When it comes to winding down for the night and going to bed, you’ve probably given some thought over the years to what your favorite pillows are or the type of mattress that keeps your back supported. But what about the benefits or drawbacks of your sleep position? In fact, did you know your sleep position might actually affect your heart health?
If you want to keep your heart strong, studies show that sleeping on your right side may benefit your cardiovascular system more than falling asleep on your left. Scientists think this is because the heart is situated more on the left side of your chest cavity, so when you sleep on your left side, you’re applying physical pressure to the muscle group. Given that we all (theoretically) spend one-third of our lives asleep, that’s a lot of potential extra strain.
Going deeper, previous studies showed participants who consistently slept on their left sides saw noticeable changes to the electrical activity in their hearts. People who spent their night asleep on their right side, however, didn’t exhibit any altered cardiovascular electrical activity. The heart uses electrical pulses to pump blood through the body, so certain shifts in that current can be potentially detrimental to that entire system. That said, this area of study is still in its early stages, so researchers are still parsing together how much these differences — and therefore sleep position in general — matter for your overall heart function.
When it comes to your long-term heart health, scientists all agree that the most important thing you can do sleep-wise is get around seven to nine hours out shut-eye every night. A consistent lack of quality sleep has long been linked to a number of heart-related problems. So above all else, focus on making sure you’re getting enough sleep every night and that it’s good sleep that helps you feel refreshed every morning. If you need a few tips for creating the best nighttime environment possible, a few of these can help you out!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First For Women.