Sleep Problems and Stroke

Facts About the Relationship Between Sleep Problems and Stroke

Sad Asian woman laying in bed
Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images

Sleep problems and stroke often go hand in hand. Some strokes can lead to sleep problems, while some sleep problems increase the risk of stroke.

Below are a group of articles that describe the most common problems created by the unfortunate relationship between poor sleep and stroke.

What Is a Sleep Disorder?

You may have trouble sleeping because of a bad mattress, a bad habit to watch TV into the morning hours, or constant worry.

Does that mean you have a sleep disorder? What exactly is a sleep disorder anyway?

Types of sleep disorders

There are many causes of sleep disorders:

  • Disordered breathing – The most common of these disorders is obstructive sleep apnea, but other causes such as central sleep apnea can cause similar problems.
  • Excessive desire to sleep at inappropriate times. These include diseases such as narcolepsy, idiopathic and post-traumatic hypersomnia.
  • Periodic inappropriate limb movements at night: A common disorder of this type is restless leg syndrome.
  • Disorganized biologic or circadian sleep rhythms (sleep clock).
  • Episodes of terror and confusion during sleep. Such episodes include the so-called “parasomnias”, confusional arousals from sleep, feelings of terror during sleep and sleepwalking.
  • Seizures at night.
  • Inability to initiate or maintain sleep.

The Connection Between Sleep Issues and Stroke

Many things can cause you to lose sleep at night: your loud neighbor, the economy, trouble in your love life.

These are benign, and will probably not increase your stroke risk significantly. However, some causes of poor sleep are much more dangerous. Learn about the causes and dangerous effects of some troubling forms of sleep disorders.

How Are Sleep Disorders Diagnosed?

If you've been having trouble sleeping for a while, it may be time to look deeper into it.

Consultation with a specialist may save you a great deal of headache, tiredness during the day and perhaps -- in the case of increased risk of stroke -- even your life.

A sleep study can be extremely helpful. Also called polysomnography, a sleep study is a special test that is performed in order to better characterize the cause of a given sleep disorder. A sleep study consists of a complex array of recording devices that monitor multiple parameters of your normal body functions while you are sleeping.

These parameters include eye movements (electro-oculogram), brain waves (electroencephalogram), heart rate and rhythm (electrocardiogram), muscle function (electromyogram), air flow through the nose and mouth, respiratory effort, and blood oxygen levels.

Measurements of these different parameters while you sleep tell sleep doctors (usually neurologists) whether your brain is cruising appropriately through the different stages of sleep, whether there are involuntary muscle movements that could be interrupting your sleep (for example, leg movements in restless leg syndrome), and whether your breathing patterns are normal during sleep.

Video and audio recordings of your sleep are also performed during a typical sleep study.

When breathing problems are found during sleep, this kind of study can be extremely helpful in differentiating obstructive sleep apnea from other causes of apnea.

Essential Information About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Few sleep disorders can be as troublesome as obstructive sleep apnea. Learn about the causes, effects, possible treatments and ways to avoid this rather nightmarish sleep disorder.

Continue Reading