Health & Wellbeing

Sleeping on your side appears to cut the risk of neurological disorders

Sleeping on your side appears ...
Sleeping on one's side could help clear waste and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain
Sleeping on one's side could help clear waste and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain
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Sleeping on one's side could help clear waste and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain
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Sleeping on one's side could help clear waste and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain

New research suggests that sleeping on your sidecould help cut the chances of developing some neurological disorders, includingAlzheimer's and Parkinson's. Compared to sleeping on one's back or stomach,sleeping on one's side appears to allow the brain to more efficiently removewaste chemicals that may contribute to the development of such conditions.

Theresearch team, led by Helene Benveniste, MD, PHD, a Professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Radiology at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, used dynamic contrastmagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to view the glymphatic pathway in rodentbrains. This is the system in mammals responsible for clearing wastes and otherharmful chemical solutes from the brain by way of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)filtering through the brain and exchanging with interstitial fluid (ISF).

Itis during sleep that the glymphatic pathway is most efficient at removing brainwaste, including amyloid β and tau proteins, whose build up in the brainis associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The researchers ascertained theefficiency of this system in the brains of anesthetized rodents in the side,down and up sleeping positions by viewing the CSF-ISF exchange rates via MRI.

"The analysis showed us consistently thatglymphatic transport was most efficient in the lateral (side) position whencompared to the supine (up) or prone (down) positions," said Dr.Benveniste. "Because of this finding, we propose that the body posture andsleep quality should be considered when standardizing future diagnostic imagingprocedures to assess CSF-ISF transport in humans and therefore the assessmentof the clearance of damaging brain proteins that may contribute to or causebrain diseases."

Colleagues at the University of Rochester validatedthe MRI data and assessed the influence of body posture in clearing amyloidfrom the brains using fluorescence microscopy and radioactive tracers.

"It is interesting that the lateral sleepposition is already the most popular in human and most animals – even in thewild – and it appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to mostefficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up whilewe are awake," says Dr. Nedergaard, PHD, from the University of Rochester."The study therefore adds further support to the concept that sleepsubserves a distinct biological function of sleep and that is to 'clean up' themess that accumulates while we are awake. Our finding brings new insight into this topic by showingit is also important what position you sleep in."

Although the researchers expect the human glymphaticpathway will also clear brain waste most efficiently when a person sleeps ontheir side, tests on humans are still required to confirm this.

The team's paper appears in the Journal ofNeuroscience.

Source: Stony Brook University

7 comments
jamieoliver
Interesting, I read that in Islam, the Prophet Muhammad has said that one should sleep on its right. It isn't surprising that this is being verified thousands of years after he said this :)
SIMSIM
In Islam, it is advised (more than 1400 years ago) to sleep on the right side with right hand under the cheek. This way of sleeping has proven to have many benefits among which is the above research findings.
Bob Flint
Start on the left three minutes, switch to the right side drift off to sleep. Collects & transfers blood from the left to the right slows heart rate, and relaxes the entire body. "Brain Drain" has a whole new meaning.
Ra'anan
Oh, that's Talmudic & predates Islam by maybe 500 years. It's recorded in Tractate Berakhoth 13, but I believe it says to start the night on the left side & in the middle of the night switch to the right side. The left side helps w/digestion.
Robert Walther
Resting on your left side relieves indigestion. I have to sleep on my left or right side since dual, emergency, open-heart surgeries 10 years ago. An unexpected benefit of having my chest split open. Who knew?
charlieFreak
That's interesting. I've noticed that I belch when I lie on my left side - not sure that's good for digestion. I figure the stomach/duodenum shape acts as a U-bend when you're lying on the right side, which stops gas coming up.
Heikki Kääriäinen
I have noticed that sleeping in my camping hammock gives me a better sleep than any bed. Possibly it has something to do with lack of pressure points as a good hammock provides a body hugging support from all sides.