New research suggests that sleeping on your side could help cut the chances of developing some neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’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 remove waste chemicals that may contribute to the development of such conditions.
The research 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 contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to view the glymphatic pathway in rodent brains. This is the system in mammals responsible for clearing wastes and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain by way of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) filtering through the brain and exchanging with interstitial fluid (ISF).
It is during sleep that the glymphatic pathway is most efficient at removing brain waste, including amyloid β and tau proteins, whose build up in the brain is associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The researchers ascertained the efficiency 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.