organs are not squeezed by the weight of your other organs (like they are for side sleepers). If you suffer from back discomfort, shoulder pain, or hip pain, sleeping on your back may be the most beneficial alternative for you. The only drawback is that it isn't free. Gravity will not assist you in avoiding acid reflux in a proactive manner. Sleeping with your head slightly supported may, however, be beneficial.

Right side – Sleeping on your right side elevates your stomach over your spine and esophagus, allowing for better digestion. Your stomach will not get constricted as a result of this. However, according to the above-mentioned JAMA Internal Medicine research, you may be somewhat more prone to develop acid reflux than the general population. If you're already a side sleeper, try sleeping on your left side first when you go to bed at night. Then swap back and forth between your two sides to reap the rewards of each side's unique advantages.

Stomach – Slumping on one's stomach is regarded to be one of the least desirable sleep postures. It causes your spine to be in a less-than-natural posture, which may lead to strain in your back, hips, and neck over the long term. Systemic stress and strain may make it more difficult for your body to maintain homeostasis and carry out essential tasks such as digestion and absorption of nutrients. You're also exerting active compression on your stomach with the weight of your abdomen, which is unlikely to provide any relief from the pain.


In the end, bear in mind that the most comfortable sleeping position for digestion is the one that allows you to enjoy a decent night's sleep.


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Note:  This website's content is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please see a certified health practitioner for further information about your specific needs.