Getting a good night’s sleep is important for physical health. Plenty of Zzzs keeps a person’s heart healthy and helps repair blood vessels. However, sleep itself isn’t the only factor in a person’s health; how they sleeps may relieve heartburn, strengthen a bad back, and improve circulation – especially in pregnant women. How a person sleeps also may determine if they wake refreshed, horny, or screaming in terror.
Of the sides of the body a person can sleep on – back, stomach, right, left – each comes with its own pros and cons. Sleeping on the back helps the spine, but for those who snore, that position makes snoring worse. Lying on the stomach relieves snoring, but is bad for the spine – it also has the benefit of giving the sleeper erotic dreams.
In a 2012 sleep study at Hong Shue Yan University in Hong Kong, researcher Calvin Kai-Ching Yu, Ph.D. discovered people who sleep face down dream about walking around naked, having sex, being tied up and seeing UFOs. He said pressure on the front of the body – thus the naughty bits – may be the cause.
“Different sleep positions may create pressure to different parts of the body and body feelings may be the sources of dream elements,” Yu wrote.
Not sure how that explains the UFOs. Probing, maybe?
Right-side sleepers suffer more cases of heartburn, but tend to have good dreams. However, it is the left-side sleepers who have the most health benefits. Sleeping on the left side relieves heartburn, lessens snoring, improves circulation, improves digestion and is better for the heart, spleen and lymphatic system.
However, sleeping on the left side also leads to nightmares.
According to a 2004 study by Dr Mehmet Yucel Agargun and fellow researchers from Turkey’s Yuzuncu Yil University in Turkey, 40.9 per cent of the people who sleep on their left side have terrifying dreams, compared to the 14.6 per cent of those who sleep on their right side who experience them. An overwhelming percentage of remembered dreams by right side sleepers exhibited safety and well being.
The study mirrored Yu’s opinion.
"Our preliminary observations indicate that dreaming and sleep quality are associated with underlying brain functions and may be affected by body posture," researchers wrote in the study.
One thing the researchers didn’t discover is why sleeping on the right side causes dreams about safety, whereas sleeping on the left side causes dreams of terror.
Maybe Chinese tradition can offer a clue.
According to ancient Chinese beliefs, the left side of the body is responsible for thoughts, feelings and emotions, whereas the right side is responsible for the desires for food, rest and warmth. Sleeping on the right side would therefore promote feelings of comfort, whereas sleeping on the left side would throw thoughts and emotions into turmoil which are brought into the sleeping mind as nightmares.
So, what do we do with that information?
Food has long been known to affect dreams. “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato,” Ebenezer Scrooge told Jacob Marley’s ghost in Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Cheese, along with spicy foods, alcohol and sweets, can bring about nocturnal terrors.
So if you’re adventurous and want to see what a self-inflicted night of cold sweats and screaming might bring, eat a big plate of spicy food, have a couple of drinks and sleep on your left side. Make sure to let us here at Mysterious Universe know how that turns out.