Who Wants Their Brain Washed While Sleeping?

Flushing your brain keeps Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s at bay.

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Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

Do you battle with sleep? So here’s the real deal: 

I’m tossing and turning to nod every night, worrying if my head is in the correct position to get a good long wash cycle. Yes, wash cycle.

So instead of sleeping soundly, I’m thinking…

“Where is my head?” “Am I sleeping on my side or my back?” “Wait – I don’t want to fall asleep on my stomach. I want a good wash cycle.”

Did you know your brain washes when you sleep? It’s imperative that this process takes place because sweeping out the garbage (beta-amyloid and tau proteins) protects us from neurologic diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

During a single day, our brains accumulate trash or garbage including the tiny pieces of proteins that cause dementia and Alzheimer’s. While we sleep, our brain cells shrink in size to open up the gaps between our neurons. This shrinkage allows the cerebrospinal fluid to wash the brain clean of the toxic buildup from the day before and flush it out of our system.

This simple act of rinse and dry nightly appears to offer the best explanation why all animals including people need sleep. It also explains why a lack of sleep makes us stupid, forgetful and stumbling around in a daze. We desperately need sleep to function and survive.

One more thing to keep you up at night!

So why am I worried about my head position while sleeping? Researchers now say the amount of toxins flushed during the night depends on the direction your head is laying while you’re sleeping.

Results of research completed at Stony Brook University in New York and published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that animal brains washed efficiently when their head was in certain positions while sleeping. Basically, if you sleep on your tummy or back you retain more waste in your brain than if you sleep on your side.

Granted this research, while completed on rats, not people, isn’t conclusive the researchers speculate the results would apply to people as well. This makes sense because we know that sleep restores brain cell functions and if the results are good enough for an animal, it’s good enough for people too.

As a sleep sherpa, I’m selecting another tool out of my sleep basket when I wake up wondering if I’m snoozing in the correct position.

With my eyes closed, I imagine my sleep basket above my head. I open the lid and place this worry away deep inside the basket. I tightly close the lid on the basket knowing it is safely tucked away until morning. 

No second thoughts, no more worrying. Only rest and relaxation while I drift off to sleep…

Falling asleep on my side of course.

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