According to a study, getting too much or too little sleep is linked to brain alterations that have been found to raise the risk of dementia and stroke in later life.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, concentrated on two indicators of brain health: fractional anisotropy, which gauges the homogeneity of water diffusion along nerve axons, and matter hyper intensities (WMH), which are lesions on the brain that indicate brain ageing.
Higher fractional anisotropy, larger WMH, and more WMH are linked to a higher risk of dementia and stroke.
“Significant illnesses such as stroke or dementia are the final outcome of an extended and sadly ending process,” stated Santiago Clocchiatti-Tuozzo, a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University’s School of Medicine in the United States.
“We want to learn how to prevent these processes before they happen.”
The researchers analysed the brain scans of over 40,000 middle-aged, healthy participants in one of the biggest neuroimaging studies to date in order to assess the potential effects of sleeping patterns on two different brain health metrics.
Researchers discovered that those who slept for shorter periods of time had lower fractional anisotropy, a bigger WMH volume when WMH was present, and a higher likelihood of WMH presence as compared to those who slept for 7-9 hours per night.
More than nine hours of sleep on average per night was linked to a bigger WMH volume and a lower fractional anisotropy, but not to a higher probability of WMH existence.
According to Clocchiatti-Tuozzo, “these results add to the growing body of evidence that sleep is a prime pillar of brain health.”
“It also provides evidence towards helping us understand how sleep and sleep duration can be a modifiable risk factor for brain health later in life.”
According to researchers, the study emphasises that changing our sleeping patterns during middle age is crucial for maintaining brain function.
According to Clocchiatti-Tuozzo, “sleep is starting to become a trending topic.”
“We hope this study and others can offer insight into how we can modify sleep in patients to improve brain health in years to come.”