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Why You Should Sleep On Your Left Side If You Have Stomach Problems

Why You Should Sleep On Your Left Side If You Have Stomach Problems

Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be difficult and painful to live with — and not just during the day or after meals. One study showed that 1 in 4 adults with GERD suffer from this at night. The pain and discomfort this condition causes can interrupt sleep — and up to 55% of GERD patients suffer from sleep disturbances related to GERD or heartburn pain. This can have a serious and negative impact on quality of life.

The good news is that, apart from medications, there are simple lifestyle changes that can have a big impact on this condition.

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Sleeping On The Left Side

It might come as a surprise, but sleeping on the left side is one simple way to cut down on the problem of nighttime GERD pain. No one is exactly sure why, but there are many theories:

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  • One theory is because the stomach is situated on the left side of the body and when you sleep at this time, gravity itself makes it less likely that the contents of the stomach will back up into the esophagus, causing painful reflux.
  • Other studies have shown that sleeping on the left side can increase the pressure on the sphincter (opening) between the stomach and esophagus and make reflux less likely.
  • Another clinical review of natural remedies for GERD found that many studies have shown that lying on the right side can increase the length of the GERD attack as well as the amount of acid that refluxes into the esophagus, whereas lying on the left side can reduce these problems. Left-lying positions are thought to prevent relaxation of the sphincter and keep the sphincter above the level of gastric acid.

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    Other Tips For Natural GERD Control

    It is important to remember, however, that just sleeping on the left side is not enough to help manage this disease — there are other ways to control it naturally, including:

    • Eating healthy and avoiding junk foods.
    • Elevating the head of the bed at least 30 degrees to reduce the chance of reflux.
    • Waiting at least an hour between finishing a meal and going to bed.
    • Avoiding foods and beverages that can irritate the stomach, such as chocolate, alcohol, and spicy or fatty foods.

    If GERD or reflux is a problem, it is important to talk to your doctor about this, as ongoing issues with it can permanently damage the esophagus. Sometimes, even with natural control tips like the ones mentioned above, prescription or over-the-counter medications are needed as well.

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    Brian Wu

    Health Writer, Author

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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