October 21, 2015

Woman lying in bed smilingAs we age, we tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep. We all look forward to a good night’s rest, and with good reason: it’s incredibly important for our health. One benefit to sleeping lies with a particular sleep position, which, studies have shown, can help your brain eliminate buildup of harmful chemicals and the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, mice were placed in various sleep positions and scanned with MRIs to review the performance of their glymphatic pathways (which remove harmful waste). It was clear that those sleeping in a lateral position, on their sides, had the most efficient removal of metabolic waste buildup.

Maiken Nedergaard, researcher for the University of Rochester, notes, “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.” This is especially of interest for those with dementia such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological issues, which are often linked to sleep disturbances.

Learn more about how brains sweep themselves clean of toxins during sleep by reading this NPR article.

If you or your loved one is affected by caregiving-related or aging-related sleeping issues, contact Continuum to learn how our home care services in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties can help.