People who sleep more than eight hours are more likely to have a stroke, research shows

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Lack of sleep has been linked with disruptions to the body’s metabolism
Corbis

Experts are unsure whether oversleeping is a cause or a symptom

Health Correspondent

People who sleep for more than eight hours a day are more likely to have a stroke, research has shown – but experts do not know the reason why.

A study of nearly 10,000 people carried out at the University of Cambridge found that those who took eight hours on average had a 46 per cent higher than average risk of having a stroke.

Adults tend to need between six and nine hours sleep to feel well-rested, but oversleeping has previously been linked with health problems such as diabetes or obesity.

However, it was unclear from this latest study whether sleeping for more than eight hours was actually causing the kind of cardiovascular problems that can lead to stroke, or whether it was merely an indicator or symptom of underlying conditions.

The study looked at people aged between 42 and 81 years of age. Researchers tracked their sleeping habits over nearly 10 years, in which time 346 of the participants suffered a stroke.

After adjusting for risk factors such as age and gender, people who said they slept for more than eight hours were found to have a 46 per cent higher risk. Those who slept for less than six hours, meanwhile, had an 18 per cent increased risk, although the researchers said there were so few people in this category that the finding may not be reliable.

Seven out of 10 participants reported sleeping between six and eight hours a day, and one in 10 said they slept for more than eight hours.

Read more:
Scientists discover 'stroke protection gene'

The small number who slept for fewer than six hours were more likely to be older, women and less active.

Professor Kay-Tee Khaw, of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, the study’s senior author said: “We need to understand the reasons behind the link between stress and stroke risk. What is happening in the body that causes this link? With further research we may find that excessive sleep proves to be an early indicator of increased stroke risk, particularly among older people.”

The study is published in the medical journal Neurology.

Lack of sleep has been linked with disruptions to the body’s metabolism and can also raise the levels of the so-called stress hormone, cortisol, both of which could lead to higher blood pressure and raise the likelihood stroke. Why too much sleep could have a similar outcome remains a mystery.

Dr Madina Kara, research manager at the Stroke Association, said the study did not amount to evidence that too much sleep led to stroke, and urged anyone with concerns about their health to speak to their GP.

“The known risk factors [for stroke] include high blood pressure, smoking and lack of exercise,” she said. “Eating healthily, getting active and quitting smoking can make a big difference in reducing your risk of stroke.”

Around 110,000 people have a stroke every year in England. It is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Strokes are caused by the blood supply to the brain being cut off. One in four people die after a stroke, and survivors can suffer long-lasting problems and disability caused by damage to brain. 

16 Comments
G.P.Cody
G.P.Cody 71 days ago
Anybody that uses an alarm clock to wake up is sleep deprived.
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Garrett-Lawrence
Garrett-Lawrence 71 days ago
Excellent reporting on the part of Mr. Cooper. Unfortunately, the "findings" appear to be based on an observational study, in lieu of a preferred experimental design. From a statistical perspective, correlation is not the same as causality. For more about this, please read: http://www.spankingfit.com/about-page/ It is my intuition that the optimal behavior in avoiding stroke is to engage in vigorous exercise combined with ample rest. Doctor Garrett
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Victor Hannover
Victor Hannover 73 days ago
I love sleep. Is my best moment. I think that a fast food and the stop in walk have more problems. But I respect the words of doctor and of the university. The health is all to the people, after if think at other world. Victor Hannover
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victoriakemme2
victoriakemme2 75 days ago
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I checked with the BBB and was told that it is all legit. How they can sell gift cards, laptops, cameras, and all kinds of goodies that we all want for 50-90% off, I don’t know I do know that I bought my son an ipad there for less than $100 and my husband a $250 Low gift cards for $48. Why would I even think about shopping anyþlace else ?
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chris
chris 75 days ago
Well then, it looks like I'll live forever.
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Sydney Ross Singer
Sydney Ross Singer 75 days ago
I am a medical anthropologist and have researched sleep. This effect of long hours sleeping on stroke incidence is likely caused by the increased pressure in the brain from sleeping too flat for long hours each night. This increases pressure in the brain and can cause a blood vessel to burst. Head of bed elevation of about 30 degrees reduces brain pressure and optimizes brain circulation, and can prevent strokes. Note that stroke victims should also be told to sleep with the head of the bed elevated to prevent further problems. For more, see my article Rest in Peace: How the way you sleep can be killing you. http://www.killerculture.com/rest-in-peace-how-the-way-you-sleep-can-be-killing-you/
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Garrett-Lawrence
Garrett-Lawrence 71 days ago
Although I do not "buy" the "findings" of the Cambridge Institute's study for reasons I stated above, I do find your hypothesis very interesting. Any experimental data to back it up? Garrett
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MeNotKnow
MeNotKnow 75 days ago
It could be lifestyle differences. Overall, people who have time to sleep for 10 hours may not be doing as much with their day, and may not be as active. Also, they may be more likely to have some fatiguing health condition that makes them want to sleep that long to begin with. Researchers would have to control for this, and find healthy, active people who sleep longer, and compare them to healthy, active people who sleep less.
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CXXL
CXXL 75 days ago
my grandmother was never overweight, never drank, never smoked, never wore make up, did daily meditation, weekly yoga, was a vegetarian, used chemical free toiletries, had less than 9 hours sleep, worked past retirement and still died from a stroke. All the things we have been told to do she did. She still had high blood pressure and died young.
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ncroeder
ncroeder 75 days ago
Those things your grandmother didn't do are risk factors, not guarantees. You increase your risk for a stroke by doing those things, but your genetics isn't a perfectly clean slate either. If a stroke is on the cards for you, it doesn't really matter how you live your life, just avoiding those risk factors can prevent you from having that stroke earlier than it comes naturally. If your grandmother did any of those things, she would have most likely had a stroke and died much younger than she did.
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Jack_Edward
Jack_Edward 75 days ago
Come on Cambridge keep cracking the whip. The same historic masters of slavery are still in charge today. I'm sure this study will be used to justify longer working hours somewhere down the line.
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zeromein
zeromein 75 days ago
Correlation is not causation. Try again, mates.
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Lirva May
Lirva May 75 days ago
this was explained in the first paragraph, or did you only read the headline?
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CXXL
CXXL 76 days ago
My grandmother was a vegetarian, didn't smoke, didn't drink, did daily meditation and weekly yoga and used organic chemical free toiletries. She still died of a stroke from high blood pressure.
She slept less than 8 hours a night and worked till beyond retirement.
what does that tell you!!!
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chiefwhippet
chiefwhippet 75 days ago
You never can tell?
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CXXL
CXXL 75 days ago
Exactly. Some things you cannot change. Life happens despite everything we pretend we can control.
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Charlie Cooper

Charlie Cooper is Health Reporter for the Independent