Bubbles and rumbles seem to come more frequently as we get older. No matter what we eat, the discomfort sets in, trapping us in a prison of bloat, indigestion, and gas that promises no relief until our food has officially left our system.
Digestive issues are bothersome, and they can even impact your ability to sleep. Waking up with heartburn or stomach cramps can leave you feeling tired and groggy the next morning.
We’ll explain why sleeping on the left side is better than the right side for digestion, give you the signs of digestive issues, and give some tips for supporting healthy digestion while you’re sleeping and while you’re awake.
What Is the Best Sleeping Position for Digestion?
There’s not a lot of factual data that says sleeping on your left side is better than your right, but what we do know is the position of the stomach. Your stomach naturally sits on your left side. When you are sleeping on your left side, digestion is aided by gravity. Food is digested and easily slides into the small intestine.
If you sleep on your right side, your stomach muscles may need to work harder to push digested food down to your intestines. It may also place the stomach in a position to promote heartburn. One study, for instance, linked a right-side sleep position with more occurrences of acid reflux than people who were left-side sleeping.
The Worst Sleeping Position
We’re sorry to spoil your fun, stomach sleepers, but tummy-side down is thought to be one of the worst ways to sleep for digestive reasons as well as total body ergonomics.
Sleeping on your stomach can interfere with the natural curvature of your spine, resulting in lower back pain. It also places the neck in an unnatural position which can cause it to become stiff.
Sleeping on your stomach is also a good way to get heartburn because it allows for a better flow of stomach acid up through your esophagus.
Why Does Sleeping on Your Left Side Help With Heartburn?
If you have a digestive condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you’ve probably heard that sleeping on your left side is better than the right. You might have also been instructed to sleep with a supportive pillow to elevate your upper body.
Again, the reason is due to gravity. The position of your stomach and esophagus makes sleeping on your left side more conducive to keeping stomach acids where they belong (in your stomach) instead of inching upward, causing heartburn. The stomach is shaped like an uneven lima bean, with the largest part resting on the left side of your body.
By sleeping on the left side, you’re allowing the contents of your stomach to take up residency in the largest space, which can also help with digestive system issues.
What Are Signs of Digestive Troubles?
Staying awake at night might be due to issues like sleep apnea or too much caffeine. But if you’re continually being robbed of a good night’s sleep due to discomfort in the form of bloating, gas, or reflux, you could be dealing with poor digestion.
Here are some signs your digestion is in need of a tune-up.
No one likes the uncomfortable feeling of fullness that can come after large meals, but sometimes it seems like nothing can help alleviate the pressure. Bloating may be common occasionally, especially after a fibrous meal, but it shouldn’t be your norm.
Regularity is part of good health. It’s also a measure of your overall health. If you aren’t making regular bowel movements, it means there’s an issue with your digestion. While occasional constipation can happen to anyone, it should be rare.
Continual constipation or stools that are difficult to pass means you might not be getting the essential nutrients in your diet that support digestion and colon health.
If you’ve never experienced heartburn, enjoy being one of the universe’s favorite people. For the rest of us, acid reflux can be a sign of poor gut health and the reason we can’t get to sleep at night. Acid reflux happens when acids from the stomach travel up the airway (or the esophagus), causing pain and burning.
Acid reflux can happen to anyone, but pregnant women and people dealing with obesity may be most prone to getting it.
Some people confuse heartburn with indigestion. Heartburn may be a part of indigestion, but this term is usually reserved for the discomfort you get shortly after a meal. You may describe it as your food “not sitting right” or as a stomach ache.
If you eat something spoiled or if you’re sick, you might experience indigestion. However, experiencing indigestion regularly isn’t normal and can indicate your gut health is suffering.
If you’ve read this and related to one or more of the symptoms, let’s talk about how you can aid digestion and support your body for better health benefits.
How Can You Support Your Digestive Health?
