People who have less than six hours of sleep every night are significantly raising their chance of having to pay for stroke treatments through international medical insurance policies, research has indicated.
A three-year study of 5,666 individuals with no history of transient ischemic attack, stroke and without a high likelihood of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), performed by scientists at US institution the University of Alabama at Birmingham, revealed sleeping patents can have an effect on strokes.
It found this is the most important factor in the likelihood of normal-weight adults with a low risk of OSA suffering from this type of cerebrovascular accident (CVA).
The research, which has been presented at the Sleep 2012 meeting, found that when adjustments had been made for body mass index, a strong relationship becomes apparent between those who sleep for less than six hours every day and the incidence of stroke as they become older.
However, there was no link noted between the symptoms of stroke and sleeping patterns among participants who were obese or overweight.
Researchers recorded demographic information, various health behaviours, depression symptoms, known risk factors for stroke and the symptoms of the first CVA.
It is thought that the findings of this investigation could be supported by further research from international healthcare specialists, eventually providing a strong argument for an increase in the public's and medical profession's awareness of the impact sleep has on stroke, especially among those who do not appear to have any other risk factors for CVA.
"In employed middle-aged to older adults, relatively free of major risk factors for stroke such as obesity and sleep-disordered breathing, short sleep duration may exact its own negative influence on stroke development," lead author of the study Megan Ruiter said.
"These results may serve as a preliminary basis for using sleep treatments to prevent the development of stroke," she added.
Symptoms of stroke include a drooping of the face, difficulty lifting the arms, garbled or slurred speech, weakness or numbness alongside one half of the body and the sudden loss of vision.