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brainWhile all of our brains get smaller as we get older, a startling new study shows that the amount of sleep we get — or the lack thereof — could affect how fast they shrink, particularly in people over 60 years old.

“We found that sleep difficulties (for example, trouble falling asleep, waking up during the night, or waking up too early) were associated with an increased rate of decline in brain volume over 3 [to] 5 years,” lead researcher Claire Sexton, DPhil, with the University of Oxford, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “Many factors have previously been linked with the rate of change in brain volume over time — including physical activity, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Our study indicates that sleep is also an important factor.”

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, is an associative one, which means it doesn’t show whether sleep causes rapid brain shrinkage or if a rapidly shrinking brain results in poorer sleep. Still, Sexton said future research based on her findings could encourage people to take their sleep schedule more seriously.

“In [the] future, we would like to investigate whether improving sleep can help slow decline in brain volume,” wrote Sexton. “If so, this could be an important way to improve brain health.”

 

For the study, Sexton evaluated 147 adults between 20 and 84 years old. They all underwent two MRI brain scans an average of 3.5 years apart. They also answered a survey about their sleep quality.

Among the participants, 35 percent had poor sleep quality (which considers factors like how long it takes to fall asleep at night or sleeping pill use, among other things). Sexton found that their brain scans showed a more rapid decrease in the frontal, temporal and parietal parts of the brain.

The frontal lobe regulates decision-making, emotions and movement, while the parietal lobe is where letters and words combine into thoughts, according to theNational Institutes of Health. Meanwhile, the temporal lobe is associated with memory and learning.

Sexton’s research echoes other recent studies on sleep and the aging brain. A study from a group of scientists from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore was published last July that found people who slept fewer hours had brains that aged faster than the controls (in this study, it was demonstrated with brain ventricle enlargement, which is a marker for cognitive decline). Another study, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in New York, found that the decline of a certain cluster of neurons was associated with higher rates of disrupted sleep in adults over 65. The effect was even more pronounced in study participants with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Louis Ptacek, M.D., a neurology professor and sleep expert at UC San Francisco, praised Sexton’s “reasonable” and “sound” study for controlling for factors like BMI and physical activity, which are known to affect sleep habits. But he also said the study’s findings, while interesting, are not surprising.

“We know, for example, that in many neurodegenerative diseases, you get all kinds of sleep problems,” Ptacek told HuffPost. “It’s not 100 percent uniform, but we know that Alzheimer’s patients, dementia patients and Parkinson’s patients all have different kinds of sleep phenotypes.”

It’s not surprising that bad sleep is associated with decreased size or increased atrophy in different parts of the brain — “in fact, I would have predicted that,” Ptacek said. “But of course, these investigators did the study and proved it.”

Ptacek hopes that as more research on the importance of sleep emerges, the public will begin to prioritize sleep seriously as another aspect of health, as opposed to thinking of it as an inconvenience or something to shortchange. We still have a long way to go, both in recognizing how vital sleep is to well-being and in funding more research on the mechanisms of sleep, he said.

“We all spend a third of our lives doing it, and yet, the understanding of the importance of good quality sleep to our health is sort of where tobacco and smoking was 40 years ago,” said Ptacek. ” We know almost nothing about sleep at a basic mechanistic level: What is sleep really, and why do we do it?”

Even in 2014, “no one has any idea about the answers to these questions,” he said.

 

 

 

Thanks to JD

 

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If your answer is:
Chimpanzee = you’re dull.
Giraffe = you’re a moron.
Lion = you’re a complete idiot.
Squirrel = you’re just hopelessly stupid.

A COCONUT TREE DOESN’T HAVE BANANAS.
Obviously, you’re stressed and overworked.
You should take some time off and relax!
Try again next year.

 

Thanks to SmS

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Thanks to DM, HW, and…

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The North American landmark that is constantly moving backward is…
NIAGARA FALLS. The rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.

n.b. the Niagara Falls photos are now here

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Frost forms INSIDE of the window, not the outside.
Therefore, Mr. Fiend could not have wiped it off to discover Mr. Teddy’s body
.

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He shot his reflection in the bathroom mirror.

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It was the Maid. She said she was getting the mail but there is no mail delivery on Sunday.

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We ARE getting old!

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(10-16 points) You are GARFIELD:
You are very comfortable, easy going, and you definitely know how to have fun but sometimes you take it to an extreme. You always know what you are doing and you are always in control of your life. Others may not see things as you do, but that doesn’t mean that you always have to do what is right. Try to remember, your happy spirit may hurt you or others.

(17-23 points) You are SNOOPY:
You are fun; you are very cool and popular. You always know what’s in and you are never are out of style. You are good at knowing how to satisfy everyone else. You have probably disappeared for a few days more than once, but you always come home with the family values that you learned. Being married and having children are important to you, but only after you have had your share of fun times

(24-28 points) You are ELMO:
You have lots of friends and you are also popular, always willing to give advice and help out a person in need. You are very optimistic and you always see the bright side of things. Some good advice: try not to be too much of a dreamer. Dreaming too big could cause many conflicts in your life.

(29-35 points) You are SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS:

You are the classic person that everyone loves. You are the best friend that anyone could ever have and never wants to lose. You never cause harm to anyone and they would never not understand your feelings. Life is a journey; it’s funny and calm for the most part. Stay away from traitors and jealous people, and you will be stress free.

(36-43 points) You are CHARLIE BROWN:
You are tender, you fall in love quickly but you are also very serious about all relationships. You are a family person. You call your Mom every Sunday. You have many friends and may occasionally forget a few birthdays. Don’t let your passion confuse you with reality.

(44-50 points) You are DEXTER:

You are smart and definitely a thinker. Every situation is fronted with a plan. You have a brilliant mind. You demonstrate very strong family principles. You maintain a stable routine but never ignore a bad situation when it comes. Try to do less over thinking every once in a while to spice things up a bit with spontaneity!

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