A new brain research study shows that with less sleep, normal aged related structural changes possibly happen in the brain and progress somewhat faster in middle-aged and older individuals. Sleep troubles become more common as people age, and the decrease of certain brain structures is common but for study participants over age 55, those changes could be seen happening slightly with every less hour of sleep each night.
Dr. June Lo, who was the research lead and also works with Duke Graduate Medical School, stated that past research had shown that lack of sleep could cause a person’s thinking to become incoherent and also create short term memory loss. Amid older adults, sleeping less might increase the rate their brains age and also speed up decline in cognitive functions.
She added that studies have repeatedly shown in the past decade that in younger adults, both brain and cognitive functions are affected when the individuals did not receive enough sleep. Because of that, Dr. Lo and her team wanted to find out if sleeping less affected brain and cognitive aging in older adults.
There has been less research studies performed which examined the physical changes in the brain and their connection to sleep over time, the report pointed out and none had been done for older adults. In order to rate the effects of sleep duration on both thinking and brain structure, the research group looked over information gathered on healthy individuals age 55 and over who participated in the Singapore Aging Brain Study.
Lo and her team studied information from nearly 70 Chinese adults who had formerly undergone MRI scans that measured brain volume in explicit areas and had also taken tests that accessed their cognitive skills. The researchers then used surveys to determine the participants’ sleep length and quality, and measured blood levels of high sensitive C-reactive protein. It is a gauge of inflammation.
When the cognitive examinations and scans were repeated two years after the first round, the research group discovered that participants who slept less hours showed evidence of having earlier brain shrinkage and deterioration in cognitive performance. Every less hour that volunteers slept, on average, the decline in cognitive performance went up by 0.67 percent, although the research group stated that the results were flexible and should be considered initial only.
The study was unable to prove that total sleep time was behind the changes observed. Even though the study subjects were free of any major diseases, the researchers were not able to determine if other factors might have played a part and could have affected the results.
Dr. Lo stated that some have suggested that sleep loss intensifies inflammation which has a negative effect on the brain. It has also been proposed that short sleep is linked to other medical conditions which could accelerate brain aging. She added that people need to realize that sleep is crucial for numerous physiological functions, such as cell and memory repair.
She also said that if people realize that there is negative health consequences due to loss of sleep could encourage some to get more sleep. If a person practices good sleep hygiene, that might help improve the quality and amount of overall sleep. The brain research study showed that with a smaller amount of sleep, normal aged related structural changes in the brain progress somewhat faster in middle-aged and older individuals.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Chicago Tribune