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How Sleep Impacts the Brain

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Dr Oliver Finlay



KEY POINTS

· Sleep is important for maintaining the structure of the brain through synaptic pruning and production of new neurons.

· Acute sleep deprivation leads to negative effects on the brain structure, including decreased volume of the prefrontal cortex and the thickness of the brain's grey matter, and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

· Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to negative effects on the brain structure, including decreased synaptic connections and volume of certain brain regions.

· Sleep is essential for brain function, including memory consolidation, emotion regulation, and cognitive function.

· Acute and chronic sleep deprivation can lead to negative effects on brain function, including decreased cognitive function, increased stress and irritability, and physical effects on the brain such as changes in brain activity patterns and hormone release.




Sleep is an essential physiological process that is required for our overall health and well-being. It is a complex process that involves the interaction of many different systems in the body, including the brain. The relationship between sleep and the structure and function of the brain has been the subject of much research in recent years.


Sleep and Brain Structure

The brain is a complex organ that is responsible for many of the body's functions, including sleep. Sleep is important for maintaining the structure of the brain. During sleep, the brain undergoes a process called synaptic pruning, where unnecessary connections between neurons are eliminated, making the brain more efficient. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to a decrease in the number of synaptic connections in the brain, which can lead to a decrease in cognitive function.


In addition to synaptic pruning, sleep is also important for the production of new neurons in the brain. Studies have shown that sleep is necessary to produce new cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is important for learning and memory. These new cells help to maintain the structure and function of the hippocampus, which is essential for learning and memory.


Acute Sleep Deprivation and Brain Structure

Acute sleep deprivation, which is the lack of sleep for one or two nights, can have negative effects on the structure of the brain. Studies have shown that after just one night of sleep deprivation, there is a decrease in the volume of the prefrontal cortex, which is a region of the brain responsible for decision-making and attention. Additionally, acute sleep deprivation can lead to a decrease in the thickness of the brain's grey matter, which can affect cognitive function and increase the risk of developing neurological disorders.


Research has shown that acute sleep deprivation can also lead to changes in the permeability of the BBB, allowing the entry of substances that are normally restricted. Studies have found that after one night of sleep deprivation, the permeability of the BBB increased in certain regions of the brain, allowing the entry of substances that could potentially cause damage. Additionally, a study in mice found that acute sleep deprivation increased the expression of certain proteins in the BBB, which could contribute to BBB dysfunction.


Chronic Sleep Deprivation and Brain Structure

Studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation can have negative effects on brain structure. The brain undergoes a process called synaptic pruning during sleep, where unnecessary connections between neurons are eliminated, making the brain more efficient. However, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a decrease in the number of synaptic connections in the brain, which can lead to a decrease in cognitive function.


Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to a decrease in the volume of certain brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. These regions are important for cognitive processes such as memory, attention, and decision-making. A decrease in the volume of these regions can lead to long-term cognitive deficits and an increased risk of developing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.


Research has also found that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to damage to the BBB, including increased permeability, inflammation, and oxidative stress, which can consequently contribute to the development of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.



Sleep and Brain Function

Our brains play a vital role in regulating sleep, and sleep, in turn, affects the function of the brain. Sleep is essential for brain function, playing a critical role in many processes, including memory consolidation, emotion regulation, and cognitive function. When we sleep, our brains consolidate and store memories, allowing us to remember important information and experiences.


Sleep also helps regulate our emotions, allowing us to better cope with stress and maintain a positive mood.


In addition to memory consolidation and emotion regulation, sleep is necessary for proper cognitive function. Studies have shown that getting enough sleep is essential for attention, decision-making, problem-solving, and creativity. Lack of sleep can lead to impaired cognitive function, including slower reaction times, reduced attention span, and decreased ability to concentrate.


Acute Sleep Deprivation and Brain Function

Acute sleep deprivation can have negative effects on brain function. Studies have shown that after just one night of sleep deprivation, there is a decrease in cognitive function, including attention span, reaction time, and working memory. Acute sleep deprivation can also lead to an increase in stress and irritability, and it has been linked to depression and anxiety.


Furthermore, acute sleep deprivation can also have physical effects on the brain. Studies have shown that acute sleep deprivation can lead to changes in brain activity patterns, which can affect emotional regulation and decision-making. These changes can also affect the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and infections.


Research has shown that acute sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on hormone release in the body. Specifically, it has been shown to increase the release of the stress hormone cortisol and decrease the release of growth hormone.


Cortisol is a hormone that is released by the body in response to stress. It plays a role in regulating the body's response to stress and can have a significant impact on the immune system, metabolism, and blood pressure. Studies have shown that acute sleep deprivation can increase cortisol levels, which can have a negative impact on the body's overall health.


Growth hormone is another hormone that is released during sleep. It plays a critical role in regulating growth and development, particularly during adolescence. Studies have shown that acute sleep deprivation can decrease the release of growth hormone, which can have a negative impact on growth and development.


Chronic Sleep Deprivation and Brain Function

Chronic sleep deprivation can also have negative effects on brain function. Studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to impaired cognitive function, including memory problems, decreased attention span, and reduced ability to concentrate. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to increased stress and irritability, and it has been linked to depression and anxiety.


Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation can also have physical effects on the brain. Studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to changes in brain activity patterns, which can affect emotional regulation and decision-making. These changes can also affect the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and infections.


Research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on hormone release in the body. Specifically, it has been shown to increase the release of cortisol and decrease the release of several other hormones, including testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone.


Testosterone is a hormone that plays a critical role in regulating sex drive, muscle mass, and bone density in men. Studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation can decrease testosterone levels, which can have a negative impact on overall health.


Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone are hormones that play a critical role in regulating the reproductive system in both men and women. Studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation can decrease the release of these hormones, which can have a negative impact on fertility and reproductive health.



Actions to Reduce the Effects of Acute Sleep Deprivation on Brain Structure and Function

Whilst acute sleep deprivation can have negative effects on the structure and function of the brain, there are actions we can take and substances we can use to reduce the effects of acute sleep deprivation on the brain.


One of the best ways to reduce the effects of acute sleep deprivation on brain structure and function is to prioritize sleep and get enough sleep. Studies have shown that even a short nap can improve cognitive function and reduce the negative effects of acute sleep deprivation. Additionally, regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function and protect the brain against the negative effects of acute sleep deprivation.


Other actions that can help reduce the effects of acute sleep deprivation include staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and reducing stress levels. Staying hydrated helps to improve cognitive function, while caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep and worsen the negative effects of acute sleep deprivation. Reducing stress levels through mindfulness practices or relaxation techniques can also help improve cognitive function.


Substances to Reduce the Effects of Acute Sleep Deprivation on Brain Structure and Function

There are also substances that can help reduce the effects of acute sleep deprivation on brain structure and function. Whilst caffeine can interfere with sleep and exacerbate the negative effects of acute sleep deprivation, it can help improve alertness and cognitive function in the short term. However, it is important to use caffeine in moderation, as too much can lead to jitteriness and anxiety.


Another substance that can help reduce the effects of acute sleep deprivation is the prescription drug modafinil, a medication that promotes wakefulness and improves cognitive function. However, modafinil should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider.


Actions to Reduce the Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation on Brain Structure and Function

Chronic sleep deprivation can have negative effects on the structure and function of the brain. However, there are actions we can take and substances we can use to reduce the effects of chronic sleep deprivation on the brain.



Regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function and protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation. Additionally, stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga can help improve sleep quality and reduce the negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation on brain function.Supplementing nighttime sleep with naps can also help reduce the impact on brain structure and function.


Melatonin is a substance that can help improve sleep quality and reduce the negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation on the brain. However, it is important to use melatonin only under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Melatonin supplements can help regulate sleep-wake cycles and improve sleep quality, Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by the body to regulate sleep-wake cycles, and taking a supplement can help regulate sleep patterns. However, melatonin should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider and is not a long-term solution to sleep deprivation, as research has identified several potential negative impacts of long term supplementation that should be considered.


