Poor Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to keep the brain healthy, a new study has found.

Researchers found that poor sleep quality left a lasting impact on the brain.

People in the study, who faced sleep difficulties like trouble falling asleep or getting a good night’s sleep, had a faster decline in brain volume than people who slept properly.

For analysing the link, researchers studied 147 people aged between 20 and 84. As part of the study, participants completed a sleep questionnaire and also underwent two MRI scans in a gap of 3.5 years.

Researchers analysed the total time participants slept at night and the total time they took to fall asleep and also investigated their dependence on medications for sleeping.

People, mainly those aged above 60, with sleep difficulties had a lesser volume in frontal, temporal and parietal areas of the brain.

“It is not yet known whether poor sleep quality is a cause or consequence of changes in brain structure,” author of the study Claire E. Sexton, from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a news release.

“There are effective treatments for sleep problems, so future research needs to test whether improving people’s quality of sleep could slow the rate of brain volume loss. If that is the case, improving people’s sleep habits could be an important way to improve brain health.”

The study, reported in American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal Neurology, backs a study that appeared in the March issue of Sleep journal.

In the study, people with disrupted sleep had less frontal lobe gray matter than people without any sleep problems. Frontal lobe, one of main lobes of the cerebral cortex, contains dopamine-sensitive neurons that regulate short-term memory, planning, motivation, attention and reward.

Similarly, several studies in the past have linked poor sleep to prostate cancer, depression, heart problems, diabetes, obesity, poor memory and concentration, caesarean birth, mental disorder schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep is also known to play a major role in clearing toxins and wastes from the brain.