Poorer sleep impairs brain health at midlife

Sci Rep. 2023 Feb 1;13(1):1874. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-27913-9.


Sleep is an emerging risk factor for dementia but its association with brain health remains unclear. This study included UK Biobank (n = 29,545; mean age = 54.65) participants at imaging visit with sleep measures and brain scans, and a subset (n = 14,206) with cognitive measures. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to study the associations between sleep and brain health. Every additional hour of sleep above 7 h/day was associated with 0.10-0.25% lower brain volumes. In contrast, a negative non-linear association was observed between sleep duration, grey matter, and hippocampal volume. Both longer (> 9 h/day) and shorter sleep (< 6 h/day) durations were associated with lower brain volumes and cognitive measures (memory, reaction time, fluid intelligence). Additionally, daytime dozing was associated with lower brain volumes (grey matter and left hippocampus volume) and lower cognitive measures (reaction time and fluid intelligence). Poor sleep (< 6 h/day, > 9 h/day, daytime dozing) at midlife was associated with lower brain health. Sleep may be an important target to improve brain health into old age and delay the onset of dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Dementia* / etiology
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep