Top Stroke Risk: Too Little Sleep
By Nick Tate/Newsmax Health
Eating right and getting plenty of exercise can reduce your odds of having a stroke. But a new study has identified another factor that is a more powerful indicator of stroke risk: Getting enough sleep each night.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found routinely getting fewer than six hours of sleep at night poses the top risk of stroke for healthy adults.
"In employed middle-aged to older adults, relatively free of major risk factors for stroke such as obesity and sleep-disordered breathing, short sleep duration may exact its own negative influence on stroke development," said lead researcher Megan Ruiter. "We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone."
Ruiter and colleagues based their findings on a study of 5,666 people who were monitored for up to three years. The study participants were recruited from the ongoing Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, begun in 2003.
They had no history or symptoms of stroke, transient ischemic attack, or sleep apnea at the start of the study. At the end of the research, investigators found people with daily sleep periods of less than six hours had a far greater incidence of stroke symptoms.
Ruiter, who presented her findings at the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston this week, said the study highlights the need for physicians to consider sleep patterns in assessing their patients’ stroke risks.
"Sleep and sleep-related behaviors are highly modifiable with cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches and/or pharmaceutical interventions," Ruiter said. "These results may serve as a preliminary basis for using sleep treatments to prevent the development of stroke."