A new study has found that your sleeping position can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. People who prefer to sleep on their side, rather than their stomach or their back, have a reduced risk of developing the mental disorder.
A team of researchers from Stony Brook University and the University of Rochester informs that sleeping on one’s side is the best position for helping the brain with its nighttime processes meant to clean out harmful chemicals, bad buildup and waste.
The lab tests were conducted on mice and their goal was to asses how well the mouse brains managed to get rid of the above mentioned waste when the rodents were made to sleep in various positions – on their backs, on their stomachs, on one side. The researchers used MRI scans in order to observe the subjects’ the glymphatic pathway (the nighttime processes that cleans the brain).
Brain waste refers to things such as tau proteins and beta amyloid, chemicals which are often linked to common plaques and tangles in Alzheimer’s patients.
Maiken Nedergaard, researcher from University of Rochester, gave a statement saying that “It is interesting that the lateral sleep position is already the most popular in human and most animals – even in the wild”. He went on to theorize that we have adapted this lateral sleeping position in order to help our brains clear our “the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake” most efficiently.
Statistically speaking, field experts estimate that almost two in three (2 in 3) people living in North America prefer to sleep on their side.
The research team did admit that further research needs to conducted, however it also mentioned that many previous studies have established an important connection between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, as well as other neurological diseases.
Nedergaard and his colleagues concluded that their study adds further reinforcement to the notion that sleep is responsible for subverting a specific biological function belonging to sleep – the “clean up” process designed to rid the brain of the mess it accumulates while we’re awake.
It’s important to know that field experts have linked many types of dementia to sleep disturbances such as having trouble falling asleep. They generally agree that such sleep disturbances can accelerate memory loss and lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
What is unique to the new study is that it also shows how sleeping positions are equally important.
The study was published earlier this week, in the Journal of Neuroscience.
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