Your sleeping position could help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s 31



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We already know that sleeping on your side is, broadly speaking, very good for you. It clears the airwaves and helps you breathe, allowing for a potentially better night’s sleep. It can help with back and posture problems. It offers safety against sleep apnea.

But now there’s a far more vital reason to consider rolling over: sleeping on your side could benefit your brain health.

A new study by Stony Brook University reveals that this side position, a.k.a. “lateral position”, is the most effective in removing the brain’s waste products, which we naturally build up over the course of the day. It is believed that sleep is our body’s way of getting rid of this waste.

According to Science Alert, when the waste is allowed to continue building up (through either lack of sleep or less optimal sleep) it can lead to neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

This will come as good news for many – lateral position is the most commonly used among people in general – and a welcome reminder to the minority of us who sleep on our stomach or back. (One great way to encourage this habit over the next couple of months: hug a pillow.)

Even other animals seem to naturally prefer this position – including rodents used in the study.

“It is interesting that the lateral sleep position is already the most popular in human and most animals – even in the wild,” said research co-author Maiken Nedergaard, “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”.

“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 increasingly acknowledged that these sleep disturbances may accelerate memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease”.

Do you sleep on your side? If not: would you alter it in light of this news?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Trials start for Alzheimer medication in Australia in 2017, this is drug invented by Australian scientists, if you have someone with this terrible debilitating condition, try to sign them up

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  2. Very interesting! I dig hubby in the ribs all night to get him to turn over. I sleep on my right side and can’t stand being on my back!

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    • Me too Catharine. Mine even has the sleep apnea machine on which still makes a racket. I’ve always slept on my right side also (facing away from the racket he makes – although that doesn’t dull the noise much) 🙂

    • Catharine Definitely the snoring! He used to sound like a locomotive at times, then a whistle, then a snort. At least this remains constant.

  3. Oh oh, Vicki Healey, looks like we are headed for dementia, if we don’t get some sleep and, just to make matters worse, I sleep on my stomach!

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  4. Side lying does not necessarily help with sleep apnoea if it is related to an under-bite of the lower jaw. I have slept from side to side, with a pillow through the length of my legs (thigh to ankle) following spinal surgery 10 years ago. I can no longer lie on my back or stomach as this brings about intense pain. Even using my sleep apnoea machine, I have found that my mouth can open, & I wake with a very dry throat. But at least the machine is keeping my airways open..

  5. All I know about me sleeping (if I do at all) is that I turn over several times… I lie down on my left side and wake up somewhere different…
    I even fell of the sofa – I had fallen asleep and was turning over to put my arm over my husband’s chest…but of course he wasn’t there because I wasn’t in the bed… I hugged the floor instead (things that go “bump” in the night…

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