What position to sleep in?

Should you sleep on the right or on the left side? Researchers led by Dr. Helene Benveniste of Stony Brook University discovered that sleeping on the right side provides better drainage of toxins out of the brain, at least in rats. She presented their findings at the meeting of the American Headache Society in San Diego earlier this month.

The lymphatic system, which has been long known to exist throughout the body, was only recently discovered in the brain. It is called a glymphatic system because brain’s glial cells form this network of draining channels. According to the latest studies, our brain does housekeeping by removing waste products when we are asleep. Insomnia has been associated not only with more frequent migraine headaches, but also with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which is thought to be at least in part due to accumulation of waste products in brain cells.

When you google sleep positions, many sites recommend sleeping on the left side, but no scientific studies have been done to see which position is more beneficial. The rat study mentioned above suggests that sleeping on either side is better than sleeping on your back or on the stomach. Hopefully, Dr. Benveniste and her colleagues will conduct studies in humans, so that we know how to sleep. For now, whatever position you sleep in, try to get enough sleep every night.

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