It would seem that poor sleep quality really can have a negative effect on our brains. Not only can it destroy brain cells and affect brain function, it would appear that poor sleep quality can also shrink our brains.
Researchers scanned the brains of 147 Norwegian adults with an average age of 54 at the start of their study and again 3.5 years later.
They found that after adjusting for other known sleep disturbance factors (such as BMI, blood pressure and physical activity), the brains of individuals who experienced poor sleep quality showed shrinkage in the frontal cortex and deterioration in 3 other areas.
These areas included parts of the brain that are responsible for planning, reasoning, memory and problem solving.
It's worth mentioning that researchers did not test the thinking skills of the participants in this study - so there is no evidence that poor sleep or brain shrinkage is responsible for poor memory or thinking difficulties.
That being said, previous studies have found a link between memory decline and reductions in brain volume.
Last updated: November 12, 2014