Study shows link between lack of sleep and small brain size

Study shows link between lack of sleep and small brain size

A new study published in the online medical journal Neurology shows a connection between a lack of sleep and rapid brain shrinkage. 

According to The Huffington Post, the study, conducted by scientists at the University of Oxford, determined that people with sleep problems, such as waking up in the middle of the night or having a hard time falling sleep, had a higher rate of brain volume decline in a three- to five-year period. 

The study 
According to Forbes magazine, the study involved looking at the sleep patterns of 147 adults between the ages of 20 and 84. The researchers took magnetic resonance imaging scans of each participant three-and-a-half years apart. The source noted that 35 percent of the subjects logged in poor sleeping habits. This percentage of the group also experienced shrinkage in their parietal, frontal and temporal brain regions. Participants over the age of 60 had the most severe shrinkage.

The National Institutes of Health noted that these brain regions serve important functions – the parietal lobe controls words and thoughts, the frontal lobe controls emotions and decisions, and the temporal lobe regulates learning and memory. 

What it means 
While these findings are certainly interesting, it's important to view them as associative, noted Forbes. This means that sleeping poorly doesn't necessarily cause brain shrinkage – it could be the other way around, or there could be other factors at play. The source reported that declining brain size has been previously associated with lack of exercise, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The Huffington Post reported, however, that recent sleep studies done at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore and Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in New York resulted in similar outcomes. 

Keep your brain healthy 
According to The Mayo Clinic, a healthy amount of sleep for adults is between seven and eight hours per night. In addition to getting the recommended amount of rest, there are other steps you should take to keep your brain healthy. The Alzheimer's Association advised incorporating exercise, social and cognitive activities into your regular routine to maintain cerebral blood flow and mental stimulation. The source also recommended eating a healthy diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids

A good way to get brain-boosting omega-3s is through a supplement. Omax3 is the premium supplement available on today's market. It contains an impressive 91 percent concentrated omega-3, perfect for feeding a healthy brain.

Essential takeaways 

  • A study published in Neurology linked problems sleeping with declining brain volume. 
  • Sleep is essential for a healthy brain, along with exercise, social and mental activities. 
  • Eating omega-3s also contribute to a healthy brain. They can be found in the premium supplement Omax3.