A new study from Oxford University has found that chronic sleep loss may shrink the brain’s volume.

The study, which followed 147 people over a 3.5 year period, found that those who had poorer sleep showed declines in brain size over time. The researchers noted that the effect was even more severe in people over 60, although it occurred in people of all ages.

Previous research has established that during sleep, restorative and repairing functions occur in the brain. Sleep is also known to consolidate memories and clear the brain of cellular debris, a buildup of which can impair function over time.

If you have trouble sleeping, don’t despair – here is a long list of research-based suggestions for how you can improve your sleep, plus an additional set of consequences that lack of sleep can have on your life.