Did you know that sleep on your side could save your health? Yup, it’s true. While it may not seem like a big deal, the side you sleep on, and how much sleep you get, can impact how your whole body works.
And guess what else? There’s a direct connection between sleep and vein health. Because, when you have varicose veins, studies show that symptoms such as leg cramps and itchiness are worst at night, making it harder for you to get enough rest. Want to get back on track with your sleep and learn your best positioning? From your vein health to your heart function and so much more, we’re guessing this post will get you switching up your sleep position.
Why You Should Sleep on Your Side
Left or right, sleeping on your side is better for your body. First, it can help you avoid issues with heartburn or acid reflux since this limits the amount of stomach acid exposed to your esophagus. Since our stomachs are on the left side, sleeping on your left may be best, as sleeping on the right side can aggravate heartburn symptoms.
Aid in Digestion
It can also improve your digestion since studies show that side sleeping helps food move seamlessly from your small to large intestine and from there to your colon. Now, if you sleep on your left side, you get an added boost: this position keeps your stomach (which lies on the left side of your body) and pancreas in an ideal position for producing the enzymes that encourage digestion.
During the night, as you sleep on your left side, waste will more easily move into your descending colon, which will be full of waste and ready to be eliminated in the morning.
Improved Breathing During Sleep
Guess what else? Side sleeping can improve your nighttime breathing patterns, which means you can say goodbye to snoring (or at least reduce this annoying habit). And, if you suffer from chronic back pain, side sleeping can help, as it’s a good way to relieve pressure on your spine. This can translate to reduced aches and pains the next morning.
Drain Lymphatic Fluid
Sleeping on your side can also help drain your body’s lymph fluid, meaning your risk of swelling (lymphedema) will also go down. This is especially true if you sleep on your left side since that’s your dominant lymphatic side.
Three-quarters of your body’s lymphatic fluid drains into your thoracic duct, which then drains into the left side of your heart, the left internal jugular vein, and the left subclavian vein.
And left-side sleeping won’t just boost drainage: it can also improve your lymph nodes’ performance, strengthening your immune system and helping you fight infections.
Plus, improved lymph drainage can help your heart. Better draining near your heart means the organ doesn’t have to work as hard, so it’s under less pressure. Side sleeping is also very important for boosting your circulation.
Improved Circulation & Vascular Health
As we mentioned, sleeping on your side can improve your circulation. Healthy circulation prevents blood from pooling in your veins, descreasing your risk for spider veins.
But that’s not all: when you sleep on your left side, you take pressure off your body’s largest vein, the Vena Cava, located on the right side of your body. This vein, composed of two smaller iliac veins, has a big job. It takes oxygen-poor blood from your legs, feet, and stomach back to your heart, and if it can’t do that job, you will certainly see blood building up in your lower extremities.
This can cause your veins to swell and stretch, becoming visible beneath your skin, possibly resulting in the growth of varicose veins, a serious symptom of vein disease.
As an additional note, those who are pregnant should always sleep on their left side, not the right. Not only will this boost blood flow to your heart and your fetus, but it will also keep your uterus from pressing on your liver, something that’s very important to the functioning of your internal organs.
Ways to Change Your Sleep Position
If you’re already used to sleeping a certain way, training your body to rest in a new position may take time.
Some tips for creating new sleep position habits include:
- Sew a tennis ball to the back of your shirt to cause discomfort sufficient to cause you to turn on your side
- Buy yourself a firm pillow to keep your spine and neck in a neutral position while you sleep
- Place a pillow next to you as you sleep on your side to create a barrier
- Consider a new mattress or mattress topper if your current mattress is too firm for sleeping on your side
We can Diagnose Your Vein Health
Want to take more steps to protect your vein health? Our Houston and Dallas area vein specialists[RB1] are here to help! Schedule a diagnostic ultrasound with one of our skilled technicians. We can identify any potential problems to help keep your veins working just the way they should!