Sleep and Stroke

Sleep and Stroke

If you want to boost your recovery while reducing your risk of recurrent stroke, then listen closely.

Sleep is really important. You probably already knew that because you came in from our other article, Why You Need Lots of Sleep after Stroke.

So instead of getting into the benefits of sleep, we’re going to dig into the details, like how much sleep you should get and how to identify and cure common sleeping disorders.

Let’s get started.

The Sleepy Sweet Spot

One study showed that getting less than 6 hours of sleep increases your risk of stroke. Another study showed that too much sleep – more than 8 hours a night – could also increase your risk of stroke.

So it seems that too little is bad, too much is bad, and Goldilocks approves because balance is key.

However, these studies are talking about your risk of stroke, not stroke recovery. So if you want to reduce your risk of stroke, get about 7 hours of sleep a night.

But if you want to help your brain recover after stroke, get way more than that (if that’s what your body wants). Then, once you’re recovered, go back to 7 solid hours of sleep a night to reduce your risk of recurrent stroke.

Post-Stroke Sleeping Disorders

After stroke, sleeping disorders like insomnia, irregular sleep-wake syndrome, and sleep apnea can become an issue.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you can’t sleep at night. This lack of sleep is often accompanied by a drowsy feeling during the day, which can set back your recovery.

Irregular sleep-wake syndrome occurs when you are no longer affected by the cycles of the day (i.e. sunlight during the day and darkness of night) and as a consequence, you develop disrupted sleeping patterns.

Sleep apnea is a condition where affected breathing disrupts your sleep. Sleep apnea is typically characterized by loud snoring and abrupt awakenings that are accompanied by shortness of breath, which can result in daytime tiredness.

Optimizing Your Shut Eye

To treat sleeping disorders, insomnia and irregular sleep-wake syndrome can sometimes be treated by lifestyle changes. If you have insomnia, try cutting back on coffee if you drink it, or start practicing some daily meditation.

For irregular sleep-wake syndrome, try adding more exercise into your day or try supplementing with melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy, before bedtime.

These solutions can help cure mild to moderate sleeping disorders, but if you continue to experience disrupted sleep, talk to your doctor.

Sleep apnea is a little harder to cure. For starters, you can try a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that will deliver a continuous flow of air into your nose or mouth. If that doesn’t work, there are different types of surgery options that you can discuss with your doctor.

You may also want to consider addressing any underlying issues of anxiety that could be preventing you from falling asleep.

Then, once you have all your ducks in a row, you can start optimizing your sleep for a healthy, happy stroke recovery.

Do you have any tricks that help you fall asleep?

Share them with us in the comments section below!

  • Santino Yabra

    I love this post! I couldn’t agree more.

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  • Victoria Rehn

    I am finally able to sleep 9 months after a hemorrhagic stroke. I read about stroke survivors need for sleep — at 3am, longing for sleep. I finally saw a new doctor who reviewed my medications and made one change — to take a med when I got home from work instead of taking it at bedtime. A week later, I started being able to sleep at a reasonable hour and sleep through the night. Amazing!

    Insist on getting help if you cannot sleep after a stroke. I was prescribed the med in rehab and they gave me sleeping pills to help me sleep. I thought not sleeping was due to the stroke. Ask questions. Don’t take sleeping pills — our brains need real sleep.

    • Flint

      Wow, thank you so much for sharing Victoria. That’s a really good point that goes overlooked! We’re going to update this post to include your insight 🙂 We think it will help a lot of people.