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Sleeping: Which side is advisable, Left or Right?

Sleep is a vital, often neglected, component of every person’s overall health and well-being. Sleep is important because it enables the body to be fit and ready for another day. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.

However, in a Facebook post, a user, Moshdoo has urged people to never sleep on their right side. The post which is in picture form has a caption that says “A chiropractor urges people never to sleep on your right side.” The picture further shows two animated bodies, with one sleeping on the right side and the other sleeping on the left side.  

Source: Facebook

Even though the user did not give reasons for why sleeping on one’s right side is inappropriate, DUBAWA  decided to find out if sleeping on your right or left side has any negative implications on the body and on one’s health as a whole. 

DUBAWA  conducted a reverse image search to find out if the image has been used anywhere. We found out that the picture has been used in various instances. Here, it is used with a description that says “when we sleep on the left side, the stomach and its gastric juices remain lower than its esophagus, reducing heartburn and digestive upsets.” It has been used here and here too with the same descriptions.  

DUBAWA  reached out to a Medical doctor at the Spine Health and Wellness Centre, Kafui Kwaku Bagidah, to find out the health implications of side sleeping. According to him, it is not scientifically proven that one should not sleep on the right side. He said it can’t be generalized and that one may sleep on any particular side. However, it may be recommended by a doctor to sleep on a particular side in the case of underlying conditions.  

“There is this notion that is going around that depending on where you sleep you can put pressure on certain vital organs in the body, especially your heart because it is oriented at your left side. And so, if you mostly sleep on your left side, you end up putting a lot of pressure on that area, and sometimes contained within the stomach could move slightly into a different area due to the position you are sleeping in. But the fact is, it may happen for some people due to some conditions they are in, but it is not a general rule for everybody. You can’t generalize it,” Bagidah said. 

“The problem is that if you already have any precondition  maybe you are having an acid reflux syndrome whereby when you lie down you have content in the gastric region moving into the neck area causing irritations and heartburns then in such instances you have to start adhering to a doctor’s advice. But for a healthy person who does not have any of these conditions, it is not a must. Our work is scientific and evidence-based and most of these claims are anecdotal which means they are based on personal accounts rather than facts or research,” he added. 

In our research, DUBAWA  again found  a piece from a physician, Dr. Keith W. Roach, of the Weill Cornell Medicine, who appeared to have given some form of education on side sleeping. This is sighted in a question-and-answer section on the Associated Press website.  

According to him,

“Most people can sleep in whatever position they find comfortable without any problem. However, there are a few instances in which sleeping on the left side may potentially cause problems. One is in people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea, in which several studies have shown that sleeping on the left side leads to slightly more breathing problems than sleeping on the right. However, in people who are treated, that should not be a problem.

“Pregnant women should sleep on the side. Although women have often been recommended to sleep on their left side, either side is fine for the baby and left-sided sleeping may reduce swelling in the feet. However, my opinion is that the benefit is so small that comfort and quality of sleep are more important.”

Side sleeping involves sleeping on the left or right side. A 2017 study revealed we spend more than half of our time in bed in a side or fetal position. According to  Rachel Salas,  an Associate Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, for young and healthy people, sleep position is less important, but as you get older and have more medical issues, sleep position can become positive or negative. 

A study by the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at 10 people over 2 days after eating a high-fat meal on both days. On the first day, participants rested on their right side while on the second, they switched to the left side. Researchers found that the right side was associated with increased heartburn and acid reflux. This clearly shows that sleeping on your right after taking a high-fat meal is not advisable because it can lead to heartburn and other related problems.

Also, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that people with Congestive Heart Failure CHF consistently reported discomfort when they slept on their left sides. They consciously chose their right sides over the left to reduce their discomfort. More importantly, those who slept on their right side had improved heart test results at the end of the study.

So either left or right, sleeping on either side has its positives and negatives. So, it can’t be concluded that one should never sleep on their right side.  


In conclusion, sleeping on either left or right has its advantages and disadvantages. Health officials may advise some people to sleep on a particular side on account of their condition. However, for a healthy person, it is not a must. 

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