Tuesday, 29 September 2015 00:00

Get a good night’s sleep…on your side to avoid Alzheimer’s

The Journal of Neuroscience recently published a study that may link lateral or side sleepers to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The study by Researchers at Stony Brook University, Hedok Lee, Helene Benveniste and colleagues, notes that a side sleeping position as opposed to either sleeping on ones stomach or back, may remove waste in the brain which could effectively prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as other brain degenerative diseases. 

It has been widely known that sleep disturbances and too little sleep are major contributors to developing Alzheimer’s, but now, in addition to getting a good night’s rest, science is suggesting that rest be taken on your side. 

The researchers imaged the brain’s glymphatic pathway, the system that clears away the brains waste, with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and noted that is was more effective at removing brain waste. Humans and animals have many functions that keep our bodies as healthy as possible, most of these are done subconsciously.  The fact that the lateral sleep position is the most popular among humans and animals could mean that our sleep preferences are not for comfort only, but serve a much greater purpose, to clear our brains of waste. 

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, avoid these common bedtime routines:

  • Washing your face with cold water.  Cold water stimulates the body to release energy to keep warm and at the same time, keep you awake. 
  • Watching exciting movies or reading a gripping book. Intellectually stimulating brain activities keep your mind working, which can lead to disturbed sleep. 
  • One last cigarette with your coffee before bed. Nicotine and caffeine are both stimulants and should be avoided at least four hours before going to bed.
  • Brushing with peppermint toothpaste.  Peppermint is thought to be a stimulant which means that the simple act of brushing teeth could be keeping some folks awake at night. 

The study further strengthens the importance of getting the correct amount of undisturbed sleep to function at your highest level, as our bodies are continuously working in many different ways whilst we are both awake and asleep.

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