Sleep problems increase with ageing. Increasing evidence suggests that sleep problems are not only a consequence of age-related processes, but may independently contribute to developing vascular or neurodegenerative brain disease. Yet, it remains unclear what mechanisms underlie the impact sleep problems may have on brain health in the general middle-aged and elderly population. Here, we studied sleep's relation to brain functioning in 621 participants (median age 62 years, 55% women) from the population-based Rotterdam Study. We investigated cross-sectional associations of polysomnographic and subjectively measured aspects of sleep with intrinsic neural activity measured with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging on a different day. We investigated both functional connectivity between regions and brain activity (blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal amplitude) within regions, hierarchically towards smaller topographical levels. We found that longer polysomnographic total sleep time is associated with lower blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal amplitude in (pre)frontal regions. No objective or subjective sleep parameters were associated with functional connectivity between or within resting-state networks. The findings may indicate a pathway through which sleep, in a ‘real-life’ population setting, impacts brain activity or regional brain activity determines total sleep time.

BOLD, epidemiology, fMRI, rs-fMRI,
VSNU Open Access deal
Journal of Sleep Research (Print)
Department of Epidemiology

Lysen, T.S. (Thom S.), Zonneveld, H.I, Muetzel, R.L, Ikram, M.A, Luik, A.I, Vernooij, M.W, & Tiemeier, H.W. (2020). Sleep and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging connectivity in middle-aged adults and the elderly: A population-based study. Journal of Sleep Research (Print). doi:10.1111/jsr.12999