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Clean And Drain Your Brain By Doing This One Little Thing Every Night
You have probably heard by now that the way we tend to sleep most of the night — on our back, stomach, side, or in the fetal position — can affect everything from our well-bring, personality, even our mood. Did you know, however, that what position you sleep in can actually affect the health of your brain?
A study recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience shows that sleeping on our sides, instead of on our stomach or back, allows the brain to remove waste products, which can reduce our risk of developing neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
It has long been known that the best sleep positions are on our side or on our backs when it comes to supporting the spine and neck, as well as keeping airways open for deep sleep. A 2007 study confirmed that those who slept mostly on their sides had deeper sleep patterns as well as less shoulder, arm, and neck pain when compared to those who slept in other positions. This study was published in The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice.
The Stony Brook University School of Medicine looked at how our sleeping positions affected our brain health and how it discarded of metabolic waste. This study involved rats used to identify the glymphatic pathway. This works very much like the way the lymph system purifies the waste from our organs — cerebrospinal fluid flows through the brain and exchanges with our interstitial fluid to take out all the waste. It is when we are deeply asleep that this glymphatic pathway is at its most efficient. Amyloid proteins and tau proteins, commonly associated with poor brain function if allowed to build up, are commonly found in the waste removed from the brain as we sleep.
The glymphatic system is, for the most part, inactive during daylight hours. While we sleep, the size of the pathways increases by about 60 percent. This allows the cerebrospinal fluid to move through the body at a much faster pace.
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This study used MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to observe this pathway in rats. These rodents were given anesthesia and were placed on their sides, backs, and stomachs for sleep. This study showed that the glymphatic movement was most efficient for the rats that slept on their sides. This adds more evidence to the idea that sleep performs a particular biological function besides the obvious — to help the body cleans up the mess that occurs during waking hours. It is interesting that the most popular sleep position, even for animals in the wild, is popular for a good reason, as it clears waste from the brain.
This study would indicate that our sleep position is essential for warding off neurological diseases linked to sleep disturbances, such as dementia. Many people who are afflicted with dementia often state that they had trouble falling asleep for years before the disease struck. This study suggests that sleep disorders are linked to brain waste not being completely removed or not having sufficient time to be removed properly.
A 2013 study published in the journal Science also discussed how sleep can help to restore our brains by flushing out the toxins that build up when we are awake. These studies only highlight the importance of sleep in the prevention of disease and the improvement of health. This fascinating study suggests that certain brain disorders, such as dementia, might be able to be treated or prevented in the future by watching how the glymphatic system works or doesn’t work.
The discovery of the glymphatic system and pathways is literally earth-shaking news! This tells us so much about why we sleep and why most humans and animals sleep in the same position.
This might explain why those who sleep only five hours a night have difficulty concentrating and focusing the next day. It’s not so much that you are tired, but that your brain has a backup of waste! Kinda gives new meaning to the term “I’m wasted,” doesn’t it?
If you want to ensure that you sleep mostly on your side, you can try a trick that works for people who tend to snore when they sleep on their back. Sew a tennis ball in the middle of your pajama top or a t-shirt. This ensures than when you roll over on your back or stomach, you will quickly move to your side.