Best sleeping positions to aid digestion and reduce heartburn

Whether due to fast-paced lifestyles or improper diet, digestive issues like bloating, acidity, heartburn and constipation have become quite common.

While improvements and adjustments to our daily habits, including drinking more water, exercising regularly and adding more fibre to our meals can help us overcome some of our digestive troubles, our sleep is just as important in aiding our gut health.

According to experts, the position we sleep in at night can have an impact on our digestion. In particular, there is one position that helps reduce instances of heartburn.

What sleep position helps digestion?

According to internal medicine expert Dr Manira Dhasmana, sleeping on your left side has more benefits for your digestive system.

She explained: “Left-side sleeping easily transfers our digested food from our small intestine to the large intestine. It also prevents disorders like gastro-oesophageal reflux disease that causes belching and heartburn.”

Gastroenterology expert Dr Mahesh Gupta added: “The stomach is on the left side of the body, below the oesophagus. When we sleep on our left side, it becomes difficult for stomach acid to rise up the digestive tract against gravity, which in turn keeps acid in the stomach, potentially lowering the risk of heartburn and symptoms of indigestion.”

Which sleep positions are bad for digestion?

While sleeping on our left side is good for digestion, sleeping on our right side, back or stomach can be unhealthy for us.

Experts explain that sleeping on our right side after eating leads to heartburn and indigestion, while the practice of sleeping our backs “causes acid to enter the throat again, giving a burning sensation and discomfort throughout the night.”

Sleeping on our stomachs is also thought to increase episodes of acid reflux especially in people with issues like Gastroesophegeal reflux disease (GERD).

Other sleep habits to avoid for better digestion
Besides your sleep position, you also need to take note of other sleep habits that might be affecting your digestion.

This includes not sleeping right after eating, with experts advising that we leave a gap of at least two hours between our dinner and sleep to avoid reflux.

The meals before we go to bed for the night should also be smaller and lighter. For those suffering from GERD, elevated head end of the bed, a walk after dinner are also helpful.