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Sleeping on your left side could hurt your heart

Sleeping on your left side could hurt your heart

Some nights you toss and turn to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. On others, you may be so exhausted that you barely touch the sheets before you get cold. But no matter what happens at the end of each day, we usually focus so much on drifting that we pay very little attention to how we lie down when we go to bed. And while it might seem like the worst that can happen to falling asleep the wrong way is neck or spine pain, studies have shown that sleeping in a specific position could actually hurt your heart. Read on to see how you should set up when you nap.

RELATED: If You’re Doing This While You Sleep, Tell Your Doctor, Study Says.

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While research on the subject is still lacking, some scientists have explored how sleep in different positions could potentially affect your heart, reports Healthline. One such study conducted in 1997 tested 40 subjects – 18 of whom had been diagnosed with heart disease and 22 were considered healthy – using an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor the electrical activity of the heart while they alternated between sleeping on their backs and on their sides. The results showed that participants sleeping on their left side saw the most significant changes in their resting ECG scores.

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A separate study conducted in 2018 also used ECG to monitor heart data from 9 subjects. Similar to the 1997 study, the results also revealed that participants sleep on the left side had significant changes in the electrical activity of their heart. But in this study, an imaging technique known as vectorcardiography also showed that the heart rotated and moved in this position, which the researchers believe could explain the recorded changes.

By comparison, almost no ECG changes were recorded while participants slept on their right side, Healthline reports. Imaging showed that a thin layer of tissue between the lungs, known as the mediastinum, held the heart securely in place during sleep.

However, both studies quickly concluded that more research would be needed on how sleeping position might affect overall cardiac activity. And while some patients who have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure have reported difficulty breathing or discomfort when sleeping on their left side, there is no conclusive evidence that sleeping on the left side could put you at risk. increased heart disease if you don’t. ‘t already a condition.

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woman in blue pajamas sleeping on king size bed.
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On the other hand, some experts claim that sleep on the left side is not harmful but can actually help its function. According to W. Christopher WinterMD, medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center in Charlottesville, Va., it has to do with blood circulation.

Since blood enters the heart through the right atrium on the right side of the body, sleeping on the right side can put pressure on the major blood vessels that supply the organ. However, “sleeping on your left side with your right side not crushed is believed to potentially increase blood flow to your heart,” Winter told CNN in a 2016 interview.

Top view of a doctor taking a sick patient's heartbeat.  A hospitalized man is examined by a female doctor.
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Of course, advice on sleeping positions is different for those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease. And while all recommendations should come from your doctor in these cases, some doctors support the idea that avoiding their left side night could be beneficial.

“Those who have had heart failure or other heart problems should sleep on their right side whenever possible. Sleeping on the right side allows the heart to rest in place with the help of the mediastinum, thus preventing disruption electrical current from your heart,” Tri-City Cardiology in Mesa, Arizona wrote, echoing the findings of previous studies. “It will help avoid breathing problems and discomfort while sleeping.”

However, they warn that rolling over onto your back can create another problem, saying the position “can make sleep apnea worse and people with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from heart disease”. Instead of creating back pain by lying on your stomach, experts recommend sleeping on your back and elevating your head with pillows, which makes breathing easier and reduces pressure on your heart.

RELATED: If You Notice This While Lying On Your Back, Get Your Heart Checked.