According to an MD

IIf you’re on a mission to improve your digestion, let me tell you a little secret: It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat it that matters. For example, eating while standing up and sitting down may play a role in how the stomach feels after a meal. Countless other lifestyle factors also influence this problem. (If you’ve ever faced periods of intense stress, I’m sure you already know that the gut-brain connection is very real.)

On the topic of digestion after dark, have you ever wondered if – and how – your sleeping position affects digestion? Similar. To find answers, we reached out to Ali Rezaie, MD, a gastroenterologist at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, author of Microbiome connection and co-founder of The Good LFE.

How does your sleeping position affect digestion?

We already know that lying down after eating and eating a large meal very close to bedtime can affect sleep. and digestion for some people. Furthermore, since the entire intestinal transit time (i.e. the time from when you eat food to when it leaves your body) can take up to 73 hours or longer, it is clear that the digestive system your still works before, during and after. you will close your eyes. And if you struggle with some digestive issues, gut health experts say you should take a closer look at your sleeping position to see if it can help or worsen symptoms. how.

“First, many studies have shown that sleeping on the right side increases episodes of acid reflux and heartburn compared to sleeping on the left side,” says Dr. Rezaie. “This is thought to be due to the position of the stomach, which rests on the distal part of the esophagus when sleeping on the right side.” Additionally, he notes that your prone position during sleep can also affect digestive function, stating that “elevating the head of the bed is associated with less reflux.”

Is sleeping on the left side always better to aid digestion?

With Dr. Rezaie’s insights, you’re keeping in mind to switch your sleeping position tonight — but he’s careful to mention that the change won’t necessarily be beneficial. everybody all aspects. “If you don’t have reflux, there’s no benefit in forcing you to sleep on your left side,” says Dr. Rezaie. On top of that, he even notes that a small study of healthy volunteers showed that the right side position turned out to be better for gastric emptying, although more research is needed to support this. support this conclusion accurately.

However, if you happen to be struggling with acid reflux (GERD), you’ll want to take his advice. “We recommend that GERD patients sleep on their left side and raise the head of the bed an inch or two higher, as doing so can help reduce the number of acid reflux episodes and may also ease discomfort,” says Dr. Rezaie. . .

Another word for the wise: Before you start elevating your knees, Dr. Rezaie says this is not the best course of action. “Using the usual pillows is Not The same goes for raising the head of the bed, because the chest doesn’t rise with that strategy,” he explains. He goes on to say that it can actually put excess pressure on the cervical spine. Instead, your best bet in this case is to purchase a wedge pillow specifically designed to aid GERD.

Are there certain sleeping positions that are generally not good for digestion?

So far, we’ve covered sleeping on your left and right sides—but how your digestion works if you lie on your stomach or back, or switch from one position to another. other? “Although there is not much evidence, anecdotally, sleeping on your stomach [facing downward on your stomach] Dr. Rezaie said. For the average person, this makes sense because it can put excess pressure on your stomach — and anyone who needs to unbutton their jeans after a meal knows that body spasms can be difficult. bear, at least.

For another way to improve your digestive function when you choose the sleeping position? Above all, a sufficient ZZZ clock is key. “The best thing for your digestion is getting enough sleep, whether lying on your side or on your back,” says Dr. Rezaie.

Key point

While people with acid reflux are likely to be relieved by paying attention to sleeping on their left side and elevating their head with a wedge pillow, others can – pun intended – rest assured that, in most cases, In any case, their preferred sleeping position won’t cause digestive upset. With that said, you can adopt other habits to keep your digestive tract happy and healthy throughout the night.

For starters, Dr. Rezaie recommends avoiding eating a heavy meal three to four hours before weeding to keep rapid bowel movements under control. (A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that this higher portion of the window significantly reduced symptoms in GERD patients.) Similarly, he advises against eating a meal in the middle of the night. “These movements of the small intestine are integral to our bowel function and the balance of the gut microbiome, although it does not appear to be the preferred sleeping position,” says Dr. Rezaie. for these waves”. However, he concludes, fasting late at night is “particularly important for people with bloating, IBS or SIBO.”

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