Poor Sleep Can Raise Stroke Risk for Older Adults

Here's yet another reason why sleeping well is so important, particularly for older adults.

A new study at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto found that people who sleep poorly have a greater risk of developing hardened blood vessels in the brain, and that increases a person's chance of suffering a stroke or cognitive enhancement.

The research team looked at the brains of 315 people who underwent autopsies after they died. The people were 90 years old, on average, when they died, and 70 percent were women. At some point before they died, the people in the study had had their daily activity and sleep monitored for at least one full week. Based on the data from the monitoring, the researchers assessed the quality of the people's sleep.

Of all the people whose brains were examined, 29 percent had had a stroke and 61 percent had damage in blood vessels in their brains, which ranged from moderate to severe. The people whose sleep was often interrupted were 27 percent more likely to have hardened arteries in the brain than people who slept without interruption. Those people were also 31 percent more likely to have damage to brain tissue due to lack of oxygen, compared with those who slept without interruption.

The study found an association, but not a cause-and-effect relationship, between poor sleep and brain problems. It's possible that interrupted sleep could be either a cause or a consequence of the hardening of blood vessels in the brain.

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Sourced from: Live Science, Poor Sleep Tied to Hardened Brain Arteries in Older Adults