(RxWiki News) Regularly skimping on sleep may do more than leave you groggy the next day. Habitually sleeping fewer than six hours a night also appears to increase the risk of stroke.
Researchers found that too little sleep among normal-weight adults could be among the top risk factors for stroke symptoms.
"Go to the hospital immediately with stroke symptoms."
Megan Ruiter, PhD, a lead author from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted that short sleep duration may have its own negative influence on developing a stroke. She speculated that briefer sleep times may be a precursor to other traditional stroke factors, and that once those factors are present they may become stronger risk factors than sleep alone.
During the study researchers analyzed 5,666 normal weight adults over the age of 45 with a low risk for obstructive sleep apnea who had participated in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study between 2003 and 2007.
Those patients, who were free of previous stroke, were monitored for stroke symptoms over a 3-year period. Investigators also recorded other stroke risk factors participants may have had, as well as information about other health behaviors.
Following adjustments for body mass index, researchers found that normal-weight individuals who sleep for less than six hours a night on a regular basis were more likely to suffer a stroke even when traditional risk factors were considered.
No association was found between too little sleep and stroke among overweight or obese participants.
Researchers indicated the findings could support increasing patient and doctor awareness of the impact of too little sleep, especially among individuals with few traditional risk factors for stroke.
The discovery also could suggest -- following additional studies to confirm the findings -- that offering sleep treatments could reduce the risk of stroke among those who chronically nab too few hours of sleep.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, was presented today at the SLEEP 2012 annual meeting in Boston, Mass.