Maybe you’ve never tried to improve your digestive health because you thought your symptoms were normal. Maybe you’ve thought there wasn’t a fix.
Thankfully, you’ve been wrong. You can take several measures to support your digestive health and get relief.
1. Get Your Greens
It starts with getting the insoluble fiber, vitamins, and nutrients your body needs to thrive. The American diet is almost void of fruits and vegetables, which means digestion is harder. Greens like spinach, kale, and cabbage are loaded with essential ingredients and fiber to help support your digestive tract.
2. Stay Hydrated
Adequate water intake is essential for digestion. Water helps your large intestine absorb nutrients from your food that are needed for various functions. It also helps make your stool easy to pass, which can help if you experience constipation.
You can count sources like coffee and tea toward your daily hydration goals. Aim to drink six to eight glasses of water per day, or enough to keep your urine clear.
3. Focus on Whole Foods
The more processed our foods are, the more void they are of nutrients and fiber. Eating whole foods, or foods that are closest to their original form as possible, preserves the vitamins, nutrients, and fiber so our bodies get what they need.
Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain oats, and lean proteins. You can tell if you’re getting whole food by looking at the nutrition label. If it contains preservatives, trans fats, and added sugars, you’re getting cheap, flavor-enhancing substitutes instead of the whole ingredients that will help you digest your food better.
4. Incorporate Lean Proteins and Complex Carbohydrates
Animal protein that comes laced with fat can be hard for your body to digest. Not to mention, it’s not necessarily your best choice for supporting a healthy weight. Instead, look for lean protein sources like chicken and fish, and consider plant-based protein sources like legumes, beans, seitan, quinoa, and chia seeds.
Plant-based sources also contain fiber, which is perfect for helping get your digestion back on track.
Complex carbohydrates are also essential for supporting your digestive system. Whole grains are rich in fiber and won’t cause a dramatic rise and fall in your blood sugar levels.
5. Get Moving
Exercise is important for stimulating your digestion. Your food moves through your digestive tract via muscles that continually contract and push the food along. Exercise can help stimulate more digestive movement, which can result in faster, more effective processing of food through your system.
If you aren’t currently moving a lot, start small. A simple 10-minute walk can help kick-start your goals and help get your digestive tract moving. It also increases blood flow and oxygen to your body, which can also support digestion.
6. Get Enough Quality Sleep
Sleep is essential to your quality of life and also essential for digestion. During sleep, your body repairs damage in the gut and also creates new gut bacteria which aid in digestion. Your sleep quality is related to your digestion because your body can’t make these repairs if you aren’t getting enough deep sleep.
There may be no “best position” for digestion, but choosing the left side as opposed to back sleeping may help you avoid indigestion. Stomach sleepers may be more prone to indigestion and issues like neck pain and shoulder pain. If you need to sleep on your stomach, try creating a neutral position by sleeping with a pillow between your knees and opting for a neck support pillow.
If digestion is an issue, left-side sleepers will have the best luck in getting better sleep and avoiding discomfort.
The Bottom Line
Digestion is important, and it can become unbalanced with age. One way to support digestive issues that keep you up at night is to switch your sleep positions. The best sleep position for avoiding gastrointestinal discomfort is the left side.
To help with digestive issues both day and night, add L’Evate You Vitality Daily Greens to your wellness routine. You’ll get the nutrients, vitamins, and fiber in 9 greens and 30 superfoods, along with the benefits of:
- Antioxidants and compounds that help keep your cells protected during exposure to free radicals, supporting healthy aging.
- M-Charge Complex: A blend of ingredients that help the batteries inside your cells make more energy.
- Probiotics and prebiotics. Essential for restoring and rebalancing your gut health, these ingredients help restore proper digestion.
- Mushroom blend. A proprietary blend of mushrooms that support healthy cholesterol and sodium levels as well as support brain health and cognitive function.
Just one simple scoop per day is enough to support your body and regulate your digestion. So roll over to the left, and don’t forget to grab your greens.