A good night’s sleep helps the body function properly and gets you going the rest of the day without much trouble.

It could be better with a specific sleeping posture.

In a study conducted by Stony Brook University in New York, researchers found that sleeping in the lateral position may help the brain in removing waste products more effectively than sleeping on one’s back or stomach. It also suggests fewer chances of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

The study, which experimented on anesthetized mice, used a dynamic contrast MRI method and kinetic modeling in quantifying the exchange rates of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial fluid (ISF) in the rodents’ brains. The researchers looked at the glymphatic pathway — or the filtering — of CSF-ISF exchange rates in the lateral (side), prone (down) and supine (up) sleeping positions.

“The analysis showed us consistently that glymphatic transport was most efficient in the lateral position when compared to the` supine or prone positions,” said Dr. Helene Benveniste, a professor at Stony Brook’s Departments of Anesthesiology and Radiology and lead investigator of the study. Her team proposed that body position and quantity of sleep must be considered in standardizing future diagnostic imaging in assessing the transport of CSF-ISF in humans, as well as in the assessment of damaging brain proteins that could lead to brain diseases.

The researchers also noted that the lateral position, or sleeping on one’s side, is most popular among both humans and most animals, even those in the wild. Although it has not actually been tested on humans, the study strongly suggests the effects sleeping positions may have on the brain. According to Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a co-author of the study and who leads the University of Rochester’s specialist lab that studies brain function, findings of their research reveals new insight into the topic, stressing the importance of the positions in which we choose to sleep.

The researchers believe the same happens to the human brain but emphasize the need for further research, using similar MRI and imaging methods on actual human subjects.

The team further elaborates on the findings of the study in the paper published online in The Journal of Neuroscience.