What's The Best Side to Sleep On?
The best side to sleep on depends on some things that are unique to you! Keep reading to learn which side will work best for you to lie on, depending on some common conditions.
Best side to sleep on for vertigo
Positional vertigo is typically triggered when you change positions in bed or when you roll towards one side. If you have vertigo symptoms with moving/rolling over to the right, sleep on your left side. If you have vertigo symptoms with moving/rolling to the left, you should sleep on your right side.
Sleeping on the side without symptoms will decrease the activity of the vertigo. This will help you manage symptoms until you seek medical intervention. It also lets your vestibular system rest and as a result, helps it heal. You can learn more about sleeping with vertigo, here.
Best side to sleep on for acid reflux or GERD
If you have GERD symptoms at night, it is recommended that you position yourself elevated and on your left side. Why the left side? Sleeping facing left is ideal if you have reflux because this position places your stomach and esophagus where it is much more difficult for the stomach acid to travel back up into your esophagus and cause heart burn.
To do this, you will need an incline pillow and leg separator pillow. The combination of these two wedge pillows will keep you sleeping on your side, elevated with your back and hips fully supported, and comfortable.
For more information on how to sleep on your side with acid reflux or GERD, click here.
Best side to sleep on when pregnant
For pregnant moms, the best side to sleep on is also the left side. This is so that the growing baby does not push against the vena cava. The vena cava brings blood flow back to the heart, and you don't want it compressed! Sleeping on the left also decreases pressure on the liver and other organs so that sleeping is more comfortable.
Sleeping on the left side is the ideal position for a pregnant woman because it maximizes support for the baby and is the best position for circulation for the mother. Pregnant moms will benefit from some form of side sleeping support whether that be low back and hip support or support to sleep slightly inclined due to acid reflux.
For more information on the best way to sleep while pregnant, click here.
Best side to sleep on with hip or back pain
For back or hip pain, the best side to sleep on is the side that has the least pain. For example, if your right hip is hurting, you should be position yourself on your left side, and vice versa. The most important part of sleeping with back or hip pain is making sure your are supporting your body properly, which we will cover next.
The correct sleep posture for side sleepers
There are two ways to support your body while side sleeping. Regardless of which side you are on, the first decision you need to make is: should I be positioned with my torso flat or elevated? If you have breathing difficulties, sinus issues, migraines in the morning, sleep apnea, snoring, or acid reflux, you would benefit from sleeping elevated while on your side.
How to position yourself elevated and on your side
Positioning yourself at an incline while lying on your side is done with a contoured incline pillow and a leg separator pillow. A contoured incline pillow supports the contours of the side of your body to make sure you have maximal back support.
A leg separator pillow positions your hips in a way that they are completely relaxed. It also makes sure your muscles are not pulling on your spine in an unhealthy way. The combination of these two pillows gives you the full body support you need to side sleep on an incline, all night long, comfortably.
How to sleep flat and on your side
If you do not have any of the conditions mentioned previously, the best way for you to sleep on your side would be to sleep flat, with your back and hips supported. Doing this is simple. First, use a side sleeper wedge to fill in the curve of your waist. This keeps your spine straight at night and lets your low back relax and rejuvenate while you sleep.
Second, use a supportive leg separator pillow that supports you leg from your pubic bone to past your feet and holds your top leg as close to parallel to the bed as possible. Most leg separator pillows are not supportive enough to hold your leg in correct sleep posture, so make sure you find one that has maximum support, like the one we carry at Wedge Pillow Solutions.
Hopefully you had a chance to learn what the best side to sleep on is for you, specifically! No matter which one you choose, support your body correctly, and you will be well on your way to a good night's sleep.
-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy