New research from the Stony Brook University in New York has suggested that sleeping on your side may help prevent Alzheimer's, and a host of other neurodegenerative diseases, due to waste clearance improving from the brain.
The study has found that side-sleeping could flush out harmful substances, particularly looking at the glymphatic system that removes waste from the brain, nervous system and spinal cord. This system is actually most active during sleep and researchers were able to use dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the systems of rodents.
The rats were put under anesthesia in three positions - on their stomachs, on their backs and on their sides - and it emerged that glymphatic transport was most efficient when they were asleep on their sides. In total, the removal of amyloid beta was 25 per cent more effective when sleeping on the side. Some studies go as far as to say as the whole reason why we sleep is so we can clean the brain out of toxins that build up during the day.
Speaking to Yahoo Health, Helene Benveniste, lead author of the study, said: "'When amyloid beta builds up it can form aggregated plaques, which are very difficult for the brain to get rid of."
Ms Benveniste added that sleeping on one's side can encourage the flow of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain and now her team will be looking at how the glymphatic system can be controlled through a lifetime to prevent long-term disease. Side-sleeping has in the past also proven to improve sleep apnea and snoring. It is important to note, however, that these findings are preliminary and are not sure proof.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
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