Can Sleeping on Your Side Reduce Alzheimer's Risk?
Some good news for people who sleep on their sides. A study at Stony Brook University in New York suggests that sleeping on your side, instead of your back or stomach, could help the brain eliminate waste products more effectively, and that may lower the risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
For their study, researchers looked at a complex system in the brain called the glymphatic pathway, which is responsible for clearing toxic substances that threaten cell and tissue function. The glymphatic pathway is most efficient during sleep when it cleans out the buildup of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Specifically, the scientists used dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer modeling to measure brain fluids in sedated rodents in three different positions - on their side, on their stomach, and on their back. Their findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, showed that the glymphatic system worked most efficiently in the side-sleeping rodents.
The study reinforces the notion that sleep posture and quality should be considered when assessing brain disease risk.