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- Sleeping for more than 9 hours has a 23% larger risk of stroke.

- Napping for more than 90 minutes is associated with a 25% increase in stroke risk.

Would you ever consider there to be dangers of too much sleep? Well, in this blog post, we will examine what the science says.

I have no doubt most people recognize the dangers of too little sleep, but the risks associated with too much are well documented. Too much sleep means more than 9 hours.

The reasons behind this increase in stroke risk are unclear, but researchers believe it is connected to the lifestyle and weight of those longer sleepers and nappers. Those people who tend to sleep longer generally have larger waist circumferences coupled with a lack of exercise.

The most dangerous sleep/stroke risk comes from those who sleep 9 hours or longer during the night and nap for more than 90 minutes.

This remarkably boosts stroke risk to 85% compared to moderate night sleepers and nappers.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada, and more than 62,000 strokes occur yearly. It's only in recent years that the medical community has connected strokes to sleep. Interestingly, blood pressure dips during sleep and then rises in the morning. Most strokes happen in and around that blood pressure surge.

Quality not Quantity

It isn't just duration that increases stroke risk; those with poor quality sleep will further increase the dangers. Quality means solid and complete sleep cycles, little to no disruptions due to urination and waking feeling refreshed.

Other risk factors associated with stroke include the following, if any of them connect with you, sleep should be a primary focus.

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Heart Disease

  • Diabetes

  • Atherosclerosis

  • Obesity

  • Smoking Cigarettes

  • Physical Inactivity

  • Long-term Antibiotic Use

The Importance of Good Quality Sleep

The fact that sleep is essential for health has been evident forever, but only recently have scientists begun to unravel why exactly we need to sleep.

Humans sleep about one-third of their lives away, or at least they should. With insufficient sleep, we function poorly. Reaction times slow, attention lapses, the mood becomes liable, cognition is foggy and memory suffers. 

With all that, decision-making can become faulty and logic blurry, affecting every part of our lives.  

Benefits of Quality Sleep

Sleep enhances learning, memory, decision making and re-organization of memories. The brain is far from relaxing during sleep, it is active and working.

One reason children require more sleep is that they are more actively learning. Frequent naps help them learn motor and language skills more quickly. 

Growth Hormone is essential for development, growth and repair. It peaks soon after falling asleep in the evening. Sleep acts as an opportunity for the brain to detoxify, replenish antioxidants and repair. 

How much sleep do we need?

Newborn infants require more than 16 hours of sleep daily. This decreases as we age; it,,but from the age of 22 to 60, we need around 8.5 hours. 

Recent studies suggest that sleeping less than 6 hours is associated with an increase in mortality and more than 9 hours of sleep at night is associated with an even higher risk. 

Sleep deprivation causes increased hunger (especially for sugar) and promotes inflammation. Your immune health is, dependent on good-quality sleep.

Treatment of sleep issues

  • Avoid Stimulants: Coffee shouldn't be consumed 6 hours before bedtime as it disturbs sleep. Also, caffeine in the evening is more likely to cause stomach upset, irritability and fatigue.

  • Create a restful sleeping environment: Make sure your bed is comfortable, and your bedroom is dark, quiet and has a pleasant temperature. You are using a mobile, laptop or TV screen before bedtime is one of the biggest contributors to poor sleep. Decrease screens 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. 

  • Exercise: Getting sufficient exercise daily helps sleep. Vigorous or strenuous activity should be completed several hours before regular sleep time. 

  • Inositol: All your cells rely on this simple vitamin to effectively communicate with your sleep hormones.

Sleep well, my friends!

Simon Brazier. Dip HN, NNCP

truehope Canada, truehope, empower plus, mental health canada


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