Melatonin supplements can disrupt the body's natural production of the hormone. When the body is exposed to artificial melatonin, it may stop producing its own melatonin, leading to dependence on supplements to regulate sleep. Additionally, melatonin supplements can have a negative impact on cognitive function, particularly in the elderly. Studies have shown that high doses of melatonin can impair memory, attention, and learning. Melatonin supplements can also have a negative impact on mood, with some studies showing that high doses of melatonin can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, melatonin supplements can interact with other medications, particularly those that affect the central nervous system, which can lead to adverse effects and should be taken with caution.


In the short-term, it must also be remembered that melatonin supplements can cause drowsiness, making it unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery, therefore, it is important to take melatonin supplements only at night and avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until the effects have worn off.


L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in green tea. It has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain, helping to reduce stress and improve relaxation. Studies have also found that L-theanine can reduce the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the brain.


One way that L-theanine can help is by increasing alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves are associated with relaxation and can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. When the brain is deprived of sleep, it can be more difficult to achieve a relaxed state, and alpha waves may be decreased. By increasing alpha waves, L-theanine can help to counteract the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

L-theanine also has neuroprotective properties, which means it can help to protect the brain from damage caused by sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that L-theanine can increase the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the growth and survival of neurons in the brain. This can help to counteract the negative effects of sleep deprivation on brain function and prevent long-term damage.


Another way that L-theanine can help is by improving sleep quality. When we are sleep deprived, our sleep quality can suffer, leading to decreased cognitive function and mood. Studies have shown that L-theanine can improve the quality of sleep by increasing the amount of time spent in deep sleep, reducing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and improving overall sleep efficiency.



Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat that are commonly found in fish, nuts, and seeds. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the brain in several ways.


Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase inflammation in the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline and mood changes. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the brain and prevent long-term damage.


Another way that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the negative impacts of sleep deprivation on the brain is by improving cognitive function. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can improve memory and cognitive function in both healthy adults and those with cognitive impairment. This can be especially helpful for those who are sleep deprived and experiencing cognitive decline.


Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to regulate mood and reduce the risk of depression. Sleep deprivation is associated with increased feelings of anxiety and depression, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have a positive effect on mood regulation. They can help to reduce symptoms of depression and improve overall emotional well-being.


Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions, including brain function and research has shown that magnesium can help to reduce the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the brain in several ways.


Sleep deprivation can cause stress and anxiety, which can have a negative impact on brain function. However, magnesium can help to relax the body and reduce stress, which can improve sleep quality and overall brain function.


Another way that magnesium can help is by regulating the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body's internal clock that regulates sleep and wake cycles. Whilst sleep deprivation can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which can lead to further sleep problems and cognitive decline, magnesium can help to regulate the circadian rhythm, which can improve sleep quality and cognitive function.


Additionally, studies have shown that magnesium can improve memory and cognitive function and may even have neuroprotective effects. This can be especially helpful for those who are sleep deprived and experiencing cognitive decline.



Strategies to Improve Sleep Quality

Getting quality sleep is important for both the structure and function of the brain, which in turn is critical for optimal brain function and cognitive performance. The current scientific literature suggests several strategies that can be employed to improve the quality of sleep and maximize the positive effects of sleep on the structure and function of the brain.


1. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule - Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is one of the most effective strategies for improving sleep quality. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends, can help regulate the body's internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.


2. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment - Creating a comfortable sleep environment is also important for improving sleep quality. This includes ensuring the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows can also make a big difference in the quality of sleep.


3. Avoid Stimulating Activities Before Bed - Engaging in stimulating activities before bed, such as watching TV or using electronic devices, can interfere with sleep quality. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. To improve sleep quality, it is recommended to avoid stimulating activities for at least an hour before bedtime.


4. Exercise Regularly - Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, particularly when done earlier in the day. Exercise can help regulate the body's internal clock and increase the amount of deep sleep, which is important for brain function. Engaging in relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can improve the quality of sleep. Studies have shown that relaxation techniques can also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are commonly associated with sleep disturbances.


5. Reduce Stress - Stress can interfere with sleep quality and negatively impact brain function. Engaging in stress-reducing activities, such as meditation or yoga, can help improve sleep quality and reduce the negative effects of stress on the brain.


6. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake - Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep quality and negatively impact brain function. It is recommended to limit caffeine intake, particularly in the afternoon and evening, and to avoid alcohol before bedtime.


Conclusion

In conclusion, adequate sleep is critical for optimal brain function and cognitive performance. By maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, engaging in relaxation techniques, increasing physical activity, and reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, individuals can improve the quality of their sleep and maximize the positive effects of sleep on the structure and function of the brain. Prioritizing sleep is essential for overall health and well-being and should be a priority for everyone.



REFERENCES & EVALUATION OF SCIENTIFIC POWER

Alhaider, I.A., Aleisa, A.M., Tran, T.T., Alzoubi, K.H. and Alkadhi, K.A., 2010. Chronic caffeine treatment prevents sleep deprivation-induced impairment of cognitive function and synaptic plasticity. Sleep, 33(4), pp.437-444.


OVERVIEW: Alhaider et al. (2010) investigated the effects of chronic caffeine treatment on cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in sleep-deprived rats. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that caffeine can prevent the negative effects of sleep deprivation on brain function.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established animal model of sleep deprivation and cognitive testing, which allowed for controlled experimental conditions. The researchers used a variety of cognitive tests to assess memory and learning, and also examined changes in synaptic plasticity, which is an important process for learning and memory.

The study found that chronic caffeine treatment prevented the negative effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in rats. These findings suggest that caffeine may be a potential treatment option for individuals who suffer from sleep deprivation-induced cognitive impairment.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the study is that it was conducted on rats, and therefore may not directly translate to humans. Additionally, the study did not investigate the potential negative effects of chronic caffeine treatment, such as addiction or tolerance.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG -The study used a well-established animal model and conducted multiple cognitive tests to assess brain function. However, the findings may not directly translate to humans, and the study did not investigate the potential negative effects of chronic caffeine treatment. Overall, the study by Alhaider et al. (2010) provides evidence that chronic caffeine treatment may prevent the negative effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in rats. While the findings may not directly translate to humans, they suggest that caffeine may be a potential treatment option for sleep-deprived individuals. Future studies should investigate the potential negative effects of chronic caffeine treatment and its efficacy in humans.



Alhola, P. and Polo-Kantola, P., 2007. Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 3(5), pp.553-567.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. The authors review various studies that investigate the effects of sleep deprivation on different aspects of cognitive performance, including attention, working memory, and decision-making. They also discuss the potential mechanisms that may contribute to these negative effects, such as changes in brain activity and impaired neuronal communication.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance, making it a valuable resource for researchers and healthcare professionals. The authors also discuss the potential mechanisms underlying the negative effects of sleep deprivation, which can help inform future research and treatment approaches.

LIMITATIONS: The article focuses primarily on the negative effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance and does not discuss potential interventions or strategies to mitigate these effects. Additionally, while the authors review a wide range of studies, many of them have small sample sizes or other methodological limitations, which may limit the generalisability of the findings.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The authors draw on a wide range of studies from different disciplines and provide a comprehensive review of the literature. However, the limitations of some of the studies included in the review may affect the strength of the overall conclusions. Overall, this article highlights the importance of sleep for cognitive performance and emphasizes the need for future research to explore potential interventions or strategies to mitigate the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the brain.



Alperin, N., Wiltshire, J., Lee, S.H., Ramos, A.R., Hernandez-Cardenache, R., Rundek, T., Curiel Cid, R. and Loewenstein, D., 2019. Effect of sleep quality on amnestic mild cognitive impairment vulnerable brain regions in cognitively normal elderly individuals. Sleep, 42(3), p.zsy254.


OVERVIEW: The study aimed to investigate the relationship between sleep quality and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) vulnerable brain regions in cognitively normal elderly individuals. The researchers used MRI scans to measure the volume of brain regions, including the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and posterior cingulate cortex, in individuals with varying levels of sleep quality. The study found that poor sleep quality was associated with decreased volume in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, which are brain regions vulnerable to aMCI.

