Sweep away damaging brain toxins... in your sleep!
How are you sleeping?
Usually, that means how much rest you're getting, and how good that sleep is.
Those are both critical measures of sleep, of course. But new research finds another factor that may be almost as important, but gets almost no attention at all: sleep position.
When you sleep, your brain uses that time to put its internal cleaning crew to work clearing out toxins.
It's called the glymphatic pathway, and it's like bringing your car in for an oil change. While you sleep, cerebrospinal fluid flows through the brain, replacing the interstitial fluid that carries out toxins such as beta amyloid and tau.
Since the accumulation of those toxins can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, I don't think it's any exaggeration to say this is one of THE most important functions in your body.
And if you're a side sleeper, I've got some great news for you today: You're really, really good at this without even trying.
Side sleepers are better than both "back snoozers" and "belly floppers" at clearing out brain junk, according to the study from Stony Brook University in New York.
But if you sleep on your back or belly, don't panic. It's an interesting study, but that's all it is -- an interesting study.
I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep over it.
At the end of the day -- or I guess, in this case, after the end of the day -- the two most important factors for clearing out brain toxins are still sleep duration and sleep quality. Rather than worry about shifting positions, focus instead on making sure you get the right amount and right kind of sleep.
Along with protecting your brain from damaging toxins, proper sleep can help protect the rest of your vital organs and help strengthen your immune system.
But if you're not sleeping well, don't turn to meds.
They won't increase duration by much, and the quality of sleep can be all over the place. Plus, they come with risks up to, and including, death.
Work instead to find the cause of your sleepless nights. Sometimes, it's a lifestyle issue such as too much late-day caffeine or too much late-night TV. In other cases, you may need a little of the "sleep hormone" melatonin.
If you're having trouble getting to the bottom of it yourself, contact a holistic medical doctor who can have you sleeping like a baby in no time.