Healthy sleeping positions to avoid backache and heartburn

Healthy sleeping positions to avoid backache and heartburn

The right sleeping position can help you with everything from back pain to heartburn.

Written by Tania Tarafdar |Updated : April 13, 2016 3:44 PM IST

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When you are tired after a long day you just want to crash on your bed. While a good night s sleep is essential for your health, the way you sleep can affect your body negatively. Pain management specialist, Dr. Anil Kulkarni tells you the best and worst positions to sleep.

The right sleeping position

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Sleeping on your left: When you lie down on your sides, you do not put much stress on your back. Lying down on the left side helps reduce heartburn, so sleeping in this position is a total win-win. However, sleeping on the right worsens heartburn so it is recommended that you sleep on the left. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology researchers fed healthy adults high-fat meals on different days and after their meals the subjects spent four hours sleeping on one side. The researchers concluded that the acid reflux was higher in those who lay on their right side [1]. Other studies like the study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed similar results [2].

Also, sleep on the left side if you are pregnant to allow optimal blood flow. Just ensure that you place a pillow below your head so that your head does not drop and affect your posture.

Sleeping on your back: If you are into the habit of sleeping on your back, you might not want to change that as when you sleep in this position, your body weight is well balanced and thus you are less likely to suffer from back and neck pain. Just keep a pillow under your knees to make sure your back is aligned. However, if you snore, you may want to sleep on your sides as sleeping on the back can make snoring worse.

Wrong sleeping position

Sleeping on your stomach: Falling asleep on the stomach may feel superb, but the posture can put your back and neck at risk. Sleeping in this position can keep your head turned all night, impacting the alignment of your spine leading to neck and back pain. Here is what your sleeping position tells about you and your love life.

So when you go to bed tonight, take a minute to assess your sleeping position. If you are not comfortable with lying on the sides or your back, place a pillow between your knees if you sleep on the side or below your knees if you sleep on your back for that added comfort. If you are pregnant, follow tips to sleep well during pregnancy.


[1] Katz LC, Just R, Castell DO. Body position affects recumbent postprandial reflux. J Clin Gastroenterol. 1994 Jun;18(4):280-3. PubMed PMID: 8071510.

[2] van Herwaarden MA, Katzka DA, Smout AJ, Samsom M, Gideon M, Castell DO. Effect of different recumbent positions on postprandial gastroesophageal reflux in normal subjects. Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Oct;95(10):2731-6. PubMed PMID: 11051341.

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