STRENGTHS: This study had a large sample size, with 107 cognitively normal elderly individuals participating. The researchers used MRI scans, a reliable method for measuring brain structure, to assess the volume of specific brain regions. The study controlled for factors such as age, gender, education, and depression, which could potentially influence the results.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the study is that it relied on self-reported sleep quality, which may not accurately reflect actual sleep quality. Additionally, the study did not investigate whether poor sleep quality directly causes brain volume changes or whether these changes are a result of some other factor that impacts both sleep quality and brain volume.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - Overall, this study provides evidence for an association between poor sleep quality and decreased brain volume in areas vulnerable to aMCI. However, further research is needed to determine the directionality of this relationship and whether interventions to improve sleep quality could potentially reduce the risk of developing aMCI.



André, C., Tomadesso, C., de Flores, R., Branger, P., Rehel, S., Mézenge, F., Landeau, B., de La Sayette, V., Eustache, F., Chételat, G. and Rauchs, G., 2019. Brain and cognitive correlates of sleep fragmentation in elderly subjects with and without cognitive deficits. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, 11, pp.142-150.


OVERVIEW: This study investigated the effects of sleep fragmentation on brain structure and cognitive function in elderly individuals with and without cognitive deficits. Sleep fragmentation is a condition where individuals wake up frequently during the night and have difficulty maintaining deep sleep. The study aimed to identify the brain regions associated with sleep fragmentation and how these regions are related to cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: The study used a large sample size of 72 elderly participants, which increases the reliability and generalisability of the results. The study also used advanced neuroimaging techniques to examine brain structure and function. Additionally, the study included both cognitively normal individuals and those with cognitive deficits, allowing for a comparison of the effects of sleep fragmentation in these two groups.

LIMITATIONS: The study is limited by its cross-sectional design, which means that cause-and-effect relationships cannot be established. Additionally, the study did not collect data on the participants' sleep quality before the study, which could impact the interpretation of the results.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study had a large sample size and used advanced neuroimaging techniques to investigate the effects of sleep fragmentation on the brain. However, the study's cross-sectional design and lack of information about participants' sleep quality before the study limit the strength of the results. Overall, the study found that sleep fragmentation was associated with reduced cognitive performance and structural changes in specific brain regions, including the hippocampus and posterior cingulate cortex. These regions are important for memory and attention, and the findings suggest that sleep fragmentation can have negative effects on cognitive function in elderly individuals. The study highlights the importance of good sleep quality for maintaining cognitive function in older age.



Csipo, T., Lipecz, A., Owens, C., Mukli, P., Perry, J.W., Tarantini, S., Balasubramanian, P., Nyúl-Tóth, Á., Yabluchanska, V., Sorond, F.A. and Kellawan, J.M., 2021. Sleep deprivation impairs cognitive performance, alters task-associated cerebral blood flow and decreases cortical neurovascular coupling-related hemodynamic responses. Scientific Reports, 11(1), p.20994.


OVERVIEW: The article discusses the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance and brain function. The study explores how sleep deprivation affects the brain's blood flow and its ability to perform cognitive tasks. The researchers also investigate the relationship between cerebral blood flow and cognitive function in sleep-deprived individuals.

STRENGTHS: The study uses a comprehensive approach to understand the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive function. It includes various methods, such as measuring cerebral blood flow and neurovascular coupling, to examine how sleep deprivation affects the brain's function. The researchers also use a randomised controlled trial design to eliminate any potential confounding variables that could affect the study's results.

LIMITATIONS: The study's sample size is relatively small, which may limit the generalisability of the findings. The study also only focuses on the acute effects of sleep deprivation and does not explore the long-term impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive function.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study employs multiple objective measures to assess cognitive function and brain function. Additionally, the use of a randomised controlled trial design adds to the study's internal validity. Overall, the study suggests that sleep deprivation negatively impacts cognitive function and brain function. It highlights the importance of adequate sleep in maintaining optimal cognitive performance and brain health.



De Bruin, E.J., van Run, C., Staaks, J. and Meijer, A.M., 2017. Effects of sleep manipulation on cognitive functioning of adolescents: A systematic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 32, pp.45-57.


OVERVIEW: This systematic review aimed to investigate the effects of sleep manipulation on cognitive functioning of adolescents. The authors included 31 studies in their review and analysed the results to determine the overall effect of sleep manipulation on cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and learning.

STRENGTHS: The authors used a comprehensive search strategy to identify relevant studies for their review, and they included studies published in different languages. They also used standardised criteria to assess the quality of the studies included in the review. The systematic review approach ensures that the findings are based on a rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the available evidence.

LIMITATIONS: The studies included in the review were conducted under different conditions and with different populations, which limits the generalisability of the findings. The review only included studies published up to December 2015.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The authors used a rigorous systematic review approach and included a large number of studies. In conclusion, this systematic review provides evidence that sleep manipulation has a significant impact on cognitive functioning of adolescents, particularly in attention, memory, and learning. However, more research is needed to better understand the specific effects of sleep on cognitive functioning in this population, as well as the potential long-term consequences of sleep deprivation. The findings from this review have implications for educators, parents, and healthcare professionals working with adolescents and emphasise the importance of adequate sleep for cognitive and overall health.



Dorrian, J. and Dinges, D.F., 2006. Sleep deprivation and its effects on cognitive performance. Encyclopedia of Sleep Medicine, pp.139-144.


OVERVIEW: The article is about how sleep deprivation affects cognitive performance. It covers topics such as how much sleep is required, what happens when we don't get enough sleep, and how sleep deprivation affects different aspects of cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: This article provides a comprehensive overview of the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. It covers a wide range of cognitive functions, including attention, memory, and decision-making. It also discusses the importance of getting enough sleep and the negative consequences of sleep deprivation.

LIMITATIONS: The article does not provide new data or experiments. Instead, it is a review of the existing research on sleep deprivation and cognitive performance. Additionally, the article does not go into great detail about the mechanisms behind the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The article is written by two well-respected sleep researchers and is published in an encyclopaedia of sleep medicine. However, as a review article, it is based on previously published research and does not provide new data or experiments.

Overall, this article is a good introduction to the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. It provides a comprehensive overview of the existing research and highlights the importance of getting enough sleep. However, it does not provide new insights into the mechanisms behind the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance.



Ferrara, M., De Gennaro, L., Casagrande, M. and Bertini, M., 2000. Selective slow-wave sleep deprivation and time-of-night effects on cognitive performance upon awakening. Psychophysiology, 37(4), pp.440-446.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the impact of selective slow-wave sleep deprivation and time-of-night effects on cognitive performance. Slow-wave sleep is an important phase of sleep, essential for cognitive functions. The authors aim to investigate whether selective deprivation of this sleep stage, which occurs mostly in the first half of the night, has a differential impact on cognitive performance compared to the second half of the night.

STRENGTHS: The study has a well-controlled experimental design with a relatively large sample size, including both men and women. Cognitive performance was measured objectively using a validated psychometric test, and the results were statistically analysed using appropriate methods.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted on healthy young adults, so the findings may not be generalisable to other age groups or clinical populations. Moreover, the study used total sleep deprivation as a control group, which does not account for the possible impact of partial sleep deprivation or the effects of other sleep stages.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - Well-designed experimental design, large sample size, and robust statistical analysis. However, the results should be interpreted with caution, given the limitations mentioned above. In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of slow-wave sleep for cognitive performance and suggests that selective deprivation of this sleep stage may have a differential impact depending on the time of night. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of partial sleep deprivation and other sleep stages on cognitive performance.



Giacobbo, B.L., Corrêa, M.S., Vedovelli, K., de Souza, C.E.B., Spitza, L.M., Gonçalves, L., Paludo, N., Molina, R.D., da Rosa, E.D., de Lima Argimon, I.I. and Bromberg, E., 2016. Could BDNF be involved in compensatory mechanisms to maintain cognitive performance despite acute sleep deprivation? An exploratory study. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 99, pp.96-102.


OVERVIEW: The study investigates the relationship between sleep deprivation, cognitive performance, and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels. BDNF is a protein that supports the growth and maintenance of neurons in the brain, which is important for cognitive function. The researchers aim to determine whether BDNF levels are involved in compensatory mechanisms that help maintain cognitive performance despite sleep deprivation.

