Does Sleep Position Matter?

sleep position

Do you toss and turn in bed or rest in the same sleep position every night… on your back, side or stomach?  And, does it really make a difference?

The answer is yes, according to findings of a research study at Stony Brook University and published in The Journal of Neuroscience

In the study, researchers at Stony Brook examined different sleeping positions and found that sleeping on your side is optimal for promoting a healthy brain.

The Stony Brook study was conducted with laboratory animals and not humans. Yet, sleep expert Dr. Carol Ash, D.O.,  director of sleep medicine at New Jersey-based Meridian Health, suggests important learning for humans resulted from the research project, which examined brain differences in laboratory animals who slept on their side, back and stomach.

During an interview, Ash explained that proteins and toxins naturally build up during the day in the brain. If this waste is not cleared out during sleep, these substances can be associated over time with the potential onset of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.  

Based on the Stony Brook findings, research demonstrated that the animals that slept on their sides eliminated more of the harmful proteins and toxins from their brains than those who slept on their stomachs and backs.

While the impact of sleeping positions has not been tested on humans, the findings of this study suggest that sleeping on your side may be the best to promote a healthy brain.

Benefits of Sleep

Extensive scientific research has been conducted over the years that demonstrate the value and importance of sleep on human health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 30 percent of people experience poor sleep on a regular basis.

Not getting the rejuvenating sleep you need can compromise emotional and physical wellbeing. In some cases, poor sleep can lead to serious health issues and/or result from serious health issues – some potentially life threatening.

Getting restful, adequate sleep each night strengthens your body’s immune system, supports heart health, improves memory and recall, enhances your ability to handle stress, and provides many other benefits.

With this latest study from Stony Brook University, now sleep position, as well as quality and amount of sleep, may play an important role in health.

If you are experiencing difficulty with any aspect of your sleep, including falling asleep or staying asleep, it is important see your healthcare provider.  

Related Information - Sleep Position

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Importance of Sleep
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Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Causes of Extreme Fatigue
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Physical Effects of Stress


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