How Sleeping in this Position Can Be Hurting Your HEART | Dr. Mandell

You may not have given much thought to your sleeping position, but the way you spend your night can have an impact on your overall health. Each position comes with its own pros and cons that you might want to consider next time you grab some shut-eye.

For example, sleeping face-up with a pillow under your back may help with back pain but may also worsen symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side may be better for sleep apnea, but you may find that it hurts your spine.

In 1997Trusted Source, researchers first noticed that side sleeping caused noticeable changes to the electrical activity of the heart measured with an electrocardiogram (ECG). The researchers found a more noticeable effect when the participants were lying on their left side.

In a more recent 2018 studyTrusted Source, researchers also found that sleeping on the left side was associated with changes in ECG readings in healthy participants. Using a type of imaging technique called a vectorcardiography, they found that left-side sleeping caused the heart to shift and turn. The changes in electrical activity were attributed to this movement of the heart.

2018 studyTrusted Source found that the majority of participants with a heart muscle disease called consecutive dilated cardiomyopathy preferred to sleep on their right side rather than their left.

Also, a 2019 review of studiesTrusted Source found no difference in the health of pregnant people or their unborn babies when sleeping on their left or right sides. Early in your pregnancy, try to get into the habit of sleeping on your side. Lying on your side with your knees bent is likely to be the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses.Sleeping on your right side may be the best option for people with heart failure. Although some people think sleeping on your right side could restrict blood flow back to the heart, there’s not enough evidence to prove that it’s harmful.

2015 study examined the effects of lying face-up in participants with stable chronic heart failure. The researchers found that lying face up was associated with poorer blood oxygenation, respiratory mechanics, and blood movement compared to sitting.

Sleeping on your stomach may alleviate sleep apnea and snoring, but can also cause neck or back pain. Untreated sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of heart failureTrusted Source, and many people deal with both.