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This article discusses how the lack of sleep can increase risk of stroke. As we get older, our sleep patterns change and recent research in Canada has suggested that this could conceivably cause higher incidents of stroke in seniors. The research at Toronto University looked at the effect of oxygen deprivation on the brains of a number of elderly people, monitoring their sleep patterns and circadian rhythms (changes that happen in our bodies over a 24-hour period, usually in response to light and dark in the surrounding environment).
What the research team found was that most of the subjects suffered from disrupted sleep with these interruptions occurring as much as seven times every hour. This poor sleep is naturally thought to affect motor function and cognitive ability, particularly in older people. Subsequent autopsies of patient’s brains after they had died revealed that there were higher incidences of oxygen deprivation that could also contribute to the risk of stroke.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Lim, learning more about the sleep patterns of the elderly could not only reduce the risk of heart attack but also improve areas such as memory and other cognitive functions.
It has long been known that seniors often have problems with sleep. This can involve difficulty getting to sleep in the first place and waking up several times in the early hours. Sleep fragmentation can prevent people getting the deep sleep they need to maintain healthy motor and cognitive function. These poor sleeping habits may also have an effect on the development of conditions such as arteriosclerosis -– making it more likely that a senior will suffer from a stroke.
The Causes of Bad Sleep
Circadian rhythms become more disrupted as we grow older which is often why seniors want to go to bed earlier than perhaps they used to do in the past. If you have ever had a mom or dad who starts getting up very early in the morning, this is generally the reason. These changing sleep patterns can cause bad sleep in many elderly people.
Certain psychiatric illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases can also cause sleeping problems. The presence of dementia is one of the most common reasons why older people have trouble sleeping. Other health conditions including urinary tract disorders and heart problems can interfere with sleep. Older people are also more likely to suffer from sleep conditions such as insomnia and sleep apnea.
Scientists suspect that poor sleep causes damage to the heart and arteries which increases the risk of a stroke, but more research is required. In the meantime, you should do your best to obtain a good night’s sleep.
Improving the Quality of Your Sleep
There are a number of things that can be incorporated into daily life to help improve sleep patterns. For instance, having a full and busy day can make a big difference, not only for your energy levels in the evening but for improving your mood and sense of wellbeing. Regular exercise can really help improve the quality of sleep you have — if your body is tired, it is easier for your brain to switch off and for sleep to take hold.
Altering your diet may also improve the quality of your sleep. Changes that can be made to your diet include;
- Reducing your daily intake of caffeine or alcohol
- Avoiding large meals before bed
- Avoiding spicy food before bed
- Reducing your sugar intake
You can also improve your sleeping environment in a number of ways, including making the room darker, ensuring the bed is always well-made and clean, and removing any persistent noise sources, like ticking clocks.
Older people with sleeping problems should also avoid using electronic devices before going to bed and maintain a consistent sleep pattern. Reducing your stress may also help you sleep better at night.
How Home Care Can Help
Caregivers can provide elderly people with a great deal of assistance around the home. They can provide assistance with cooking, cleaning, laundry shopping, taking clients to medical appointments and much more.
A home care professional can also make changes to your diet and home environment to help you enjoy a good night sleep! They can take care of the chores around your home, so you are less worried and more relaxed — which also helps you rest well.
We hoped you enjoyed this article on the lack of sleep can increase risk of stroke! If you are having trouble sleeping or simply require some additional help around the home, contact All Heart Home Care at 619-736-4677. We offer free in-home consultations and we would love to explain the many benefits of using a home care service!