According to one study, too much or too little sleep is associated with brain changes that have been shown to increase the risk of stroke and dementia later in life.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, focused on two measures of brain health: matter hyperintensities (WMH), which indicate brain aging and lesions in the brain, and fractional anisotropy, which measures the uniformity of water dispersion. nerve axon.
More WMH, larger WMH, and lower fractional anisotropy are associated with increased risk of stroke and dementia. “Conditions like stroke or dementia are the end result of a long process that ends tragically,” said Santiago Clocchiatti-Tuzzo, a post-doctoral fellow at the Yale University School of Medicine in the US. We want to learn how to prevent these processes before they happen.”
In the largest neuroimaging study of its kind to date, the team examined brain images of nearly 40,000 healthy, middle-aged participants to assess how sleep habits might affect two measures of brain health.
The researchers found that compared to optimal sleep (7-9 hours per night), participants with short sleep had a higher risk of WMH presence, greater WMH volume and lower fractional anisotropy of WMH presence. Longer sleep (over 9 hours per night on average) was associated with lower fractional anisotropy and greater WMH volume, but not with increased risk of WMH presence.
“These findings add to the growing body of evidence that sleep is a key pillar of brain health,” Clochiatti-Tuzzo said. “It also provides evidence to help us understand how sleep and sleep duration may be a modifiable risk factor for brain health later in life.”
Researchers say the study highlights middle age as a critical time to adjust our sleep habits to support brain health. “Sleep is starting to become a trending topic,” says Clocchiatti-Tuozzo. “We hope this study and others can provide insight into how we can modify patients’ sleep to improve brain health in the years to come.”