A new study suggests sleeping on your side may be the most effective way of clearing toxic materials from your brain, which could prevent Alzheimer's and neurodegenerative diseases.
While the lateral position, lying on one's side, is the most common for humans and animals in the wild, findings showed it may also help flush harmful substances out of the brain.
The Stony Brook University study, published on Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, focuses on the brain's cleansing system, known as the glymphatic system, which flushes waste products from the brain, spinal cord and nervous system.
With knowledge that the glymphatic system is most active during sleep, Stony Brook University scientists used dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to observe the glymphatic pathway of rodents.
This was in order to test if sleep position affects how well the glymphatic pathway function works, reports the Daily Mail.
Study of rodents may prove link to Alzheimer's disease
Using MRI, scientists observed rodents under anesthesia in three positions - on their sides, the lateral position, on their stomachs, the prone position, and on their backs, the supine position.
"The analysis showed that glymphatic transport was most efficient in the lateral position compared with the supine or prone positions," the abstract for the study said.
Helene Benveniste, lead author of the study, said that the rodents who were lying on their sides cleared amyloid beta about 25 per cent better than when in the other two positions.
Amyloid beta and tau proteins, some of the waste products, are believed to contribute to Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
"When amyloid beta builds up it can form aggregated plaques, which are very difficult for the brain to get rid of," Benveniste said.
The aggregated plaques are a characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association.