The Effects Of Sleep On The Brain

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A recent news article on CNN, Lack of Sleep May Shrink Your Brain, cites a research study suggesting that insomnia and other reasons for sleep deprivation may reduce brain mass. Although the study was correlational, the author of the news article focuses mostly on one of the three possible relations between sleep and brain mass: lack of sleep may cause shrinking of the brain. Only at the end of article, the author mentions that shrinking of the brain may cause lack of sleep, but completely disregards the third possibility that a third variable may cause both the shrinking of the brain and lack of sleep. The research study cited in the news article was published in Neurology and was titled Poor Sleep Quality is Associated with Increased…show more content…
The 147 participants were recruiting from the ongoing study of Cognition and Plasticity through the Lifespan at the Research Group for Lifespan Changes in Brain and Cognition at the University of Oslo. Participants were administered MRI scans twice throughout the study with an average of three years between the first and second scan. Participants’ sleep quality was evaluated using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory (PSQI) an average of 1.3 years after both MRI scans were completed. The PSQI is a self-rated survey various aspects of sleep over the duration of one month. Physical activity, BMI, and blood pressure were assessed only during the time of the second MRI scan. Physical activity was assessed using International Physical Activity Questionnaire, BMI was calculated by measuring the height and weight, and blood pressure was recorded as the average of two readings. Cross sectional and longitudinal analyses were conducted to determine any correlations. One limitation of the methods used in this study is the delay of PSQI test by an average of 1.3 years after the second MRI scan. Although studies by Knutson KL, et al. have shown the consistency of the PSQI, they only tested consistency for up to one year (2006). Furthermore, the results would have been more accurate if supplemental sleep tests were administered in addition to the PSQI to cover for the PSQI’s deficiency Buysse DJ, et al. found in measuring sleep quality objectively
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