Sleep Loss Might Shrink Your Brain

Every month academic journals, universities, and other publications release more evidence to readers that reveal we are more dependent on sleep than previously known. According to a study conducted at the University of Oslo in Norway, it was found that people with disrupted sleep had a decline in brain volume. The gray matter of the human brain makes up the majority of its weight and volume may shrink over time. Over 147 Norwegian adults were studied and those with worse sleep habits had a decrease in brain volume.

The decrease in brain volume was confined to specific areas of the brain. The parts of the brain which were impacted are responsible for aspects of reasoning, planning, memory, and problem solving. Claire Sexton was the primary researcher of this study. She reports, “We spend roughly a third of our lives asleep, and sleep has been proposed to be ‘the brain’s housekeeper’, serving to restore and repair the brain.” The average age of the participants of the study was 54 years old and the participants were rescanned about 3.5 years later.

It is worth noting that the correlation existed with a poor quality of sleep, not shorter sleep. In addition, poor sleepers saw a decrease in brain size no matter their age but those in the over 60 group had the highest losses.

The question remains: Is the volume decrease a result of poor sleep or is poor sleep the result of a volume decrease? While there is evidence of correlation, much is to be found about causation. Because of the evidence found in other studies, we do know that sleep disturbance has further reaching effects on the body than we have previously thought. Good sleep habits can change your quality of sleep and prepare your body for each new day.

Once again, scientists and physicians are faced with more facts showing us that “There is growing data to suggest that sleep disturbance may be a risk factor for poor outcomes in terms of brain cells and other medical issues as well…Good sleep matters.” If you are concerned about your individual sleep habits or are worried about your difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, schedule an appointment with the sleep doctors at FusionSleep. It is our job to help you sleep better.