New Research Finds These Common Sleep Problems Are Tied To Higher Stroke Risk
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk for stroke: smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. But according to new research published in the journal Neurology, there's another factor that may dramatically increase your risk for stroke—poor sleep. Here's what the study found.
Sleep issues associated with stroke in new research
For this study, researchers wanted to take a closer look at the connection between sleep problems and incidence of stroke. To do so, they looked at just under 4,500 people with an average age of 62. Roughly half of the participants had never had a stroke, while the other half had had a stroke previously.
The participants were asked about their sleeping habits and any subsequent sleep issues they may be experiencing, with researchers accounting for variables such as smoking, depression, alcohol consumption, and physical activity.
And based on the findings, there appears to be a strong link between sleep issues and strokes. Here's a quick view of what they found:
- Participants who reported getting less than five hours of sleep on average were 3x more likely to have a stroke as those who slept an average of seven hours.
- Participants who reported sleeping more than nine hours on average were over 2x as likely to have a stroke as those who slept an average of seven hours.
- Participants who reported napping for longer than an hour were 88% more likely to have a stroke than those who did not nap that long.
- Participants who reported snoring were 91% more likely to have a stroke than those who did not.
- Participants who reported snorting were nearly 3x more likely to have a stroke as those who did not.
- Participants with sleep apnea were nearly 3x more likely to have a stroke as those without.
It's important to note this research did not identify a direct link between sleep and stroke risk, only a strong correlation. Nevertheless, as study author Christine McCarthy, M.B., BCh, BAO, explains in a news release, "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."
She adds that future research is needed to determine whether interventions to improve sleep could reduce stroke risk.
What to do about it
While we wait for more research to unpack how sleep issues could be impacting stroke risk, the good news is, we can always take steps to focus on our sleep hygiene and decrease our risk of stroke.
The essential sleep rules, like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, are a good place to start—along with avoiding caffeine and alcohol too close to bed, which can impact sleep quality.
Talk to your doctor if you're experiencing persistent sleep issues, and consider opting for a quality sleep supplement with ingredients like magnesium and pharmaGABA, which are research-backed to help you fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality. (Here are nine of our favorites, all vetted by a nutrition scientist.)
And to lower your risk of stroke, be sure to get enough physical activity, limit your alcohol intake, and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.
Sleep is essential to virtually all of our bodily functions, so it's no surprise that sleep problems could increase your risk for stroke. As we understand more and more about sleep and its integral role in our overall well-being, consider this one more reason to make sure you're getting quality sleep every night.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.