STRENGTHS: The study uses a rigorous design with a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind protocol. This means that neither the participants nor the researchers knew which group they were in, which helps to reduce bias in the results. The study also includes a large sample size and uses objective measures of cognitive performance.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation is that the study only investigates acute sleep deprivation, which is sleep deprivation that occurs over a short period of time (24 hours). Chronic sleep deprivation, which occurs over a longer period of time, may have different effects on BDNF levels and cognitive performance. Another limitation is that the study only includes healthy young adults, so the results may not generalise to other populations such as older adults or individuals with sleep disorders.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study uses a rigorous design and objective measures of cognitive performance, but the findings are limited to acute sleep deprivation in healthy young adults. Further research is needed to determine the effects of chronic sleep deprivation and whether the findings generalise to other populations. Overall, the study provides insight into the potential role of BDNF in compensatory mechanisms that help maintain cognitive performance despite sleep deprivation.



Gorgoni, M., D'Atri, A., Scarpelli, S., Reda, F. and De Gennaro, L., 2020. Sleep electroencephalography and brain maturation: Developmental trajectories and the relation with cognitive functioning. Sleep Medicine, 66, pp.33-50.


OVERVIEW: This scientific article discusses the relationship between sleep and brain development in children and adolescents. The authors examine electroencephalography (EEG) measures of sleep and their relation to cognitive functioning.

STRENGTHS: One strength of this study is that it covers a wide range of ages, from infancy to adolescence. This allows for a comprehensive analysis of how sleep and brain development are related over time. Additionally, the use of EEG provides a more objective measure of sleep quality than self-reported sleep measures.

LIMITATIONS: A limitation of this study is that it primarily focuses on correlations between sleep and cognitive functioning, so it cannot establish a causal relationship. Additionally, the study sample was relatively small and consisted mostly of children from middle-class families, so the results may not be generalisable to other populations.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study has some limitations, it provides valuable insight into the complex relationship between sleep and brain development in children and adolescents. In conclusion, this article highlights the importance of sleep for brain development and cognitive functioning in young people. The study suggests that EEG measures of sleep can provide useful information about brain maturation and cognitive abilities. Further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying these relationships and to develop interventions to improve sleep quality and promote healthy brain development in young people.



Grumbach, P., Opel, N., Martin, S., Meinert, S., Leehr, E.J., Redlich, R., Enneking, V., Goltermann, J., Baune, B.T., Dannlowski, U. and Repple, J., 2020. Sleep duration is associated with white matter microstructure and cognitive performance in healthy adults. Human Brain Mapping, 41(15), pp.4397-4405.


OVERVIEW: The study investigated the relationship between sleep duration, white matter microstructure, and cognitive performance in healthy adults. White matter is the part of the brain responsible for communication between different brain regions, while cognitive performance refers to the brain's ability to perform mental tasks, such as memory and attention. The study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the white matter microstructure and cognitive tests to measure cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: The study used a large sample size of healthy adults and examined the relationship between sleep duration, white matter microstructure, and cognitive performance. The use of MRI allowed for the accurate measurement of white matter microstructure, while cognitive tests provided an objective measure of cognitive performance. The study's findings could have important implications for promoting healthy sleep habits and maintaining cognitive function.

LIMITATIONS: The study was limited by its cross-sectional design, meaning that it cannot determine causality. It is unclear whether sleep duration affects white matter microstructure and cognitive performance or whether these factors influence sleep duration. Additionally, the study did not account for potential confounding factors that could affect the relationship between sleep duration, white matter microstructure, and cognitive performance.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study had a large sample size and used objective measures to examine the relationship between sleep duration, white matter microstructure, and cognitive performance. However, the study's cross-sectional design and lack of accounting for potential confounding factors limit the strength of its findings. Further research is needed to establish a causal relationship between sleep duration, white matter microstructure, and cognitive performance.



Guazzelli, M., Feinberg, I., Aminoff, M., Fein, G., Floyd, T.C. and Maggini, C., 1986. Sleep spindles in normal elderly: comparison with young adult patterns and relation to nocturnal awakening, cognitive function and brain atrophy. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 63(6), pp.526-539.


OVERVIEW: This study examined sleep patterns in healthy elderly individuals, specifically looking at sleep spindles, which are brain waves that occur during sleep. The researchers compared the sleep spindles of the elderly participants with those of young adults, and also looked at the relationship between sleep spindles and cognitive function, brain atrophy, and nocturnal awakening.

STRENGTHS: The study is important because sleep disturbances are common in elderly individuals, and understanding the patterns of sleep spindles in this population can provide insight into age-related changes in sleep. The study also used advanced methods for analysing sleep patterns, which adds to the scientific rigor of the findings.

LIMITATIONS: The study has several limitations, including a relatively small sample size of elderly participants, which limits the generalisability of the findings. Additionally, the study only looked at sleep spindles and did not examine other aspects of sleep, such as deep sleep or REM sleep. Finally, the study was conducted over 30 years ago, and newer research may have updated or expanded upon these findings.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the findings are important for understanding sleep patterns in elderly individuals, the small sample size and limited scope of the study mean that further research is needed to confirm and expand upon these findings.


Jackson, M.L., Gunzelmann, G., Whitney, P., Hinson, J.M., Belenky, G., Rabat, A. and Van Dongen, H.P., 2013. Deconstructing and reconstructing cognitive performance in sleep deprivation. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 17(3), pp.215-225.


OVERVIEW: Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence in modern society, and its effects on cognitive performance have been extensively studied. In this article, the authors focus on understanding how sleep deprivation affects various cognitive functions, such as attention, reaction time, and decision making. They also explore the underlying mechanisms of these effects.

STRENGTHS: The authors provide a comprehensive review of previous studies on sleep deprivation and cognitive performance. They also discuss various theories that explain the underlying mechanisms of the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. The authors present their findings in an accessible and informative way, making it easy for readers to understand.

LIMITATIONS: The authors note that many of the studies they reviewed suffer from methodological issues, such as small sample sizes, lack of control groups, and inconsistent sleep deprivation protocols. This limits the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn from the studies.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the authors provide a comprehensive review of previous studies, the limitations of those studies and the lack of consistency in the findings of the studies weaken the scientific power of the article.

Overall, this article provides valuable insights into the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. However, further research is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms of these effects and to develop effective interventions to mitigate the negative effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance.



Kapsi, S., Katsantoni, S. and Drigas, A., 2020. The Role of Sleep and Impact on Brain and Learning. Int. J. Recent Contributions Eng. Sci. IT, 8(3), pp.59-68.


OVERVIEW: This article discusses the importance of sleep for brain function and learning. The authors highlight the different stages of sleep, including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM sleep, and explain how each stage is essential for different aspects of brain function. They also discuss the effects of sleep deprivation on brain function and learning, and how different sleep disorders can impact cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: This article provides a comprehensive overview of the relationship between sleep and brain function, including the different stages of sleep and their importance for cognitive performance. The authors cite a variety of studies to support their arguments and provide examples of different sleep disorders and their effects on learning and memory.

LIMITATIONS: The article could benefit from more discussion on the practical implications of the research, such as how individuals can improve their sleep quality and the potential impact of sleep interventions on cognitive function.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The article provides a good overview of the current research on sleep and its impact on brain function and learning. However, it would benefit from more in-depth analysis of specific studies and their findings. The lack of a discussion on practical implications also limits the scientific power of the article. Overall, the article serves as a good introduction to the topic and could be a useful starting point for further research.



Khan, M.A. and Al-Jahdali, H., 2023. The consequences of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. Neurosciences Journal, 28(2), pp.91-99.


OVERVIEW: The article discusses the consequences of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance, which means how lack of sleep affects our ability to think, learn, and remember things. The authors explore the scientific evidence on this topic, including studies that investigate the effects of sleep deprivation on different cognitive tasks, such as attention, memory, and decision-making.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on sleep deprivation and cognitive performance, which makes it a useful resource for anyone interested in this topic. The authors discuss the different ways that sleep deprivation can impact our cognitive abilities, and they provide examples of specific tasks that may be affected. They also describe some of the underlying mechanisms that may explain these effects, such as changes in brain activity and hormonal balance.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the article is that it does not include any original research. Instead, it is a review of existing studies, which means that the authors do not present any new findings. Additionally, the article does not explore some of the more complex factors that may influence the relationship between sleep and cognition, such as age, health status, and individual differences in sleep patterns.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - While the authors do not present any new research, they provide a thorough and balanced review of the existing literature on sleep deprivation and cognitive performance. They also draw attention to some of the limitations of the studies they review, which underscores the need for more research in this area.



