Sleep is a vital component of good health, but how much sleep do we really need? The answer is not as straightforward as one might think. While some people thrive on just a few hours of sleep a night, others need a solid eight hours to function properly. A new study published in the latest issue of Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology, has found that lack or excess sleep can increase the risk of stroke, even for those who take long naps.
The study, led by Professor Christine McGarrigle, a specialist in geriatric medicine at the National University of Ireland, Galway, analyzed data from a large international study called INTERSTROKE. The team examined 2,243 patients who had suffered their first stroke and 2,253 individuals without a history of stroke, with an average age of 52 and a balanced proportion of females and males.
The study found that people with too little or too much sleep, poor sleep quality, snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) were at a higher risk of stroke. The number of people with a daily sleep time of less than 5 hours was 162 in the patient group and only 43 in the control group. On the other hand, the number of people sleeping more than 9 hours was 151 in the patient group and 84 in the control group. People who took naps for more than an hour had an 88% higher risk of stroke than those who did not.
The study also found that people with breathing problems during sleep, such as snoring or sleep apnea, had a staggering 91% higher risk of stroke than those who did not. Particularly, people with sleep apnea were at nearly three times the risk of stroke. These results remained consistent even after controlling for other factors that could affect stroke risk, such as smoking, physical activity, depression, and alcohol consumption.
So, what is the right amount of sleep for adults? While there are various opinions on this topic, this study emphasizes that getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining good health, especially to reduce the risk of stroke. The stroke incidence rate was three times higher in people who slept less than 5 hours a day than in those who slept an average of 7 hours, and more than twice as high in people who slept more than 9 hours. In conclusion, it’s important to make sleep a priority and aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal health and well-being.