Scientists are just beginning to understand how sleep influences all aspects of your health. And now researchers have discovered a frequent sleep occurrence that increases your risk of stroke.
A study at the University of Cambridge in England shows that people who sleep more than eight hours a day run an increased chance of suffering a stroke.
The risk gets worse as you age: Older people who consistently sleep more than eight hours have a doubled risk of a stroke.
For more than nine years the researchers, who were with the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, analysed the health and sleep habits of about 10,000 people between the ages of 42 and 81 who were enrolled in a study called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC). Then, four years after the initial period, they contacted these people and surveyed them about their health and sleep patterns.
About 70 percent of the people said they slept between six and eight hours a night. Only about 10 percent slept more than eight hours. The longer sleepers tended to be older women who didn't get much exercise.
The people who said they slept more than eight hours each night during the entire study generally ran a greater stroke risk. And those who during the initial period had been short sleepers but who had become long sleepers by the end experienced a quadrupled risk of stroke.
"We need to understand the reasons behind the link between sleep and stroke risk," says researcher Kay-Tee Khaw. "What is happening in the body that causes this link? With further research, we may find that excessive sleep proves to be an early indicator of increased stroke risk, particularly among older people."
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