Killgore, W.D. and Weber, M., 2013. Sleep deprivation and cognitive performance. Sleep deprivation and disease: Effects on the Body, Brain and Behavior, pp.209-229.


OVERVIEW: The article examines the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. The authors provide a comprehensive overview of the effects of sleep deprivation on different cognitive domains, such as attention, working memory, executive function, and long-term memory. They also discuss the underlying neural mechanisms and provide insights into the neural substrates involved in the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive overview of the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance, covering different cognitive domains and underlying neural mechanisms. The authors cite a large body of research and provide a thorough discussion of the findings. Additionally, the article provides practical implications for individuals and organisations, such as shift workers and military personnel, who may be at risk of sleep deprivation.

LIMITATIONS: The article is a review and does not present new empirical data. Additionally, the authors do not discuss potential individual differences in the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance, such as age, sex, and genetics.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The authors cite a large body of research and provide a thorough discussion of the findings. However, the article is a review and does not present new empirical data, which may limit its scientific power. Additionally, the authors do not discuss potential individual differences in the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance, which may limit the generalisability of the findings.



Klein, T., Braunsmann, L., Koschate, J., Hoffmann, U., Foitschik, T., Krieger, S., Crucian, B., Schneider, S. and Abeln, V., 2023. Short-term isolation effects on the brain, cognitive performance, and sleep—The role of exercise. Frontiers in Physiology, 14, p.75.


OVERVIEW: The study aimed to investigate the effects of short-term isolation on the brain, cognitive performance, and sleep, and whether exercise can mitigate these effects. The participants were subjected to isolation for five days and were randomly assigned to either an exercise group or a control group. The researchers assessed cognitive performance, brain activity, and sleep quality at various points throughout the study.

STRENGTHS: This study has several strengths, including the use of a randomised controlled trial design, which helps to ensure that any observed effects are due to the intervention rather than chance. Additionally, the study used objective measures of cognitive performance, brain activity, and sleep quality, such as EEG and cognitive tests, which provide more accurate and reliable data than self-reported measures.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the study is the small sample size, which may limit the generalisability of the findings. Additionally, the study only investigated the effects of short-term isolation, and it is unclear how the findings may apply to longer periods of isolation. Finally, the study did not include a measure of mood, which is a significant factor in both cognitive performance and sleep quality.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The randomised controlled trial design and the use of objective measures of cognitive performance and sleep quality are strengths that increase the scientific power. However, the small sample size and lack of a measure of mood limit the power of the study. Additionally, the study's focus on short-term isolation limits the generalisability of the findings to other populations or situations.



Kreutzmann, J.C., Havekes, R., Abel, T. and Meerlo, P., 2015. Sleep deprivation and hippocampal vulnerability: changes in neuronal plasticity, neurogenesis and cognitive function. Neuroscience, 309, pp.173-190.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the impact of sleep deprivation on the hippocampus, a region of the brain important for learning and memory. The authors review studies that have investigated the effects of sleep deprivation on the plasticity of neurons (their ability to change and adapt), the creation of new neurons, and cognitive function.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive overview of the research on sleep deprivation and hippocampal function, making it a valuable resource for those interested in the topic. The authors also discuss potential mechanisms that underlie the observed changes in the hippocampus, such as increased levels of stress hormones and inflammation.

LIMITATIONS: The article mainly focuses on studies conducted in animals, which limits the generalisability of the findings to humans. Additionally, the authors do not discuss the potential impact of other factors that could contribute to the observed changes in hippocampal function, such as changes in diet or physical activity levels.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The article is based on a review of multiple studies, providing a comprehensive overview of the research in this area. However, the majority of the studies were conducted in animals, which limits the generalisability of the findings to humans.

In conclusion, the article highlights the importance of sleep for cognitive function and suggests that sleep deprivation can have negative effects on the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory. While the findings are mainly based on animal studies, they suggest that sleep is a crucial factor in maintaining brain health and cognitive performance.



Kwon, K.J., Lee, E.J., Kim, M.K., Jeon, S.J., Choi, Y.Y., Shin, C.Y. and Han, S.H., 2015. The potential role of melatonin on sleep deprivation-induced cognitive impairments: implication of FMRP on cognitive function. Neuroscience, 301, pp.403-414.


OVERVIEW: The study aimed to investigate the potential role of melatonin in sleep deprivation-induced cognitive impairments. The researchers examined the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive function and the expression of a protein called FMRP in rats. They also investigated whether melatonin administration could alleviate the cognitive impairments induced by sleep deprivation.

STRENGTHS: The study is well-designed and executed, with a clear hypothesis and research question. The researchers used a variety of tests to measure cognitive function, including the novel object recognition test, Morris Water Maze test, and Y-maze test. They also measured the expression of FMRP, which has been linked to cognitive function. The study's results suggest that melatonin administration can improve cognitive function and increase FMRP expression in sleep-deprived rats.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted on rats, so the results may not directly translate to humans. Additionally, the study used a relatively small sample size, which limits the generalisability of the results. Finally, the study did not investigate the mechanism by which melatonin administration improves cognitive function.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study is well-designed and executed, the results are limited by the small sample size and the fact that the study was conducted on rats. Further research is needed to determine whether the findings can be generalised to humans and to investigate the underlying mechanisms of melatonin's effects on cognitive function.



Lieberman, H.R., Tharion, W.J., Shukitt-Hale, B., Speckman, K.L. and Tulley, R., 2002. Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during US Navy SEAL training. Psychopharmacology, 164, pp.250-261.


OVERVIEW: The study investigated the effects of caffeine, sleep deprivation, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during a high-stress military training program for US Navy SEALs. The study aimed to determine the extent to which caffeine intake and sleep deprivation could help maintain cognitive performance during prolonged periods of intense stress.

STRENGTHS: The study was conducted under controlled conditions and involved a group of highly trained and motivated individuals. The study utilised several cognitive tests to assess different aspects of cognitive function, including vigilance, reaction time, and working memory. The study also collected data on mood, which allowed for an assessment of the impact of caffeine, sleep deprivation, and stress on affective state.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted on a relatively small sample size, which may limit the generalisability of the findings. The study only investigated the acute effects of caffeine and sleep deprivation on cognitive performance and mood during a specific military training program and did not examine the long-term effects of these factors on cognitive function.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - Rigorous study design and utilisation of established cognitive tests to assess different aspects of cognitive function. However, the small sample size and the focus on acute effects limit the strength of the study's findings. Overall, the study highlights the impact of caffeine and sleep deprivation on cognitive performance and mood during periods of high stress. While the study was limited in scope, it suggests that caffeine may have some beneficial effects on cognitive function during sleep deprivation, though more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of these factors on cognitive performance.



Lim, D.C. and Pack, A.I., 2014. Obstructive sleep apnea and cognitive impairment: Addressing the blood–brain barrier. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 18(1), pp.35-48.


OVERVIEW: Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition where a person's airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep, leading to decreased oxygen levels in the blood. This can result in a variety of health problems, including cognitive impairment. This article reviews the relationship between OSA and cognitive impairment, specifically the role of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in this relationship.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of previous research on the topic and explains the mechanisms behind the relationship between OSA and cognitive impairment. The authors discuss the role of the BBB in regulating the transport of substances between the blood and brain, and how dysfunction of the BBB due to OSA can lead to cognitive impairment. The article also suggests potential treatments for OSA-related cognitive impairment, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy and medications that target BBB dysfunction.

LIMITATIONS: The article focuses primarily on the role of the BBB in OSA-related cognitive impairment and does not delve into other potential causes of cognitive impairment in people with OSA, such as sleep fragmentation or decreased sleep quality. The studies cited in the article are mostly animal studies, and more research is needed to determine how relevant these findings are to human patients.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The article provides a thorough review of previous research and explains the mechanisms behind the relationship between OSA and cognitive impairment. However, the majority of the studies cited are animal studies, and more research is needed to determine the relevance of these findings to human patients.



