According to researcher’s analysis, risk of suffering a stroke could be greater for adults who get more than eight hours of sleep per night. However, researchers do not know if long sleep is an actual cause, early warning sign, or perhaps consequence. Even so, there was an association found although after reviewing extensive amounts of research the link between long sleep and risk of stroke cannot be explained.
The study was published in the latest edition of the online journal, Neurology. As stated by Yue Leng, lead researcher with England’s University of Cambridge, prior studies show an association between sleep and stroke but in looking at the new analysis, it appears as if there is a direct link pertaining to the amount of sleep a person gets.
Leng agrees that based on the new findings, more research is needed. He also stated that reducing the amount of sleep each night is not going to reduce the risk of having a stroke since adequate sleep is imperative to overall good health.
As part of the latest study, roughly 9,700 people were followed. Sleep patterns of those participants were tracked, as well as any stroke incident for almost 10 years. The study also consisted of both men and women, with the average of 62. From 1998 to 2000, duration of sleep was reported to researchers, then again four years down the road. In addition to the hours of sleep per night, participants indicated who well they slept.
Reportedly, 70% of people involved in the study slept between six and eight hours a night, with one in ten having slept more. Of the people who slept less than six hours, as well as those who slept more than eight hours, were female, older, and lived a sedentary lifestyle.
Then in the follow-up period, 346 of the study participants experienced strokes. With a 46% increased risk of stroke was the people who got more than eight hours of sleep a night. With a risk of 18% was the group of people who slept less than six hours. As explained by Leng, because the group of people who got six hours of sleep or less was so small, statistics were somewhat unreliable.
Researchers also discovered that for both the latest study and prior studies, risk of stroke among people who slept more than eight hours per night was 50% higher, compared to people who slept between six and eight hours.
Change in sleep pattern also had a major impact on risk. For people who started out sleeping six hours a night but changed to eight, risk of having a stroke was nearly four times greater whereas for people with more consistent sleep averages there was no significant risk increase.
Leng stated that low levels of sleep cause stress hormones to climb, which in turn leads to higher blood pressure and therefore, increased risk of stroke. However, when the high blood pressure factor was eliminated, the link between prolonged sleep and risk of stroke remained.
As stated by Dr. Alberto Ramos, neurology assistant professor with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, long periods of sleep should be considered a warning sign but the bigger concern involves people who have changing patterns of sleep, going from little to more.