Those who have sleep issues – such as snoring – may be at greater risk of having a stroke, a study has found.
The research looked at 4,496 people – 2,238 of which previously had a stroke and 2,258 of which previously did not.
Participants were asked about their sleeping patterns and habits, including the amount of sleep they had, the quality of sleep, whether they took naps, if they snored or snorted during sleep, and if they had breathing problems.
The research revealed that getting too much sleep or not getting enough, taking long naps, having poor sleep quality, snoring, snorting and sleep apnoea – where breathing is disrupted – can increase risk.
The risk became higher for those suffering from more than five of these symptoms.
Experts said their findings, published in the Neurology journal, did not show that sleeping problems caused stroke but that there was an association.
It was also revealed that snorers were almost twice as likely as non-snorers to have a stroke.
Researchers found that people who slept for more than nine hours, or less than five, were more likely to have a stroke than people who had an average of seven hours.
Study author Christine McCarthy, from the University of Galway in Ireland, said: “Not only do our results suggest that individual sleep problems may increase a person’s risk of stroke, but having more than five of these symptoms may lead to five times the risk of stroke, compared to those who do not have any sleep problems.
“Our results suggest that sleep problems should be an area of focus for stroke prevention.”
What are some of the causes of snoring?
Snoring can occur when airflow through the mouth and nose is blocked, with the tongue, mouth, throat or airways in the nose vibrating as a person breathes.
The vibration happens as these parts of the body relax and narrow when a person sleeps.
The NHS says you’re more likely to snore due to these factors:
• Being overweight
• Alcohol consumption
• Sleeping position – mainly sleeping on your back
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Do Brits snore a lot more?
Independent research conducted by Mute Snoring and One Poll in 2022, looked at 2,000 adults each in the UK, US and Australia and analysed their sleep and snoring habits.
In the UK, this is what the study found:
• 72% of people said snoring affected their day-to-day life
• 46% of people were embarrassed by their snoring
• Around 40% of people turned to sugary foods to keep them awake in the day
• The research also found that 67% of snorers were in Brighton
They also found that British men outnumbered women when it came to snoring by a significant margin – 59% of men said they snored compared with 46% of women.
“Interestingly, when it comes to the ages of UK snorers, unlike in Australia, significant numbers of younger Brits confess to snoring,” the report says.