Sleeping on your side may clear waste from your brain most effectively | KurzweilAI
August 5, 2015
Sleeping in the lateral, or side position, as compared to sleeping on one’s back or stomach, may more effectively remove brain waste, and could reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, according to researchers at Stony Brook University.
Stony Brook University researchers discovered this in experiments with rodents by using dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the brain’s glymphatic pathway, a complex system that clears wastes and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain. They also used kinetic modeling to quantify the CSF-ISF exchange rates in anesthetized rodents’ brains in lateral, prone, and supine positions.
Colleagues at the University of Rochester used fluorescence microscopy and radioactive tracers to validate the MRI data and to assess the influence of body posture on the clearance of amyloid from the brains.
Their finding is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Most popular position in humans and animals
“It is interesting that the lateral sleep position is already the most popular in human and most animals —even in the wild — and it appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to most efficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake,” says Maiken Nedergaard, PhD, a co-author at the University of Rochester.
“The study therefore adds further support to the concept that sleep subserves a distinct biological function of sleep and that is to ‘clean up’ the mess that accumulates while we are awake. Many types of dementia are linked to sleep disturbances, including difficulties in falling asleep. It is increasing acknowledged that these sleep disturbances may accelerate memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.”
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