Sleeping on the left side

Originally Published: January 21, 2011
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Hi there.

Is sleeping on our left side in any way harmful for the heart (or anything else)? Some people tell me we shouldn't do it and others tell me it's actually better than sleeping on our right side. What's the truth?

Thanks!

Dear Reader,

When a person "got up on the wrong side of the bed," it usually means that they're grumpy or are having a bad day. The idiom comes from an ancient superstition that stepping on the floor with your left foot first when you are getting out of bed is bad luck. So what about going to bed "on the wrong side?" It turns out sleeping on your left side is no better and no worse than sleeping on any other side. There is one exception to this, though.

For those who are pregnant, sleeping on the left side provides greater blood flow (which means more oxygen and more nutrients) to the placenta and the developing baby. It can also be easier on your back. Sleeping on your left side with your knees bent and a pillow propped between your knees is good. If sleeping in this way causes back pain, try placing a pillow beneath your belly to help support the womb weight. This position is better than sleeping on one's back or one's stomach, especially during a late-term pregnancy.

On a related note, not getting enough sleep can be harmful to your heart. Research has shown that sleep deprivation has been linked to both heart and blood pressure troubles. Aim for whatever position gives you the best sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping or just want more information on getting adequate zzz's, visit Columbia University's A!sleep site to complete a personalized sleep assessment, for additional sleep information, resources, and tools to help you achieve a good night's rest.

Sweet dreams,

Alice