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Is Sleep Quality Tied to Amount of Gray Matter?

Is Sleep Quality Tied to Amount of Gray Matter?Gulf War veterans may help researchers develop new strategies for poor sleep quality and associated psychosocial trauma.

Investigators found an association between poor sleep quality and reduced gray matter volume in the brain’s frontal lobe, which helps control important processes such as working memory and executive function.

“Previous imaging studies have suggested that sleep disturbances may be associated with structural brain changes in certain regions of the frontal lobe,” said lead author Linda Chao, Ph.D.,¬†associate adjunct professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

“The surprising thing about this study is that it suggests poor sleep quality is associated with reduced gray matter volume throughout the entire frontal lobe and also globally in the brain.”

Results show that poorer subjective sleep quality was associated with reduced total cortical and regional frontal lobe gray matter volumes after controlling for potentially confounding variables such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, Gulf War Illness, trauma exposure, and psychotropic medication use.

The study may help explain the link between poor sleep quality and impaired psychosocial, physical and occupational functioning.

“This study emphasizes the importance of seeking medical help if you are troubled by the poor quality of your sleep,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr.

“A board certified sleep medicine physician can identify the cause of your sleep problem and develop an effective treatment plan for you.”

The cross-sectional study was led by senior author Dr. Thomas Neylan, professor in the University of California, San Francisco psychiatry department and director of PTSD research and deputy associate chief of staff for research at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco.

His research team conducted a secondary analysis of imaging and clinical data of 144 Gulf War veterans.

Total cortical, lobar gray matter, and hippocampal volumes were quantified from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and subjective sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

According to the authors, the cross-sectional design of the study did not allow them to determine a causal relationship between sleep and frontal lobe volume.

They noted that additional research is needed to determine if effective treatment of disturbed sleep leads to improved structural and functional integrity of the frontal lobes.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

 
Abstract of brain photo by shutterstock.

Is Sleep Quality Tied to Amount of Gray Matter?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Is Sleep Quality Tied to Amount of Gray Matter?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/04/is-sleep-quality-tied-to-amount-of-gray-matter/66655.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.