Do Your Sleeping Habits Put You at Greater Risk of Stroke?
It’s not a mystery that you need sleep. It’s essential to your health and wellbeing. However, millions of people don’t get enough sleep. Not only is a lack of sleep immediately detrimental to your productivity at work, but, over time, it may also increase your risk of developing health issues.
But lack of sleep may not be the only way to increase your risk of health conditions. Believe it or not, too much sleep might be bad for you. According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, researchers reported that people who slept more than eight hours a day had an increased risk of stroke.
An important factor of this study, though, is that the data on sleep duration was based on self-reports, which can be unreliable. Additionally, although the study identified that there is an association between long sleep time and the risk of stroke, it could not state that sleeping too much was the actual cause of stroke, said Dr. John Khoury, a board-certified neurologist and the associate medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Abington. The study also did not evaluate for the presence of obstructive sleep apnea in these patients, which is a known stroke risk factor.
“The verdict is still out on the direct link,” Dr. Khoury said of sleep and stroke risk. But there is no question that sleep is important to your health.
“We do require sleep. We know sleep is necessary – it helps improve our functions and the appropriate amount of sleep can help prevent heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular disorders,” he said. Getting
enough quality sleep also impacts your ability to learn, problem solve and make decisions.
Sleep maintains the balance of hormones that make you feel hungry or full – when you’re sleep deficient; it throws off this balance, causing you to feel hungrier. How your body reacts to insulin is also affected by sleep. A lack of sleep results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, because your body becomes resistant to insulin, which lends itself to a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Sleep also supports healthy growth and development in children and teens.
“Sleep is directly linked to growth hormones. Young adults and kids need enough sleep to grow,” Dr. Khoury said. Not only does deep sleep trigger the body to release this hormone that promotes growth, but it also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens and adults.
But how can you be sure you’re getting enough sleep?
“There is no one text book answer. Sleep time is varied – the average is eight hours, but some people sleep as little as six hours or as much as 10 hours and are perfectly fine,” he explained.
“If you keep a regular sleep time and a regular wake time, and if you feel refreshed when you wake up, and can do it without any significant help from an alarm clock, then you’ve gotten the right amount of sleep,” he said.
Keeping regular sleep and wake times, Dr. Khoury said, is the “single best thing a person can do” to make sure they get enough quality sleep. But that’s not the only thing you can do to help yourself get enough beauty rest.
“We tell people to keep good sleep hygiene, which includes telling them not to watch TV in bed, don’t play on tablets or cell phones and no caffeine in the evenings,” he said.
And when it comes to preventing a stroke, he recommends making sure you manage your blood pressure, quit smoking, exercise, get your weight under control, and see your doctor regularly to assess and manage any other risk factors.
Doing everything in your power to control your risk of stroke will help you sleep sounder at night.
Abington has six conveniently located Sleep Disorder Centers.
For information, visit www.abingtonhealth.org/brain or call 215-481-2226.