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Optimal Sleep and Regular Exercise Prevent Stroke Risk

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Optimal Sleep and Regular Exercise Prevent Stroke Risk

The risk for stroke, a life-threatening condition caused by blocked or interrupted blood supply to the brain, could be eliminated by practicing two simple things: getting sufficient night sleep and being physically active.

A recent study by researchers at the New York University reiterated this, and also added that your sleep should be optimum, not more, not less.


Sleep Optimization:

The experts opined that seven to eight hours of night sleep is optimal and that sleeping for a shorter or longer duration could increase your stroke risk.

According to the study, those who slept:

I) for a duration of seven to eight hours were average sleepers who exhibited 25% lesser stroke risk

II) for more than eight hours were long sleepers who exhibited 146% increased stroke risk

III) for less than seven hours were short sleepers who exhibited 22% increased stroke risk

Benefits of Exercising In Preventing Stroke Risk:

The above study has also stated that exercising along with getting adequate sleep reduced stroke risk substantially. Exercise should be vigorous and done for 30 to 60 minutes three to six times a week.

Simple Lifestyle Changes Help Reduce Your Risk Of Stroke:

Lifestyle-related risk factors for stroke include reduced physical activities, smoking, and drinking while medical risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure and circulation problems.

The beneficial effects of positive lifestyle changes on the risk of stroke have been demonstrated earlier. Researchers suggest that lifestyle modifications like diet control, physical activity, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake reduce stroke risk. Practicing healthy lifestyle regimen was found to be associated with a reduction of stroke risk by 70% in people at high cardiovascular risk.

Physical Inactivity & Poor Sleep:

Sedentary life behavior is renowned to be related to non-communicable diseases like stroke, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. It also affects general musculoskeletal health.

People who were sleep deprived were found to have impaired physical as well as cognitive functioning. People in the western countries have been found to be sleep deprived and it is believed that sleeping has been reduced by two hours since the beginning of 20th century. While the optimal amount of sleep ranges from seven to eight hours, people have been reported to be sleeping for less than seven hours every night.

People who work in shifts, who are sleep deprived are renowned to be linked with higher rates of heart diseases. While it is an untold truth that people who suffer pain symptoms sleep less, it has been reported that they experienced lesser pain upon improving their sleep quality and quantity.

Several findings based on animal models have also reported that regular sleep is important in order to reduce tissue irritation and damage.

The Morgen study conducted by National Institute of Health & Environment, Netherlands has revealed that sufficient sleep every night and following another four lifestyle practices that could lower the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These lifestyle practices are:

a) Being physically active,

b) Following a healthy diet,

c) Non-smoking and

d) Moderate alcohol consumption

Influence of Healthy Lifestyle Practices:

A published study addressed the issue whether healthy lifestyle factors affected the incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD). Atherosclerosis results in thickening of the arteries and predisposes to stroke and heart attack.

Lifestyle factors like physical activities, non-smoking and dieting were all assessed through interviews and questionnaires. Then the researchers studied the incidence of ASCVD and its mortality rates. It was found that those who incorporated healthy lifestyle practices exhibited lower stroke risks. The study also suggested that healthy lifestyle practices were underutilized among those who had high-risks.

A Combination of Exercise and a Good Night's Sleep:

A study conducted in Japan found an inverse association between healthy lifestyle scores and mortality from stroke and other cardiovascular mortality in overweight as well as non-overweight individuals. Healthy lifestyle behaviors according to the study included: intake of fruits, fish, and milk; exercise; avoidance of smoking; moderate alcohol intake; and average sleep duration.


1. A good night's sleep: a minimum of seven hours every night.

2. Exercising at least 30 to 60 minutes twice or thrice every week.

3. Survivors of stroke might not be able to practice conventional exercise regimens. Therefore, low-to-moderate intensity aerobic activities such as walking and/or activities for muscle-strengthening are recommended.


1. Niewadaa M and Michel P. Lifestyle modification for stroke prevention: facts and fiction Curr Opin Neurol. 2016 Feb;29(1):9-13. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000285.

2.Liu Y, Wheaton AG, Chapman DP, Cunningham TJ, Lu H, Croft JB. Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults - United States, 2014.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Feb 19;65(6):137-41. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6506a1.

3. Hoevenaar-Blom MP, Spijkerman AM, Kromhout D, Verschuren WM. Sufficient sleep duration contributes to lower cardiovascular disease risk in addition to four traditional lifestyle factors: the MORGEN study. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2014 Nov;21(11):1367-75. doi: 10.1177/2047487313493057. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

4. Dean E, Söderlund A. What is the role of lifestyle behaviour change associated with non-communicable disease risk in managing musculoskeletal health conditions with special reference to chronic pain? BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015 Apr 13;16:87. doi: 10.1186/s12891-015-0545-y.

5. Booth Iii JN, Colantonio LD, Howard G, Safford MM, Banach M, Reynolds K, Cushman M, Muntner P. Healthy lifestyle factors and incident heart disease and mortality in candidates for primary prevention with statin therapy. HYPERLINK "http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26803243" \o "International journal of cardiology." Int J Cardiol. 2016 Mar 15;207:196-202. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.01.001. Epub 2016 Jan 7.

6. Eguchi E, Iso H, Tanabe N, Yatsuya H, Tamakoshi A; Japan Collaborative Cohort Study Group. Is the association between healthy lifestyle behaviors and cardiovascular mortality modified by overweight status? The Japan Collaborative Cohort Study. Prev Med. 2014 May;62:142-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.12.004.

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