The surprising impact your sleep position has on gut health

gut health and sleep

Did you know, that 40% of the world’s population experience chronic gastrointestinal problems like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and your sleep can impact it further? 

A recent study revealed that gut bacteria can directly influence sleep quality and even increase the risk of insomnia. With this in mind, the sleep experts at Happy Beds have delved into how sleeping on your left side can improve your gut health. 

Three gut health benefits to WHY you should sleep on your left 

  1. Sleeping on your left side could help you go to the bathroom

Constipation can and does affect sleep. Men who get less sleep than recommended (around five to six hours) are more at risk of constipation. However, women who get too much sleep (around nine hours a night) are more likely to experience constipation, so it’s clear to see the link between that and sleep.

The stomach is positioned on our left side, which suggests that sleeping on that side could help us digest food more effectively as opposed to back or front sleeping, which could lead to obstructions.

As we sleep on our left side, the waste can travel freely through the colon, ending in the descending colon. As this journey could be improved with left-side sleeping, bathroom trips in the morning could be improved, especially for those who suffer from chronic constipation.

  1. Bloating could be improved on your side

If you do experience bloating, sleeping on your side could be improved as gravity helps waste travel through to your colon, which can alleviate bloating symptoms, leading to more improved sleep.

  1. Do you suffer from acid reflux at night? Turn to your left

Around 20% of the UK’s population (and the same for the US) – or 13.2 million people – experience problems with severe acid reflux.

Issues with acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can significantly impact sleep, with studies showing how it is associated with sleep disturbances. A separate study found that a staggering 75% of people who suffered from heartburn and other similar symptoms had a negative sleep quality, with a further 40% saying it affected their ability to function the next day.

However, it has been reported that reflux episodes are greater when sleeping on your right side compared to your left, suggesting the left side is the correct way to turn. It’s thought this is because this side helps keep the gastric juices lower and less able to travel to your oesophagus.

Sleep experts at Happy Beds recommend avoiding sleeping on your back if you suffer from acid reflux, as this allows the acid to flow back to your oesophagus unimpeded, likely resulting in a sleepless night.

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