If you've not been getting adequate sleep, here's a reason to worry. A new Oxford study establishes a link between sleep difficulties and the volume of your brain. According to the research published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, sleep difficulties may cause a more rapid decline in brain volumes. In simpler words, poor quality sleep may lead to a long-term loss of gray matter. However, whether sleeping difficulties are a cause of shrinking of the brain or the outcome of it, is not known. "It is not yet known whether poor sleep quality is a cause or consequence of changes in brain structure," said study author Claire E Sexton, with the University of Oxford in the UK.The researchers explained that while we are asleep, processes that repair and restore the brain are activated. If your sleep is disrupted, these processes are also interrupted which may lead to a greater decline in brain volume. For the study, the scientists conducted experiments on 147 adults ageing 20 and 84 years. All the participants underwent a couple of MRI scans almost 3.5 years apart, before completing a questionnaire about their sleep habits.A total of 35 per cent of the participants met the criteria for poor sleep quality, scoring an average of 8.5 out of 21 points on the sleep assessment. The participants were assessed on the duration of their sleep, time taken to fall asleep, use of any sleep inducing drugs or medication and other factors. The results were more pronounced in older people ageing over 60 years.
Inputs from PTI
"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," said Sexton.
Inputs from PTI
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