What Side to Lay on When Your Stomach Hurts – Better Sleep Council


Anyone with stomach irritation or digestive issues knows how drastically it can disrupt your life. You spend all your time searching for the perfect position to soothe your stomach and ease the pain. That’s why knowing what side to lay on for nausea and digestive discomfort can mean the difference between waking up wincing and actually getting a restful night of sleep.

Keep reading to learn how different sleeping positions can affect your gut, including what side to lay on when your stomach hurts and what body positioning is best for quality sleep and restful relaxation.

Sleep and digestion are closely linked. Not only is adequate, restful sleep crucial for the digestive process, but the digestion, absorption, and assimilation of our food requires a significant amount of energy. Fortunately, quality, restful sleep provides the necessary time and energy for the digestive organs to rest and repair. 

That also means that a lack of sleep can increase your susceptibility to stress, which can drastically impact digestive symptoms. That’s why maintaining a regular sleep schedule and ensuring adequate sleep is crucial for supporting the digestive process and helping to prevent digestive issues.

Sleep Positions & Your Gut

Do you spend your nights tossing and turning as you try to settle into what side to lay on when your stomach hurts?

Maybe it’s because of something you ate or due to a pestering cramp that won’t go away. Either way, determining which side you’ll be most comfortable laying on will depend on your unique needs. Fortunately, a strategically placed pillow or two and a quality and supportive mattress can make all the difference. 

Left to Rest

In Ayurvedic medicine, the left and right sides of the body are very different and responsible for different functions. Since the stomach is on the left side of the body, according to Ayurvedic practices, it is recommended to sleep on your left side when your stomach hurts.

While there is no supporting clinical evidence, experts suggest that gravity aids digestion by helping the waste travel out of the small intestine and into the large intestine more effectively. 

Additionally, sleeping on your left side is good for the heart! Lying on the left side makes it easier for the heart to pump blood, flowing naturally down into the aorta. It also helps the muscles between the stomach and esophagus contract, which better controls the acid reflux process

Right on Target

Sleeping on your left side is the same as sleeping on your right, right? Wrong. 

There are certainly benefits to side sleeping in general, as it helps keep your airways open and your snoring in check while also helping to remove toxins from the brain. But there are also downsides, especially for right-side sleepers. Sleeping on your right side may increase pressure on your internal organs, especially in pregnant women, which can lead to intense acid reflux and heartburn symptoms.

A majority of adults are side sleepers, preferring to curl up in the fetal position as they snuggle into bed. Whether you prefer your ride or left side, or flip-flop throughout the night, it’s important to use a structured pillow that supports your neck and shoulders while keeping your spine in a neutral position. 

Back to Basics

If you’re suffering from stomach pain, the National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping on your back, as it is the best position for almost any type of pain. 

When you sleep on your back, you’re better able to distribute your weight evenly. Even weight distribution can help alleviate the pressure on your shoulders and hips, reduce inflammation, and, ultimately, support relaxation. Just make sure to elevate your head and support your back; a comfortable pillow and ergonomic mattress should do the trick.

Front & Center

Most sleep experts do not recommend sleeping on your stomach if you’re struggling with digestion issues or stomach pains. 

Sleeping on your stomach makes it difficult to keep your spine aligned and in a neutral position. This misalignment can result in back and neck pain. Additionally, if you tuck your arms or hands under a pillow, you may suffer from numbness, tingling, and pain.

If you can shake sleeping on your stomach, try using a flat pillow or none at all! You can even tuck a pillow under your pelvis to help relieve pressure on your hips and back.


Sleep professionals agree that sleeping on your back and left side is best for digestion and pain management.

While knowing what side to lay on when your stomach hurts can help you avoid further discomfort, it is ultimately your body that will make the decision of what feels right. Whether you choose to sleep on your front or back, left or right side, it is important to use quality pillows and a firm mattress that will keep you comfortable and supported all night long.

Visit www.bettersleep.org to discover more helpful hacks to improve your sleep and explore exciting sleep research from BSC sleep experts.

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