It may be hard to believe but your sleeping position can have a significant effect on your brain health.
It may be hard to believe but your sleeping position can have a significant effect on your brain health. According to a study conducted at the Stony Brook University in New York, body posture during sleep can significantly affect the rate by which brain wastes are removed. Thus, sleeping in a particular position can help reduce the chances of developing neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicated that a lateral sleeping position can facilitate the effective elimination of metabolic waste products and other toxic substances (such as beta amyloid and tau proteins) in the brain. When left to accumulate, these harmful chemicals can negatively affect brain processes and may increase a person’s risk of developing serious neurological diseases.
The research honed in on how different sleeping positions affect the rate by which the brains of mice remove waste. By using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, researchers were able to observe and analyze how different sleeping stances affect the glymphatic pathway (the system that gets rid of bad buildup and harmful chemicals in the brain).
Based on the results of their experiments, researchers were able to conclude that the lateral sleeping position or sleeping on one’s side removed metabolic brain wastes more effectively as compared to sleeping on one’s back or stomach. The researchers’ colleagues at the University of Rochester then validated these data using fluorescence microscopy and radioactive tracers, and obtained the same results.
While further testing is needed to validate these observations in humans, the study has already accomplished a significant feat by reinforcing the connection between sleep and the development of neurological disorders.
How Sleep Affects the Brain
Aside from facilitating the effective removal of disease-causing substances in the brain, sleep also plays other important roles in keeping the brain in excellent condition.
- It can help repair daily wear and tear. Studies indicate that the body releases chemicals which are crucial for repairing the body and the brain during the deeper stages of sleep. On the other hand, extended wakefulness can permanently damage the neurons (nerve cells responsible for transmitting electrical impulses) and affect a person’s cognitive abilities.
- It can enhance learning. The information you obtained during the day are processed while you sleep. Thus, people who get enough sleep have higher IQs and better memories (both short-term and long-term) as compared to people who don’t get enough sleep.
These studies only prove that sleep is vital for your health and well-being so start getting enough sleep and get into the habit of sleeping on your side if you aren’t already doing it. It can do your brain a lot of good.