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As suggested by previous research, sleep health is assumed to be a key determinant of future morbidity and mortality. In line with this, recent studies have found that poor sleep is associated with impaired cognitive function. However, to date, little is known about brain structural abnormalities underlying this association. Although recent findings link sleep health deficits to specific alterations in grey matter volume, evidence remains inconsistent and reliant on small sample sizes. Addressing this problem, the current preregistered study investigated associations between sleep health and grey matter volume (139 imaging-derived phenotypes) in the UK Biobank cohort (33 356 participants). Drawing on a large sample size and consistent data acquisition, sleep duration, insomnia symptoms, daytime sleepiness, chronotype, sleep medication and sleep apnoea were examined. Our main analyses revealed that long sleep duration was systematically associated with larger grey matter volume of basal ganglia substructures. Insomnia symptoms, sleep medication and sleep apnoea were not associated with any of the 139 imaging-derived phenotypes. Short sleep duration, daytime sleepiness as well as late and early chronotype were associated with solitary imaging-derived phenotypes (no recognizable pattern, small effect sizes). To our knowledge, this is the largest study to test associations between sleep health and grey matter volume. Clinical implications of the association between long sleep duration and larger grey matter volume of basal ganglia are discussed. Insomnia symptoms as operationalized in the UK Biobank do not translate into grey matter volume findings.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Commun

Publication Date





UK Biobank, basal ganglia, grey matter volume, sleep duration, sleep health