Best sleeping positions for heart health

Not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your heart

Sleep is not a luxury. It's critical for good health, especially heart health.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sleep is not a luxury. It’s critical for good health, especially heart health.

Sleep helps your body repair itself and helps your brain organize its thoughts. But not everyone is getting enough of it.

In fact, 50 million Americans suffer from more than 80 different sleep disorders. It’s not about just waking up groggy. There’s growing evidence that not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your heart and your brain.

Five? Seven? Nine? How much sleep do you get?

One in three US adults gets less than the recommended seven to nine hours of ZZZ’s a night.

“From a cardiovascular standpoint, that’s like saying he eats a lot of saturated fat or eats a lot of French fries,” Atul Malhotra, chief of pulmonary critical care and sleep at UC San Diego said.

A recent study out of Harvard finds people in midlife who have a combination of sleep problems, like waking up in the early hours, or sleeping less than six hours a night, may nearly triple their risk of heart disease. So, is one sleeping position healthier than another?

The general consensus among sleep experts says sleeping on your back may be best. It positions your weight evenly and minimizes neck and back pain.

If you have back or neck pain, don’t sleep in the fetal position. It can compromise circulation and breathing. And which side is best to sleep on?

There are pros and cons. If you sleep on your left side all night, you can put strain on your liver and lungs. If you sleep on your right side all night, it can exacerbate heartburn.

Bottom line, there’s no perfect position. The important thing is you need to find one that helps you get the ZZZ’s your body needs.

Sleep is also important for our brains. Harvard researchers found it helps consolidate memories we want to preserve, transferring them from short term to long term memories.

Much of this consolidation of memories occurs during state two of sleep, which is a light sleep phase that happens in the hours just before waking up.