Recently, there was an issue online from the Neurology journal that talked about a study that suggested that there is a connection between the size of your brain and the amount of sleep that you are getting every night. This study took a look at 147 adults ranging in age from 20 up to 84 where researchers took a closer look at the actual volume of each participant’s brain matter and any issues that they had pertaining to sleep, such as sleep apnea or insomnia.
During this study, the people were asked to complete a survey that pertained to their sleep habits while a scan was taken. Then, a second scan was done around 3 1/2 years later.
Inside the survey, 35% of the people participating met the criteria for those who have sleep patterns of an unhealthy nature. These participants with known sleep issues had a quick decline in overall brain size and/or volume over a certain time period when compared to those in the study who got quality sleep on a regular basis. These results actually showed more significance in the participants who were over the age of 60.
Sleep is important and the impact that it can have on the brain has been shown in a wide variety of studies. As a matter of fact, studies show that brain disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s are quite often attributed to poor sleep patterns. Of course, the natural conclusion is that a consistent lack of sleep can lead to memory loss and the size of the brain would also be affected.
A sleep specialist and neurologist by the name of Dr. Neal Maru working with Alexandria, VA based Integrated Sleep Services stated that lack of sleep can lead to a wide variety of problems. Though he is not associated with the study, he states that improper sleep can also bring on weight issues, poor cardiovascular health and it also impacts memories and the immune system. As studies have shown, one of the possibilities for this can be the building of proteins within the brain that can attack the brain cells.
An author from University of Oxford in the UK named Clair Sexton also added that poor sleep quality may either be a cause of the changes in brain structure or a consequence. Either way, she goes on to say that further research is necessary to determine whether improvement of sleep will slow down the rate of declining brain volume. If this is the case, working on improving sleep habits may be the best way to improve upon the overall health of the brain.
If you or someone you know is having trouble sleeping then sleep apnea may be the culprit. If so, contact our office to schedule an appointment to see if we can help you.