May 26, 2023 3 min read

If you constantly have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you may be at double the risk of having a stroke according to a study published in an April issue ofNeurology[1].


Getting 6 to 9 hours of sleep every night is extremely important for health. Sleep regulates metabolism, blood pressure, and immunity among many other processes. Unsurprisingly then, research consistently shows a strong link between not sleeping well due to snoring and other sleep problems and hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, depression, and low immunity, among other problems [2]. 


And the latest research involving thousands of participants says we should also add stroke to this growing list. 

About the Study

Researchers examined the results from the INTERSTROKE study — a large case-control study performed across 32 countries — to see how sleep influences stroke risk. The aim of the INTERSTROKE study is to identify risk factors for stroke with the goal of stroke prevention. The study that was published inNeurology examined findings from the INTERSTROKE study to see if there’s a strong link between sleep issues and a person’s risk of stroke. 


The study analyzed data from almost 4,500 individuals across the globe. Nearly half of the participants had experienced a stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage, while the other half were case controls. The average age of the participants was 62. Both groups were then surveyed about their sleep quality and habits, and the results were then compared. 


The main finding was that participants who did not get the optimal 6 to 9 hours of sleep had a three times greater risk of stroke. But other sleep problems — like snoring — also increased stroke risk to some extent. These results were true even when adjusting for confounding factors, like smoking, alcohol abuse, and inactivity. 

Sleep Problems That Increase Your Risk of Stroke

There are many types of sleep disorders, and all can lead to health problems. The more of these sleep problems you have, the greater your risk of stroke according to the aforementioned study. If you have more than one of the below sleep issues, your risk of stroke may more than double: 


  • Not sleeping enough (less than 5 hours)
  • Sleeping too much (more than 9 hours)
  • Insomnia (trouble falling and staying asleep)
  • Not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep
  • Unplanned and long naps (over 1 hour)
  • Snoring 
  • Sleep apnea

Hot to Sleep Better and Lower Your Risk of Stroke

Sleep may seem like a passive state of inactivity. But sleep research discovered some decades ago that sleep is a highly active state — and one that takes a bit of effort on our part to be performed right [3]. With that said, here are steps to take for a good night’s sleep and lower stroke risk:

Work on your sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to healthy habits performed during the day and before bedtime that help promote sleep. Good daily habits like sticking to a healthy diet, regular exercising, and stress management are some examples. Good bedtime habits are avoiding alcohol and sedatives, limiting screen time, and creating a calm and cool sleep environment. 


Treat sleep problems on time

If you have stress-related insomnia, restless leg syndrome, snoring, and sleep apnea, it’s important to have these issues treated on time. That’s because these problems are easier to treat before they become chronic and cause other health problems. Some of these issues require professional assistance, but simple snoring, for example, can be treated at home by switching to a side sleeping position, allergy medication, air humidifiers, or oral appliances like the  Good Morning Snore Solution tongue-stabilizing device. 


References: 

  1. Mc Carthy CE, Yusuf S, Judge C, et al. Sleep Patterns and the Risk of Acute Stroke: Results from the INTERSTROKE International Case-Control Study [published online ahead of print, 2023 Apr 5].Neurology. 2023;10.1212/WNL.0000000000207249.doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000207249

  1. Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research.P T. 2018;43(12):758-763.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6281147/

  1. Brinkman JE, Reddy V, Sharma S. Physiology of Sleep. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; September 19, 2022.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29494118/#:~:text=It%20is%20an%20active%20state,has%20not%20been%20fully%20elucidated.



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