The Best Sleep Position for Your BrainRoll over on your side! Sleeping on your side--as opposed to your back or tummy--appears to more effectively remove brain waste and so could help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological diseases, according to researchers at Stony Brook University.
While we sleep, our brains are actively in clean-up mode, sweeping up the junk and gunk that accumulate while we are awake.
In the Stony Brook study, researchers Helene Benveniste and Hedok Lee used dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the glymphatic pathway in the brains of rodents. The glymphatic pathway is a complex system that clears wastes and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain.
And what they found is that sleeping on the side is the best position to most efficiently remove waste from the brain. Brain waste includes amyloid and tau proteins, chemicals that negatively affect brain processes if they build up and could contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions.
"Many types of dementia are linked to sleep disturbances, including difficulties in falling asleep. It is increasingly acknowledged that these sleep disturbances may accelerate memory loss in Alzheimer's disease," said Benveniste. "Our finding brings new insight into this topic by showing it is also important what position you sleep in."
Fun fact: Side sleeping, also called lateral sleeping, is the most common sleep position for both humans and animals, including animals in the wild. We may have evolved this way simply because it is the best position for the brain.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.