Study Finds Lack Of Sleep May Lead To Brain Shrinkage

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Study Finds Lack Of Sleep May Lead To Brain Shrinkageimage © Triff –

Getting little sleep or “pulling all-nighters” may actually be normal for some people due to work, school or just a raging party lifestyle. People think that they can accomplish more activities whenever they do an all-nighter: compromising sleep in order to tick off other things on their to-do list.

This notion is actually counterproductive because of the “payback”. Lack of sleep burns you out; impairing attention and alertness, making it difficult to concentrate on daily activities. It might even cause accidents.

But more than impaired attention, new studies suggest that sleep deprivation may lead to brain shrinkage and other serious health consequences. In short, you’ll accomplish more in a lifetime if you play “the long game”, taking care of yourself and optimizing your overall energy levels.

Brain Shrinkage Study

A study conducted by Claire Sexton, DPhil et. al. found that poor sleep quality may affect the size of your brain. Out of the 147 adults between the ages of 20 to 87 years old, 35% that had poor sleep quality had a reduced volume within the major brain regions throughout the study than those who had adequate sleep. [1]

During sleep, your brain removes toxic waste, allowing your brain to clear out the protein buildup that attacks the brain cells. [2] Without enough sleep, your neurons will begin to deteriorate which will cause further health problems and may even accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. [3]

“There are effective treatments for sleep problems, so future research needs to test whether improving people’s quality of sleep could slow the rate of brain volume loss. If that is the case, improving people’s sleep habits could be an important way to improve brain health,” says Claire Sexton. [4]

Obesity And Diabetes

Getting less sleep, insufficient physical activity, and high caloric intake all contribute to obesity. According to The National Sleep Foundation, about 65% of Americans are now overweight or obese because of inadequate sleep and an unhealthy lifestyle. [5]

Diabetes and sleeping patterns are closely linked, as several research states that people who suffer from sleeping disorders, such as insomnia, have higher insulin resistance and find it more difficult to manage their diabetes. [6] Insulin resistance is a condition where the body produces insulin but fails to use it effectively.

Tips To Improve Sleep [7]

1. Turn off all the lights. Sleeping in total darkness stimulates the adequate production of melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep cycles.

2. Find the appropriate room temperature for you. An extremely cold or hot room temperature can prevent your core temperature from reaching its ideal place for a good sleep.

3. Avoid using TV and computer before bedtime. The screens emit blue light which is similar to daylight, tricking your body that it’s still daytime and suppresses melatonin production. You can also get special UV-eliminating eyewear that counters this effect – wear these in the late evening if using a computer or mobile device and you should find that you are able to ‘switch off your brain’ more easily.

4. Take a hot bath. A hot bath, in addition to relaxing the muscles, raises and lowers your body temperature abruptly, making you feel drowsy and ready to sleep.

5. Keep your gadgets away from the bed. Cellphones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets emit electromagnetic waves which may disrupt melatonin production.


[1] Fortenbury, J. 2014. Sleep Deprivation May Shrink The Brain, Study Suggests.

[2] Xie, L. et al. 2013. Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain.

[3] Meco, A. 2014. Sleep Deprivation Impairs Memory, Tau Metabolism, and Synaptic Integrity of a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease With Plaques and Tangles.

[4] Willingham, V. 2015. Lack of Sleep May Shrink Your Brain.

[5] Obesity and Sleep.

[6] Poor Sleep Raises Diabetic Insulin Levels, According to Study.,-according-to-study-99880077.html

[7] Mercola, J. 2014. Lack of Sleep May Lead to Brain Shrinkage.

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