Lo, J.C., Groeger, J.A., Cheng, G.H., Dijk, D.J. and Chee, M.W., 2016. Self-reported sleep duration and cognitive performance in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine, 17, pp.87-98.


OVERVIEW: The study aimed to examine the relationship between self-reported sleep duration and cognitive performance in older adults. The authors conducted a meta-analysis of 29 studies, including over 36,000 participants. They looked at various cognitive measures, including memory, attention, and executive function, and analysed how they were affected by sleep duration.

STRENGTHS: The study is based on a large sample size, including a diverse group of participants. The authors conducted a thorough analysis of the data and included studies with various methodologies. This allowed them to draw strong conclusions about the relationship between sleep duration and cognitive performance in older adults.

LIMITATIONS: The study relies on self-reported sleep duration, which may not be entirely accurate. Additionally, the authors did not consider other factors that could affect cognitive performance, such as sleep quality, sleep disorders, and medications. The included studies also used various cognitive measures, which may not be directly comparable.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study has a moderate to strong scientific power due to its large sample size and thorough analysis of the data. However, the reliance on self-reported sleep duration and the lack of consideration of other factors that could affect cognitive performance may weaken the study's conclusions. The study suggests that self-reported sleep duration is associated with cognitive performance in older adults. The authors found that both short and long sleep durations were associated with poorer cognitive performance. However, the study's limitations suggest that further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between sleep duration and cognitive performance in older adults.




Lo, J.C., Loh, K.K., Zheng, H., Sim, S.K. and Chee, M.W., 2014. Sleep duration and age-related changes in brain structure and cognitive performance. Sleep, 37(7), pp.821-821.


OVERVIEW: The article investigates how sleep duration affects age-related changes in brain structure and cognitive performance. The study aims to understand if sleep duration can help preserve brain health and cognitive function as we age.

STRENGTHS: The study used a large sample size of 66 healthy adults aged 55 years and above, which makes the results more reliable. The study also used advanced neuroimaging techniques to measure brain structure changes, and cognitive tests to assess cognitive performance.

LIMITATIONS: The study had a cross-sectional design, which means that the results can only show a correlation between sleep duration, brain structure changes, and cognitive performance, but not a cause-effect relationship. Additionally, the study did not control for factors such as physical activity, diet, and health conditions that could affect brain structure and cognitive performance.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study used advanced neuroimaging techniques and cognitive tests, which are reliable measures. However, the study's cross-sectional design and failure to control for other factors that could affect brain structure and cognitive performance limit its scientific power.

In conclusion, the study suggests that sleep duration may play a role in preserving brain health and cognitive function as we age. However, further studies that use a longitudinal design and control for confounding factors are needed to confirm these findings. Therefore, maintaining good sleep hygiene is essential to promote brain health and cognitive function in old age.



Lucey, B.P., Wisch, J., Boerwinkle, A.H., Landsness, E.C., Toedebusch, C.D., McLeland, J.S., Butt, O.H., Hassenstab, J., Morris, J.C., Ances, B.M. and Holtzman, D.M., 2021. Sleep and longitudinal cognitive performance in preclinical and early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. Brain, 144(9), pp.2852-2862.


OVERVIEW: Sleep has been linked to cognitive function, and recent research suggests that sleep disruption may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between sleep quality and cognitive performance in individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The study followed 142 participants over a period of up to seven years, measuring their sleep quality and cognitive function. The results suggest that poor sleep quality is associated with a decline in cognitive function, and this decline is more pronounced in individuals who go on to develop Alzheimer's disease.

STRENGTHS: This study is valuable because it explores the relationship between sleep quality and cognitive function over an extended period. The longitudinal design allowed the researchers to measure changes in cognitive function and sleep quality over time, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between these factors. The study also included individuals with preclinical Alzheimer's disease, making it relevant for the early detection and prevention of cognitive decline.

LIMITATIONS: The study has some limitations, including a small sample size and a lack of diversity among participants. Additionally, the study relied on self-reported sleep quality and did not use objective measures such as polysomnography to confirm sleep disturbances.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The longitudinal design provides a robust method for measuring changes in cognitive function and sleep quality over time, and the study's results are consistent with previous research linking sleep disruption to cognitive decline. However, the study's limitations, such as the small sample size and lack of objective measures of sleep quality, suggest that further research is needed to confirm and extend these findings.



Mohammadipoor-Ghasemabad, L., Sangtarash, M.H., Sheibani, V., Sasan, H.A. and Esmaeili-Mahani, S., 2019. Hippocampal microRNA-191a-5p regulates BDNF expression and shows correlation with cognitive impairment induced by paradoxical sleep deprivation. Neuroscience, 414, pp.49-59.


OVERVIEW: The article examines the role of a specific microRNA called miR-191a-5p in regulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory. The study investigates the impact of paradoxical sleep deprivation (PSD), a type of sleep deprivation that occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, on cognitive function and miR-191a-5p levels in the hippocampus of rats.

STRENGTHS: The study uses a well-established animal model to investigate the impact of PSD on cognitive function and the underlying molecular mechanisms in the hippocampus. The results show that PSD leads to cognitive impairment and a decrease in miR-191a-5p levels in the hippocampus, which in turn reduces BDNF expression. This finding suggests a potential role for miR-191a-5p in mediating the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function.

LIMITATIONS: While the study provides valuable insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying sleep deprivation-induced cognitive impairment, it only focuses on a single microRNA and its relationship with BDNF. The study also only investigates the effects of PSD on cognitive function in rats, and it remains unclear whether these findings apply to humans.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study design is robust, and the results are statistically significant. However, the limitations mentioned above reduce the generalisability of the findings and the impact of the study on the field. Further research is needed to validate the findings in humans and explore the potential therapeutic implications of targeting miR-191a-5p in sleep-deprived individuals.



Naismith, S.L. and Mowszowski, L., 2018. Sleep disturbance in mild cognitive impairment: a systematic review of recent findings. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 31(2), pp.153-159.


OVERVIEW: This article is a systematic review of studies that have looked at the relationship between sleep disturbance and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a condition where a person has problems with memory and thinking that are greater than what is considered normal for their age but not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia. The review looks at recent findings in this area and discusses the possible mechanisms that might link sleep disturbance and MCI.

STRENGTHS: This article is a systematic review which means that the authors searched the literature for all studies that meet specific criteria and analysed the results of these studies. This approach can provide a more comprehensive view of a topic than individual studies alone. The authors also looked at recent studies which means that the review reflects the most up-to-date findings.

LIMITATIONS: As with any systematic review, the authors are limited by the studies that are available. They may have missed studies that were not published or studies that did not meet their inclusion criteria. Also, many of the studies in this area are cross-sectional, meaning that they looked at the relationship between sleep and cognitive impairment at one point in time. This means that it is difficult to establish cause and effect.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the systematic review approach is a strength, the limitations mentioned above reduce the strength of the article. However, the authors do provide a useful overview of recent findings in this area and discuss the possible mechanisms linking sleep disturbance and MCI.



Pace-Schott, E.F. and Spencer, R.M., 2011. Age-related changes in the cognitive function of sleep. Progress in Brain Research, 191, pp.75-89.


OVERVIEW: The article discusses how ageing affects sleep and cognitive function. The authors explore the relationship between sleep and cognitive function and how it changes as people age. They discuss how sleep changes with age, and how these changes can affect cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the research on how aging affects sleep and cognitive function. It discusses both the biological and behavioural changes that occur as people age, and how these changes can impact cognitive function. The authors provide detailed explanations of the different stages of sleep and how they affect cognitive function, which can help readers understand the complex relationship between sleep and cognition.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the article is that it focuses primarily on the cognitive changes that occur during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and less attention is given to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Additionally, the article is a review, so it does not present any new data or experiments. Instead, it synthesises existing research, which may not provide as much depth or detail as a primary research study.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The authors provide a comprehensive review of existing research, which makes the article a valuable resource for researchers and students interested in sleep and cognitive function. However, the article does not present any new data, and it may not be as impactful as a primary research study. Nevertheless, the article's extensive review and analysis of existing research demonstrate a strong scientific foundation for understanding the relationship between sleep and cognitive function.



Peracchia, S. and Curcio, G., 2018. Exposure to video games: effects on sleep and on post-sleep cognitive abilities. A systematic review of experimental evidence. Sleep Science, 11(4), p.302.


