Insomnia Linked to Shrinking Brains

Decision-making part of the brain less dense in chronic insomniacs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2010 8:09 AM CST
Insomnia Linked to Shrinking Brains
Chronic insomniacs may suffer from impaired decision-making capabilities, according to new research.   (Shutter Stock)

In news unlikely to make insomniacs rest any easier, a study has linked sleepless nights to loss of gray matter for the first time. Neurologists using brain imaging technology found that chronic insomniacs had significantly lower brain density in the parts of the brain responsible for resting and decision-making. They were unable to determine whether insomnia causes lower brain density, or if it's the other way around.

The research, conducted on older patients and adjusted for other factors that may cause a loss of brain density, fits with other evidence showing that "bad sleep is bad for the brain at a neurological level, not just the psychiatric level as a nuisance," one neurologist tells Discovery. Experts believe this study and similar research will help pave the way for more diverse and accurate treatments for chronic insomnia.
(Read more brain stories.)

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