WE ALL have had that weird night of tossing and turning and sleep seemed like a distant and unreachable dream.
For some, it’s a nocturnal event, not being able to fall asleep or waking up in the early hours of the morning.
Many research bodies have linked the misery of insomnia to a whole range of complications, some of which can be fatal.
They range from diabetes and high blood pressure to depression and even heart attacks.
A new study was published in the Medical Journal American Academy of Neurology has now shown that people who suffer from insomnia and have trouble going to the toilet could be at a higher risk of stroke.
Researchers found that the risk was “much higher in people under the age of 50.”
However, they noted that the study doesn’t prove that insomnia symptoms can cause a stroke — it just shows a link between the two.
The team looked at 31,126 people, with an average age of 61 years, who had no history of stroke at the start of the study.
Participants were asked how often they had trouble falling asleep, woke up during the night or woke up too early and couldn’t get back to sleep, and how often they felt rested in the morning.
Their answers were given a score between zero and eight, with a higher number indicating more severe symptoms.
In the nine years that the researchers followed the participants, 2,101 of them suffered a stroke.
Researchers found that people with more severe sleep disorders had an increased risk of suffering from them.
Those who scored between one and four based on their answers about their insomnia had a 16 percent increased risk of stroke compared to people who didn’t struggle with insomnia.
Of the 19,149 people who scored up to four, 1,300 had a stroke, while 365 of the 6,282 people with no sleep disorder had a stroke.
According to the researchers, people who scored between five and eight on the sleep disorder scale were 51 percent more likely to have a stroke.
There were 5,695 people in this group, 436 of whom suffered a medical emergency.
The association between insomnia symptoms and stroke is stronger in participants under 50, the researchers pointed out, because those who scored between five and eight on the sleep disorder scale were almost four times more likely to have a stroke than people without symptoms.
Of the 458 people under the age of 50 with five to eight symptoms, 27 suffered a stroke.
People 50 and older with the same severity of symptoms had a 38 percent increased risk of stroke compared to people without symptoms.
Of the 654 people aged 50 and over with five to eight symptoms, 33 suffered a stroke.
What 4 symptoms of a stroke do you need to know about?
You can use the FAST method — which stands for Face, Arms, Speech, Time — to tell if someone is having a stroke:
f = Drooping face – if one side of a person’s face droops or is numb, ask them to smile. If it is uneven, you should consult a doctor.
A = Arm weakness – if one arm is weak or numb, you should ask the person to raise both arms. If an arm drifts down, it can indicate a stroke
S = Speech difficulties – if a person’s speech is slurred, this could be a sign of a stroke
T = Time to call 999 – if a person has the above signs, you need to call 999
Other stroke symptoms include:
- Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- difficulty finding words
- sudden blurred vision or loss of vision
- Sudden confusion, dizziness, or unsteadiness
- a sudden and severe headache
- Difficulty understanding what others are saying
- difficulties swallowing
Ischemic stroke, the most common form of the disease, occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
This is typically caused by the arteries narrowing over time
Study author and member of the American Academy of Neurology, Wendemi Sawadogo, said, “This difference in risk between these two age groups may be explained by the higher incidence of stroke at older ages.”
“The list of stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can grow with age, making insomnia symptoms one of many possible factors.”
“This striking difference suggests that treating insomnia symptoms at a younger age could be an effective stroke prevention strategy.”
“Future research should examine reducing the risk of stroke by treating sleep problems.”
dr Sawadogo said there are many sleep therapies that can help people improve the quality of their sleep.
“Therefore, identifying which sleep problems lead to an increased risk of stroke may enable earlier treatment or behavioral therapy for people with sleep disorders and potentially reduce their risk of stroke later in life,” he added.
According to the study, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression were other factors that increased the risk of stroke.
One of the downsides of the study was that it relied on people’s own reports of their insomnia, so the information was often inaccurate.
According to the NHSYou suffer from insomnia if you regularly:
- finds it difficult to fall asleep
- wake up several times during the night
- lying awake at night
- wakes up early and cannot go back to sleep
- Do you still feel tired after waking up?
- You find it difficult to take a nap during the day even though you are tired
- Feel tired and irritable during the day
- You find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you are tired
On average, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
You can try changing your sleep habits to reduce your insomnia symptoms by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, reading instead of scrolling to relax, making your bedroom dark and quiet, and getting some exercise during the day.
However, you should talk to a GP if changing your nighttime habits doesn’t help or you’ve had trouble sleeping for months.