OVERVIEW: Peracchia and Curcio's (2018) article presents a systematic review of experimental studies on the effects of video game exposure on sleep and post-sleep cognitive abilities. The authors aimed to examine the impact of video games on sleep quality, quantity, and architecture, as well as the subsequent effects on cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a thorough and comprehensive review of existing research on video games and sleep. The authors carefully selected and evaluated each study to ensure the reliability and validity of the findings. The article's structured approach to the review process makes it easy for readers to understand the research methods and results. The authors also provide practical implications and future directions for research.

LIMITATIONS: The article focuses only on experimental studies and does not include observational studies, limiting the generalisability of the findings. Additionally, the authors did not examine potential confounding variables, such as individual differences in sleep patterns or gaming habits.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The authors conducted a rigorous search of the literature and critically evaluated each study. However, the limited scope of the review and the absence of observational studies reduce the strength of the article's conclusions. Nonetheless, the article provides valuable insights into the relationship between video games, sleep, and cognitive performance.



Posada-Quintero, H.F., Reljin, N., Bolkhovsky, J.B., Orjuela-Cañón, A.D. and Chon, K.H., 2019. Brain activity correlates with cognitive performance deterioration during sleep deprivation. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13, p.1001.


OVERVIEW: The article explores how sleep deprivation affects cognitive performance and brain activity. It reviews previous studies on sleep deprivation and its impact on cognitive performance, and then conducts a new study to investigate the changes in brain activity during sleep deprivation. The study uses electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings to measure brain activity and cognitive performance tests to assess the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive functions.

STRENGTHS: The study provides new insights into the effects of sleep deprivation on brain activity and cognitive performance. It uses EEG recordings, a reliable method for measuring brain activity, to track changes in the brain during sleep deprivation. It also uses well-established cognitive performance tests to assess the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive functions.

LIMITATIONS: The study is limited by its small sample size, which may limit the generalisability of its findings. Additionally, the study only examines the effects of acute sleep deprivation and does not explore the effects of chronic sleep deprivation or the long-term effects of acute sleep deprivation.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - It provides new insights into the effects of sleep deprivation on brain activity and cognitive performance, but its small sample size and focus on acute sleep deprivation limit its generalisability and applicability to real-world scenarios. Overall, the article highlights the negative impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance and brain activity. It emphasizes the importance of adequate sleep for maintaining optimal cognitive function and suggests that interventions to improve sleep quality and quantity may be beneficial for improving cognitive performance.



Raven, F., Van der Zee, E.A., Meerlo, P. and Havekes, R., 2018. The role of sleep in regulating structural plasticity and synaptic strength: implications for memory and cognitive function. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 39, pp.3-11.


OVERVIEW: This scientific article discusses the important role of sleep in memory and cognitive function. The authors explain how sleep helps the brain to regulate structural changes and synaptic strength in the brain, which are necessary for memory and cognitive processes to occur. The article also explains how sleep disruptions, such as sleep deprivation or sleep disorders, can negatively affect these processes.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive overview of the current research on the role of sleep in memory and cognitive function. It covers both animal and human studies and discusses the mechanisms by which sleep affects brain plasticity and synaptic strength. The authors also provide insights into potential therapeutic targets for sleep disorders that could help improve cognitive function.

LIMITATIONS: While the article provides a thorough review of the literature, it does not provide new empirical evidence to support its claims. Instead, it relies on previously published studies to make its arguments. Additionally, some of the studies cited in the article were conducted in animals and may not necessarily translate to humans.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The authors draw on a large body of research to support their claims, and their arguments are supported by a range of empirical evidence. However, the article could be strengthened by the inclusion of more recent studies, and by the presentation of new empirical evidence to support the claims made in the article.



Reynolds, C.M., Short, M.A. and Gradisar, M., 2018. Sleep spindles and cognitive performance across adolescence: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Adolescence, 66, pp.55-70.


OVERVIEW: The article reviews the relationship between sleep spindles and cognitive performance in adolescents. Sleep spindles are brain wave patterns that occur during a stage of sleep called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The article presents a meta-analysis of several studies to investigate the relationship between sleep spindles and cognitive performance.

STRENGTHS: The study conducted a meta-analysis which is a comprehensive analysis of existing research on the topic. This allowed for a larger sample size and increased power to detect relationships between sleep spindles and cognitive performance. The study also included a wide range of cognitive measures, including attention, memory, and language, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between sleep spindles and cognitive performance.

LIMITATIONS: The study only focused on adolescents, so the results may not generalise to other age groups. Additionally, the study used cross-sectional data, which means that causality cannot be inferred from the results.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The meta-analysis design allowed for a large sample size and increased power to detect relationships. However, the study's limitations, such as the use of cross-sectional data and the focus on only one age group, may limit the generalisability of the results.



Schmidt, C., Peigneux, P. and Cajochen, C., 2012. Age-related changes in sleep and circadian rhythms: impact on cognitive performance and underlying neuroanatomical networks. Frontiers in Neurology, 3, p.118.


OVERVIEW: This article talks about how our sleep and circadian rhythms change as we age, and how these changes affect our cognitive performance. It also discusses the underlying neuroanatomical networks that are involved in these processes.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive overview of the scientific literature on the topic, which makes it a useful resource for researchers, clinicians, and students. It also highlights the importance of understanding how age-related changes in sleep and circadian rhythms impact cognitive performance and provides insights into the underlying neuroanatomical mechanisms.

LIMITATIONS: The article doesn't go into detail about specific studies or experiments, so readers who are interested in the details of individual studies may need to look elsewhere. Also, the article focuses primarily on the effects of aging on sleep and circadian rhythms, so it may not be as useful for readers who are interested in other aspects of sleep or cognitive performance.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - It provides a thorough overview of the existing scientific literature on the topic and provides valuable insights into the underlying mechanisms involved in age-related changes in sleep and cognitive performance. However, it does not provide new empirical data or experiments.



Thomas, M., Sing, H., Belenky, G., Holcomb, H., Mayberg, H., Dannals, R., Wagner Jr, H., Thorne, D., Popp, K., Rowland, L. and Welsh, A., 2000. Neural basis of alertness and cognitive performance impairments during sleepiness. I. Effects of 24 h of sleep deprivation on waking human regional brain activity. Journal of Sleep Research, 9(4), pp.335-352.


OVERVIEW: The article investigates the neural basis of cognitive performance and alertness during sleep deprivation. The study uses positron emission tomography (PET) to examine the changes in brain activity of healthy individuals after 24 hours of sleep deprivation. The researchers aimed to determine which areas of the brain are involved in cognitive performance impairments during sleepiness.

STRENGTHS: The study used PET, which is a powerful tool for measuring brain activity. The sample size was n=17 healthy participants, and a control group. The study was also well-designed, with participants undergoing PET scans before and after the 24-hour sleep deprivation period. This enabled the researchers to compare the changes in brain activity that occurred due to sleep deprivation.

LIMITATIONS: The study has some limitations, including the fact that participants were not able to move during the PET scans, which may have influenced the results. The sample size is relatively small, and the study only includes healthy individuals, so the results may not be generalisable to other populations, such as those with sleep disorders or other medical conditions. The study also only examined the effects of 24 hours of sleep deprivation, so it is unclear whether the findings would be the same after longer periods of sleep loss.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The use of PET imaging and the well-designed study design are strengths, and the sample size is relatively large. However, the limitations, such as the small sample size and the inability to generalize the findings to other populations, may reduce the scientific power of the study. Overall, the study provides important insights into the neural basis of cognitive performance impairments during sleep deprivation. The use of PET imaging is a strength, although there are some limitations to the study, such as the small sample size and the inability to generalise the findings to other populations. Nonetheless, the study provides valuable information on how sleep deprivation affects the brain, which can have important implications for individuals who need to perform cognitive tasks while sleep-deprived.



Thomas, M.L., Sing, H.C., Belenky, G., Holcomb, H.H., Mayberg, H.S., Dannals, R.F., Wagner Jr, H.N., Thorne, D.R., Popp, K.A., Rowland, L.M. and Welsh, A.B., 2003. Neural basis of alertness and cognitive performance impairments during sleepiness II. Effects of 48 and 72 h of sleep deprivation on waking human regional brain activity. Thalamus & Related systems, 2(3), pp.199-229.


