A new study links disrupted sleep to brain aging
The manifestations and problems of aging vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience more severe changes in the gray and white matter of their brain, which can lead to cognitive decline, while others can have milder changes or no change at all. Sleep disturbances are an important risk factor for dementia and could contribute to these changes, but previous studies have provided inconsistent results, according to Psypost.
Bad and interrupted sleep
In a recent study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, researchers used multiple imaging techniques to explore how the brain relates to aging and sleep problems. They found that poor sleep quality and disrupted sleep are associated with accelerated brain aging, highlighting the importance of addressing sleep problems to maintain brain health in the elderly.
Sleep and MRI measurements
The study, conducted by researchers from the Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham, UK, included fifty healthy older volunteers, aged 65 or over. Participants underwent a two-week comprehensive sleep metrics assessment using charts and wrist-worn devices to monitor sleep-wake patterns and self-assess their sleep quality before undergoing an MRI session.
Associated independent component analysis
Using a method called correlative independent component analysis to analyze complex data from the brain, researchers discovered that as people age and experience sleep problems such as poor sleep quality or fragmented sleep, there is a decline in gray matter and white matter microstructure, highlighting the potential impact of sleep disorders. Sleep on the aging brain.
Two years older than the actual age
Also, by applying a technique to estimate the difference between a person's chronological age and brain age based on MRI data, the researchers found a significant association between poor sleep quality and accelerated brain aging, meaning that the brain looked about two years older than its actual age.
The findings highlight the importance of considering the effects of sleep problems on brain health as we age. By improving sleep quality and treating sleep disorders, there could be potential to mitigate the risks of cognitive decline and preserve healthier brains in later years.
The findings of the study, titled "The Relationship between Insufficient Sleep and Accelerated Brain Aging", represent an important step forward in understanding the relationship between sleep problems and brain aging, highlighting the potential impact of addressing sleep problems on maintaining brain health in the elderly.
The authors concluded that "given recent evidence that a deviation of a few years from standard brain aging is a hallmark of dementia, it is likely that sleep problems in healthy older adults should be considered a modifiable risk factor for dementia."
The findings also suggest the potential of a behavioral intervention to combat the effects of insufficient sleep on the aging brain.
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