Stroke risk increases slightly if you're middle-aged and sleep less than six hours a night, according to a recent study. If you're of normal weight and do not suffer from sleep apnea, your chances of having a stroke are increased fourfold. Lead researcher Megan Ruiter stated that getting an insignificant amount of sleep ultimately increases inflammation in the brain, causes increases in blood pressure, and generates the release of certain hormones, all of which are contributing factors.
Ruiter and company gathered data on approximately 5,600 individuals who had taken part in a study about now geography and race affect your chances of having a stroke. After sorting through all of the data and conducting follow-ups, researchers discovered that the chances of suffering a stroke increased in those individuals who were of normal weight and received less than six hours of sleep per night. Interestingly, the same conclusions were not reached in those who were considered overweight or obese.
"Sleep is important," Ruiter explained. "There is evidence that insufficient sleep increases all sorts of abnormal responses in the body." It's worth noting, however, that researchers did not find a direct correlation between a lack of sleep and strokes.
"We know that in about a third of patients with ischemic stroke, doctors are unable to define a cause," Dr. Michael Frankel, director of vascular neurology at Emory University said. "Reduction in sleep may be contributing in some of these patients. For those of us who chronically work long hours, we may need to listen closely to these findings and adjust our lifestyle to reduce our risk of stroke."
In addition to getting a handle on their sleep schedule, other things individuals can do to reduce their chance of stroke include eating a balanced diet, exercising, cutting back on alcoholic drinks, and having regular check-ups.