When it comes to sleeping positions, each of us chooses the one that suits him best: on the stomach, back or on one side, the key is to find a comfortable position and enjoy a good night’s sleep. Yet health experts recommend to avoid some of these positions because of their harmful effect on health.
How sleeping position can affect your health?
This advice is not necessarily applicable since most of the time we are not aware of our sleeping position, but doctors advise pregnant women to avoid sleeping on the right side and here’s why (among other reasons):
- Decreased blood flow to the uterus: sleeping on the right side poses the weight of the uterus on the vena cava that is on the right side of the spine. This position compresses the vena cava and impedes the flow of blood.
- Because of a few pounds more, sleeping on the right side for a prolonged period can compress the liver and cause damage.
- The most horrifying consequence is the increased risk of stillbirth. This risk is even higher in the last 3 months of pregnancy. Indeed, a study published in the Journal of Medicine showed that the risk of stillbirth would increase from 1.96 /1000 in women who sleep on the left until the day before delivery to 3.93/1000 for those who sleep on the back or the right side.
For your health:
Sleeping on the right side is not beneficial for the health of pregnant women, but for all of us too. Here are the different health problems that can cause this position:
Sleeping on the right side is the main cause of the digestive problems, actually the stomach and pancreas find themselves in a position that is not natural and are forced to empty their contents prematurely, which results in acid reflux and heartburn.
If you are used to sleep on your right (or left) side, you’ll probably wake up each morning with a numb arm. This is because most of your weight is pressing your arms and that limits the blood flow. This disorder is commonly called “rubber arm”, you exert pressure on your nerves, which causes tingling and prickling in the arm. This discomfort may wake you in the middle of the night and prevent you from falling asleep again. If it happens often, the numbness can cause insomnia – a fairly recurrent sleep disorder.
Precancerous condition (lesions that can develop into cancer)
As explained a little earlier, sleeping on the right side promotes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which consists of the recovery of part of the stomach contents into the esophagus. Since it is not designed to withstand the acidity, frequent reflux can cause inflammation or damage the wall that may develop into cancer.
However, be aware that sleeping on the right side is not harmful to 100% of population and also has its share of benefits: it reduces blood pressure and helps clear the heart of the weight of other organs, including the lung, thus promoting a good blood flow and regulating heart rate.
So to sleep better, simply become informed and choose the position that is most suitable for your condition.