A good night’s sleep is invaluable, as researchers found that seniors sleeping poorly are at higher risk of stroke and a variety of other health problems. Experts have been underlining the importance of good quality sleep to prevent numerous health risks. This includes heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and, much more recently, dementia.
The team of Canadian researchers conducted a study on over 300 brains, belonging to participants with the median age of 90 years old, 70% of them women. Every single one of the subjects had undergone at least one full week of sleep monitoring before they died. It aided the researchers in making a link between potential brain damage and quality of sleep.
Participants woke up 7 times in an hour
More importantly, they focused on the issue of fragmented sleep. It means sudden awakenings or arousals during the night. Their findings showed that the average participant in the study woke as often as 7 times in a hour. Additional waking episodes led to more damage to the neural tissue.
According to the researchers, those who experienced fragmented sleeping were 27% more likely to have hardened brain arteries. That marks as a detrimental factor to blood circulation in the brain. In turn, it could cause blood vessel damage and several cognitive impairments, including those attributed to motor functions. Around 61% of the participants displayed damage to their blood vessels at the autopsy report.
This could also lead to increased chances of having a stroke, which caused the death of 29% of the patients.
Furthermore, senior citizens who suffered from disruptions during sleep were 30% more likely to display lack of oxygen in the brain. The problem could become severe in damaging neural tissue, and possibly leading to issues such as dementia. It is possible that repeating episodes of sudden awakenings through the night could also increase blood pressure.
According to lead author of the study, Dr. Andrew Lim, they admittedly didn’t provide a clear cause-and-effect relationship between blood circulation, risk of stroke, and fragmented sleep. This is due to the fact that their research was independent and did not take other risk factors into consideration. This included BMI, smoking habits, or other elements that could have enhanced the chances of having a stroke.
No cause-and-effect relationship established
The researchers were able to discover an association between the two, just not how. For example, their findings suggest that fragmented sleep could’ve impaired blood circulation to the brain, which increased the chance of stroke, or it’s vice versa. The faulty blood circulation could’ve caused the fragmented sleep. Or there is a third factor that caused both problems.
Image source: independent.co.uk