Associations Between Sleep Health and Grey Matter Volume in the UK Biobank Cohort (N = 33,356)

David Ray, Julian E. Schiel, Sandra Tamm, Florian Holub, Roxana Petri, Hassan S Dashti, Katharina Domschke, Bernd Feige, Matthew O Goodman, Samuel E Jones, Jacqueline M Lane, Pietro-Luca Ratti , Susan Redline, Dieter Riemann, Martin K. Rutter, Richa Saxena, Claire E. Sexton, Masoud Tahmasian, Heming Wang, Michael N WeedonAntoine Weihs, Kai Spiegelhalder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As suggested by previous research, sleep health (SH) is assumed to be a key determinant of future morbidity and mortality. In line with this, recent studies have found that poor sleep is associated with impaired cognitive function. However, to date, little is known about brain structural abnormalities underlying this association. Although recent findings link SH deficits to specific alterations in grey matter volume (GMV), evidence remains inconsistent and reliant on small sample sizes.Addressing this problem, the current preregistered study investigated associations between SH and GMV (139 imaging-derived phenotypes = IDPs) in the UK Biobank cohort (33,356 participants). Drawing on a large sample size and consistent data acquisition, sleep duration, insomnia symptoms, daytime sleepiness, chronotype, sleep medication, and sleep apnoea were examined.Our main analyses revealed that long sleep duration was systematically associated with larger GMV of basal ganglia substructures. Insomnia symptoms, sleep medication and sleep apnoea were not associated with any of the 139 IDPs. Short sleep duration, daytime sleepiness as well as late and early chronotype were associated with solitary IDPs (no recognizable pattern, small effect sizes).To our knowledge, this is the largest study to test associations between SH and GMV. Early stage sleep apneandicated by long sleep duration, may be associated with enlarged GMV of basal ganglia. Clinical implications of the association between long sleep duration and larger Page 2 of 67 submitted to Brain CommunicationsFor Review Only 2GMV of basal ganglia are discussed. Insomnia symptoms as operationalised in the UK Biobank and impaired cognitive function associated with poor SH do not translate into GMV findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Communications
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Jun 2023


  • sleep health
  • grey matter volume
  • UK biobank
  • sleep duration
  • basal ganglia


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