A new study published in the journal Neurology has found that people who experience sleep problems are at a higher risk of stroke. Such issues include getting too little or too much sleep, taking long naps, having poor quality sleep, or experiencing breathing problems such as snoring, snorting, or sleep apnea.
“Not only do our results suggest that individual sleep problems may increase a person’s risk of stroke but having more than five of these symptoms may lead to five times the risk of stroke compared to those who do not have any sleep problems,” said study author Christine McCarthy, a medical expert at the University of Galway in Ireland.
The researchers investigated the sleep habits of a cohort of 4,496 individuals with an average age of 62, including 2,243 people who had a stroke. The analysis revealed that those getting too much or too little sleep were more likely to have a stroke than those who slept an average number of hours.
For instance, a total of 162 individuals who had a stroke slept less than five hours per night (compared to 43 of those who did not have a stroke), while 151 of those who had a stroke slept over nine hours (compared to 84 of those who did not have a stroke). Participants who slept less than five hours per night on average were three times more likely to have a stroke and those who slept over nine hours were twice as likely to have a stroke than those who slept seven hours. Moreover, participants who took naps longer than one hour were 88 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who took shorter or no naps.
Besides sleep duration, other factors increasing the risk of stroke included breathing problems such as snoring, snorting, or apnea. For example, people who snored were 91 percent more likely to have a stroke and people who snorted or had sleep apnea were three times more likely to have a stroke than those who did not experience such issues.
“With these results, doctors could have earlier conversations with people who are having sleep problems. Interventions to improve sleep may also reduce the risk of stroke and should be the subject of future research,” McCarthy concluded.
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