Although most of us recognize that getting enough sleep is very important to the overall health of the body, there is also the matter of how we sleep as well. The position of the body in rest plays a role not only in the quality of sleep that is achieved, but also in terms of encouraging proper body functioning as well.
The reason is fairly simple, even when you lay down on a very soft mattress you are putting pressure on the body. While some positions such as sleeping on your stomach may have detrimental effects, other positions may produce more positive effects on the body.
Sleeping on your Left Side
Although the right and left side of the body may seem nearly identical on the outside, the internal structure of the body shows a considerable difference in terms of how it operates. By sleeping on the left side of the body, there are advantages to be gained which can deliver a number of positive benefits.
What follows are just some of the reasons why sleeping on the left side of your body can deliver a number of benefits that will help your body maintain its energy levels, ease stress and support a number of functions.
Better Cardiovascular Function
There are actually a number of reasons why heart function improves when you sleep on your left side. First, the lymph drainage is assisted by gravity and it will actually reduce the work the heart must do as you sleep. Next, since the aorta is the largest artery and is positioned on the left side, the heart is basically pumping your blood downhill which is assisted by gravity that further eases the workload.
Plus, the weight of the intestines hangs away from the inferior vena cava which is the veins that bring the blood back to the heart. So overall, sleeping on your left side improves your overall heart function by reducing the pressure on the circulatory system.
The Lymph System
The lymphatic system of the body is most dominant on the left side where the majority of fluid drains down the thoracic duct. While this process is occurring, the fluid in the lymph nodes contains a number of proteins as well as metabolites, glucose and items of waste that is purified in the lymph system before being drained into the left side of the heart itself.
By sleeping on your left side, you help facilitate the draining process by allowing gravity to do part of the work. On the other hand, sleeping on your right side actually makes the lymph system work harder to properly drain away all the fluid. For those who experience issues with their lymphatic system, sleeping on the left side will at least help in properly draining away the excess fluids.
Because of the positioning of the small intestines, the ileocecal valve or ICV is on the right side of the body which leads to the large intestinal tract. In turn, the large intestines run from the right side of your torso across the stomach and lead into the colon which collects the waste materials.
By sleeping on your left side, the food particles in your body which turn into waste are encouraged by gravity to move through both intestinal tracts from the small intestines to the large and from the large intestines into the colon. The more you sleep on your left side, the more the movement of the waste can facilitate which means that by the morning you should be able to better evacuate your bowels depending naturally on when you had your last meal.
Better Spleen Function: An important part of the lymphatic system is the spleen which is also on the left side of your body as well. The spleen is very similar to a large lymph node, but it also filters the blood as well. When you sleep on the left side of your body, gravity helps the drainage to the spleen which makes its functioning much easier.
This is important because the lymph system drains all the cells in the body and does not use the heart, but instead body movement and muscular function to do its job. By assisting the spleen with the use of gravity by sleeping on your left side, you make it easier for your body to drain the lymph system.
How lying on your Left Side benefits you after eating a Big Meal
In addition to sleeping on your left side, resting on your left side for 10 minutes after eating a meal can also help the body properly digest the food you just consumed. This is because lying on your left side takes the pressure off of your stomach and pancreas which improves their overall function. The food is actually encouraged by gravity to move through the stomach and the enzymes from the pancreas are released when needed and not all at once.
Lying on your right side actually inhibits the proper function of your stomach and pancreas to a certain extent which can cause your stomach to empty its contents before its ready. Plus, your liver and gall bladder function better when you lie on your left side as well because they can secrete enzymes to help neutralize the acids that have formed in your stomach. This means fewer cases of too much acid being produced which can lead to other issues as well.
Because lying on the left side actually encourages the body to digest the food more properly and will less effort, you will not feel as drained of energy which often happens in the middle of the day. A short rest on your left side may actually save your strength and keep you more alert and energetic during the afternoon hours.
The Overall Benefits of Sleeping on Your Left Side
While the overall results may seem subtle at first, the benefits of sleeping on your left side will pay off over time as the stress on your body at night is reduced. Anytime you can reduce stress and increase body function naturally pays dividends to the overall health of your body.
Plus, to lie on your left side after a meal for about 10 minutes can help by providing more energy and better overall digestion which can help you get through the day. This little trick which was used by the Romans thousands of years ago still offers benefits today.
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