In a new study, researchers found that good sleep plays a critical role in healing traumatic brain injury.
They used MRI to evaluate the enlargement of perivascular spaces that surround blood vessels in the brain.
Enlargement of these spaces occurs in aging and is linked to the development of dementia.
They found among veterans in the study, those who slept poorly had more evidence of these enlarged spaces and more post-concussive symptoms.
This study suggests sleep may play an important role in clearing waste from the brain after traumatic brain injury.
The research was conducted by a team at Oregon Health & Science University.
The study benefited from a method of analyzing MRIs.
The technique measures changes in the brain’s perivascular spaces, which are part of the brain’s waste clearance system known as the glymphatic system.
The team has led scientific research into the glymphatic system and its role in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
During sleep, this brain-wide network clears away metabolic proteins that would otherwise build up in the brain.
The study used data collected from a group of 56 veterans between 2011 and 2019.
The team says the new technique could be useful for older adults. They can use this method to predict who is going to be at higher risk for cognitive problems including dementia.
The study is the latest in a growing body of research highlighting the importance of sleep in brain health.
Improving sleep is a modifiable habit that can be improved through a variety of methods, including better sleep hygiene habits such as reducing screen time before bed.
One author of the study is Juan Piantino, M.D., MCR, an assistant professor of pediatrics (neurology).
The study is published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.
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