February 28, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
A new study of Gulf War veterans 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. "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. "A board certified sleep medicine physician can identify the cause of your sleep problem and develop an effective treatment plan for you."
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). Multiple linear regressions were used to determine the association of sleep quality with total and regional brain volumes.
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.
Sleep is one of the three key components of health that make up the Performance Triad, Army Medicine's operational approach to help soldiers optimize their own health in order to improve their performance and resiliency.