Middle-aged and older people who regularly sleep less than six hours a night may be significantly raising their risk of stroke, a new study suggests.
As much as a fourfold increased risk was seen among normal-weight people who didn't suffer from sleep apnea but got fewer than six hours of sleep each night, the researchers found. Both obesity and sleep apnea are known risk factors for stroke.
"Sleep is important," said lead researcher Megan Ruiter, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Medicine. "There is evidence that insufficient sleep ... increases all sorts of abnormal responses in the body."
Lack of sleep increases inflammation and causes increases in blood pressure and the release of certain hormones, all creating a greater stress response that can increase the risk for stroke, Ruiter said.
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