OVERVIEW: The article focuses on the neural basis of cognitive impairment due to sleep deprivation, specifically the effects of 48 and 72 hours of sleep deprivation on the brain's regional activity during wakefulness. The study used positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to measure brain activity and cognitive performance tasks to assess the participants' cognitive abilities. The researchers hypothesised that prolonged sleep deprivation would lead to a decline in cognitive performance and changes in brain activity.

STRENGTHS: One strength of the study is that it used PET imaging to measure brain activity, which is a highly accurate method that allows for the precise mapping of brain regions. Additionally, the study employed standardised cognitive performance tasks to assess cognitive abilities. By using standardised tasks, the researchers were able to compare their results to previous studies and draw meaningful conclusions.

LIMITATIONS: A limitation of the study is that it had a relatively small sample size of 11 participants, which may limit the generalisability of the results. Additionally, the study did not account for individual differences in sleep needs, as participants were not allowed to sleep during the 48- or 72-hour sleep deprivation periods, regardless of their baseline sleep requirements.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the use of PET imaging and standardised cognitive tasks are strengths, the small sample size and lack of consideration for individual sleep needs are limitations. Nevertheless, the study's findings contribute to the growing body of research on the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function and brain activity and may have important implications for professions that require sustained attention and vigilance, such as healthcare and transportation.



Ueno-Pardi, L.M., Souza-Duran, F.L., Matheus, L., Rodrigues, A.G., Barbosa, E.R., Cunha, P.J., Carneiro, C.G., Costa, N.A., Ono, C.R., Buchpiguel, C.A. and Negrão, C.E., 2022. Effects of exercise training on brain metabolism and cognitive functioning in sleep apnea. Scientific Reports, 12(1), p.9453.


OVERVIEW: Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a common disorder characterised by repeated episodes of partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep, leading to frequent awakenings and sleep disruption. OSA has been linked to cognitive dysfunction and decreased brain metabolism, and exercise has been suggested as a potential treatment. This study aimed to investigate the effects of exercise training on brain metabolism and cognitive function in individuals with OSA.

STRENGTHS: This study utilized a randomised controlled trial design, which is considered the gold standard for investigating the efficacy of interventions. The study also included a relatively large sample size of 30 participants, which improves the generalisability of the findings. The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and neuropsychological tests allowed for a comprehensive assessment of brain metabolism and cognitive function.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of this study is the relatively short intervention period of 12 weeks, which may not be sufficient to observe long-term effects of exercise training. Additionally, the study did not include a control group that did not receive exercise training, which limits the ability to attribute changes to the intervention itself. The study also did not account for potential confounding factors such as medication use or comorbidities.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE -While the study design and sample size are strong points, the lack of a control group and short intervention period limit the overall power of the study. However, the use of fMRI and neuropsychological tests provides a rigorous and objective assessment of brain metabolism and cognitive function. In conclusion, this study provides preliminary evidence for the potential benefits of exercise training in improving brain metabolism and cognitive function in individuals with OSA. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings and investigate the long-term effects of exercise training on OSA and cognitive function.



Wang, Z., Chen, W.H., Li, S.X., He, Z.M., Zhu, W.L., Ji, Y.B., Wang, Z., Zhu, X.M., Yuan, K., Bao, Y.P. and Shi, L., 2021. Gut microbiota modulates the inflammatory response and cognitive impairment induced by sleep deprivation. Molecular Psychiatry, 26(11), pp.6277-6292.


OVERVIEW: Sleep deprivation can cause cognitive impairment and inflammation in the body. This study investigated the role of gut microbiota in regulating these effects of sleep deprivation. The researchers found that changes in gut microbiota composition can worsen the cognitive impairment and inflammation caused by sleep deprivation.

STRENGTHS: This study used both animal models and human subjects, making the findings more applicable to real-life situations. The study used advanced techniques, such as high-throughput sequencing of gut microbiota, to identify changes in the gut microbiota composition. The study also used a variety of tests to assess cognitive functioning, inflammation levels, and gut microbiota composition.

LIMITATIONS: The study only looked at the effects of sleep deprivation on male subjects, so it is unclear whether the findings would apply to females as well. The study did not control for dietary factors, which can influence gut microbiota composition and inflammation. Additionally, the study only investigated the role of gut microbiota in sleep deprivation-induced cognitive impairment and inflammation and did not investigate other potential mechanisms.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - This study provides important insights into the role of gut microbiota in regulating the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive functioning and inflammation. However, further studies are needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these effects and to investigate potential interventions for mitigating the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the body and brain.



Xu, J., Zhu, Y., Fu, C., Sun, J., Li, H., Yang, X., Li, W., Qin, W., Shi, D. and Tian, J., 2016. Frontal metabolic activity contributes to individual differences in vulnerability toward total sleep deprivation‐induced changes in cognitive function. Journal of Sleep Research, 25(2), pp.169-180.


OVERVIEW: The study aimed to investigate how differences in brain metabolism may contribute to individual variability in cognitive function following total sleep deprivation (TSD). The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) to measure metabolic activity in the frontal cortex of participants before and after 24 hours of TSD. They then assessed cognitive function using a battery of tests. The study found that individuals with higher frontal metabolic activity prior to TSD were more vulnerable to cognitive decline following TSD, suggesting that differences in brain metabolism may play a role in individual susceptibility to sleep deprivation.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established technique, PET, to measure brain metabolism, which allowed for precise quantification of frontal metabolic activity. The researchers used a standardised protocol for TSD, which ensured that all participants received the same amount of sleep deprivation. The cognitive assessments used were also well-validated, providing a reliable measure of cognitive function.

LIMITATIONS: The study only measured metabolic activity in the frontal cortex and did not assess other brain regions that may also play a role in cognitive function. Additionally, the sample size was relatively small, which may limit the generalisability of the findings. Finally, the study only examined the effects of 24 hours of TSD, and it is unclear whether the results would generalise to longer periods of sleep deprivation.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study had a well-designed experimental protocol and used reliable measures, the small sample size and limited assessment of brain regions may limit the generalisability of the findings. Additionally, the study only examined the effects of 24 hours of TSD, which may not fully capture the effects of longer periods of sleep deprivation. Further research with larger samples and more comprehensive assessments is needed to fully understand the role of brain metabolism in individual differences in vulnerability to sleep deprivation.



Zhang, L., Zhang, H.Q., Liang, X.Y., Zhang, H.F., Zhang, T. and Liu, F.E., 2013. Melatonin ameliorates cognitive impairment induced by sleep deprivation in rats: role of oxidative stress, BDNF and CaMKII. Behavioural Brain Research, 256, pp.72-81.


OVERVIEW: The article examines the impact of melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain, on cognitive function in rats subjected to sleep deprivation. The study explores the role of oxidative stress, a condition in which there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that helps neurons grow and function, and CaMKII, an enzyme that is important for learning and memory. The researchers investigated whether melatonin could improve cognitive impairment caused by sleep deprivation in rats by reducing oxidative stress, increasing BDNF levels, and activating CaMKII.

STRENGTHS: The study is well-designed and uses a well-established animal model to investigate the effects of melatonin on cognitive function. The researchers used various tests to evaluate cognitive function and measured levels of oxidative stress, BDNF, and CaMKII to investigate the mechanisms of melatonin's effects. The study's findings suggest that melatonin may have potential as a therapeutic agent for cognitive impairment caused by sleep deprivation.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted on rats, and it is unclear whether the findings would apply to humans. The study also did not investigate the long-term effects of melatonin on cognitive function or explore the optimal dose of melatonin for improving cognitive function. Additionally, the study did not investigate the mechanism by which melatonin reduces oxidative stress or increases BDNF and CaMKII levels.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - Overall, this study provides important insights into the potential effects of melatonin on cognitive function and suggests that reducing oxidative stress, increasing BDNF levels, and activating CaMKII may be involved in melatonin's mechanisms of action. However, further research is needed to determine the optimal dose and long-term effects of melatonin on cognitive function, and to explore the mechanisms by which melatonin exerts its effects.





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