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OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between sleep quality and cortical and hippocampal volume and atrophy within a community-based sample, explore the influence of age on results, and assess the possible confounding effects of physical activity levels, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure. METHODS: In 147 community-dwelling adults (92 female; age 53.9 ± 15.5 years), sleep quality was measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and correlated with cross-sectional measures of volume and longitudinal measures of atrophy derived from MRI scans separated by an average of 3.5 years. Exploratory post hoc analysis compared correlations between different age groups and included physical activity, BMI, and blood pressure as additional covariates. RESULTS: Poor sleep quality was associated with reduced volume within the right superior frontal cortex in cross-sectional analyses, and an increased rate of atrophy within widespread frontal, temporal, and parietal regions in longitudinal analyses. Results were largely driven by correlations within adults over the age of 60, and could not be explained by variation in physical activity, BMI, or blood pressure. Sleep quality was not associated with hippocampal volume or atrophy. CONCLUSIONS: We found that longitudinal measures of cortical atrophy were widely correlated with sleep quality. Poor sleep quality may be a cause or a consequence of brain atrophy, and future studies examining the effect of interventions that improve sleep quality on rates of atrophy may hold key insights into the direction of this relationship.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





967 - 973


Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Atrophy, Blood Pressure, Body Mass Index, Brain Diseases, Cerebral Cortex, Cross-Sectional Studies, Exercise, Female, Hippocampus, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Organ Size, Residence Characteristics, Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders, Young Adult