It has been realized that all the hadiths of the prophet concerning health are in agreement with scientific reports. Now many people, including doctors, are implementing the prophet’s hadiths (traditional sayings) in treatments and the results are amazing. In this article, we are discussing the health benefits of sleeping on the right side as prescribed by the prophet in the light of modern scientific studies.
Al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib said, “When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to retire to his bed, he would lie on his right side and then say, ‘O Allah, I surrender my soul to You and I turn my face to You and I entrust my affair to You and I seek Your support with hope and fear of You. There is no refuge from You but to You. I have believed in Your Book which You sent down and Your Prophet whom You sent.'” [Al-Bukhari: 814.]
al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib reported: ‘The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, ‘Whenever you go to bed, do wudu’ as you do wudu’ for the prayer and then lie down on your right side. Then say…'” and he mentioned the rest of it and in it is, “Make that the last of the words that you utter.” [Al-Bukhari: 815.]
816. ‘A’isha said, “The Prophet , may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray eleven rak’ats at night. When it was dawn, he would pray two quick rak’ats and then lie on his right side until the mu’adhin came and gave the adhan.” [Agreed upon]
Sleeping on the abdomen
When a person lies on his abdomen, he faces some troubles in respiration system simply because the weight of the backbone prevents the chest from expanding and receding back normally when inhaling and exhaling. Moreover, this way of sleeping always leaves the vertebras of the back of the neck binding.
In a study by an Australian researcher, later corroborated by another research that was published in the Times, the ratio of deaths of children who put to bed on abdomen to those who sleeps normally is three to one.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) warned against sleeping on the abdomen, he once passed by a man sleeping on his abdomen and when he saw him like he rebuked him.
Sleeping on the back
Sleeping on your back will lead you to breathe through your mouth because the lower jaw will be loose.
Breathing through the nose is the normal healthy way, the mucus and the hairs along with the capillaries play an important role in warming and filtering the air from the dirt. Breathing through the mouth can result in contracting flu and dehydration of the gums leaving them suffering from pyorrhea.
Sleeping on the left side
Sleeping on the left side is not a healthy way either, because the heart will have to bear heavy weight of the right lung which is a little larger than the left one, this will lead to bad performance of the heart especially for the aged.
A recent medical study says:
It has been shown that patients with chronic heart failure tend to prefer sleeping on their right side as opposed to their left. Subsequent studies have demonstrated that, indeed, sympathetic nervous system activity is lower in patients with chronic heart failure, or in those who have had a heart attack, when they lie on their right sides versus their left. Sympathetic nervous activity is what controls heart rate and blood pressure and thus, for these patients, lying on the right reduces their heart rate and blood pressure, both of which are good for the heart when faced with these medical conditions. As such, some authorities recommend that patients with heart failure or who have had a heart attack not sleep on their left sides. It should be noted, however, that this therapy has not been studied to confirm that it changes other clinical outcomes.
Why lowering of sympathetic nervous system activity happens with changes in position is not entirely clear. Some researchers have suggested that when the right side is down, the heart is in a more superior position, making it easier for it to pump blood out. However, this has not been studied at this time to prove this is the case. Furthermore, whether the effects noted are of any significance to individuals who do not have heart failure or have not had a heart attack is unclear.
Of interest is the fact that body position in sleep does affect other conditions. For those with heart burn (gastroesophageal reflux), sleeping with the right side down actually worsens nighttime reflux as compared to sleeping with the left side down. And for those with obstructive sleep apnea, sleeping flat on your back tends to worsen this condition (as opposed to sleeping on your sides).
Moreover modern research states that food takes a period that ranges between 2.5-4.5 hours to travel through the intestines, if you sleep on your right side. However, food takes a period ranging between 5-8 hours if you sleep on your left side.
Thus, sleeping on the right side is the correct position as the left lung is smaller than the right one and the pressure on the heart would therefore be less, the liver would not be suspended, and the stomach would be on it and so emptying its contents would be quicker.
Moreover sleeping on the right side is one of the best medical interventions to facilitate the excretion of the mucous secretions of the left respiratory bronchioles.
That is what was said by Dr Al Rawi who added that the reason for the expansion of the airways in the left lung and not the ones in the right one is that the right lung’s bronchioles are laterally positioned to a certain extent, whereas the ones in the left lung are vertical and so it is harder to push the secretions upwards to be excreted. This leads to their accumulation in the inferior segment, leading to the expansion .The symptoms at this stage is excessive phlegm discharge in the morning which may exacerbate and lead to serious illnesses such as lungs’ apse and urinary disease, and one of the most modern treatments for those cases is sleeping on the right side.
By Magdy Abdalshafy