People Struggling With Insomnia Symptoms Are At Risk Of This Condition

Sleep plays an incredibly important role in our wellbeing.
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While people over the age of 60 are often more susceptible to insomnia, the condition has some prevalence amongst young people, too.

In fact, in 2022, the NHS reported that 64% of young people aged 17 to 23 years old had a problem with sleep three or more times in the space of a week.

While insomnia symptoms are difficult to manage, the news worsens for under-50s as younger people suffering from insomnia symptoms are at a higher risk of having a stroke later in life, according to a new study published in Neurology.

The study involved 31,126 people with an average age of 61. None of the participants had experienced a stroke at the beginning of the study.

They were asked questions about how often they had trouble falling asleep, trouble sleeping through the night, trouble with waking up too early, as well as how often they couldn’t return to sleep, and how often they felt rested in the morning.

The response options included “most of the time”, “sometimes”, or “rarely or never”. Scores then ranged from zero to eight with a higher number meaning more severe symptoms.

Researchers then adjusted for other factors that can increase the risk of stroke including alcohol consumption, smoking and low levels of fitness.

Following these adjustments, researchers found that people who suffered from one to four symptoms of insomnia had a 16% increased risk of stroke compared to people with no symptoms.

Of the 19,149 people with one to four symptoms, 1,300 had a stroke. Of the 6,282 people with no symptoms, 365 experienced it.

The biggest impact was seen in those experiencing more (between five and eight) symptoms of insomnia, however, as they had a 51% higher risk of stroke compared to those without symptoms.

Of the 5,695 people with five to eight symptoms, 436 had a stroke.

Researchers found the link between insomnia symptoms and stroke was stronger in participants under the age of 50, with those who experienced five to eight symptoms of insomnia having nearly four times the risk of stroke compared to those with no symptoms.

Of the 458 people under 50 with five to eight symptoms, 27 had a stroke.

Study author Wendemi Sawadogo said: “This striking difference suggests that managing insomnia symptoms at a younger age may be an effective strategy for stroke prevention.”

People aged 50 or older with the same number of symptoms had a 38% increased risk of stroke compared to people with no symptoms. Of the 654 people 50 and over with five to eight symptoms, 33 had a stroke.

Symptoms of insomnia

The symptoms of insomnia, as outlined by the NHS, are:

  • Finding it hard to go to sleep
  • Waking up several times through the night
  • Lying awake at night
  • Waking up early and not being able to get to sleep
  • Still feeling tired after waking up
  • Finding it hard to nap during the day even when tired
  • Feeling tired and irritable during the day
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate during the day due to tiredness

If you’re struggling with these symptoms, speak to your GP who can direct you to the treatment that best suits your condition and lifestyle.