Insomnia Increases the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Studies have shown that insomnia increases the risk of heart attack or stroke because not sleeping well causes irregularities in your cardiovascular system. Learn some tricks to combat insomnia and stay healthy!
Insomnia Increases the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Last update: 27 February, 2019

It’s logical to discuss insomnia and related problems regularly and in detail. Despite the fact that sleep has a fundamental function in our body, insomnia continues to be a problem that affects more and more people every day. In addition, it’s been found that insomnia increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

While insomnia can lower your quality of life, a heart attack or stroke could end your life.

During the night, our body rests and regenerates from all the fatigue accumulated that day. Therefore, when we don’t sleep well, we suffer in ways we can’t even imagine. 

We are increasingly aware of the importance of taking care of ourselves. However, the competitiveness of our society and the demanding nature of our jobs cause us to ignore certain aspects, such as good sleep and hygiene.

We do this so much so that many people just associate insomnia with not sleeping all night. However, its scope is much greater.

Essentially, insomnia encompasses all the phenomena that prevent you from resting continuously during the night. Therefore, whenever this happens, you don’t recover from the day as well you should.

Although the consequences of this condition can vary quite a lot, recent research in China has revealed that insomnia increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Insomnia Increases the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Woman having heart attack chest pains insomnia increases risk of heart attack

In a macro study, a total of 15 studies involving the medical history of 16,098 participants were reviewed.

During the registered period, 11,702 cases of cardiovascular or coronary accidents were detected. All of the patients had had symptoms of insomnia during the study.

However, it’s striking that this problem doesn’t occur in patients who wake up before their alarm goes off.

Rather, it affects those who take a long time to fall asleep or, if they succeed, those whose sleep is interrupted. As a result, the body suffers from a sleep debt that can culminate in a problem of this type.

However, Qiao He, the study’s supervisor, says that it’s still difficult to determine the exact relationship between the two phenomena.

  • On the other hand, it’s clear that a lack of sleep affects metabolism.
  • As a result, this alters blood pressure, as well as inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines. All are involved in cerebral or coronary infarction. Therefore, the researchers were able to come to the conclusion that insomnia increases the risk of cardiovascular events.

Nonetheless, this issue does not affect everyone in the same way.

Woman staring at alarm clock insomnia increases the risk of heart attack

  • Women have a higher risk this happening to them because they are more likely to have insomnia. This is due to hormonal changes and their response to stress, among other reasons.
  • Therefore, we recommend that everyone (especially women) pay attention to the quality of their sleep.

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

1. Exercise

Physical exercise not only tires you out, but also produces substances in the brain that prevent insomnia, such as serotonin.

Furthermore, it reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. Therefore, after a sports session, you find that you’re in a more positive mood and feel more relaxed.

As if this weren’t enough, exercise increases self-esteem, since it helps us overcome our mental and physical limits and improve our figure.

Couple running on outdoor trail insomnia increases the risk

2. Don’t go to sleep without feeling tired

Sometimes, we make the mistake of going to bed when we think it’s time to do so. However, this can become a problem if you have insomnia.

The pressure to sleep causes the opposite effect. In fact, we get stressed out because we can’t fall asleep right away.

Has it ever realized that you can never fall asleep early on the nights when you have to wake up earlier than usual the next day? In general, we go to bed earlier than we should and then the obsession to get to sleep leads to the opposite effect.

3. Establish sleep schedules to avoid the risk of stroke and heart attack

In addition, it’s essential to have some order in your life. The brain loves routine. Once you’ve established a sleep routine, it always works the same way. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, including the weekends.

Furthermore, once you develop a schedule, you’ll find you’re very active at nine o’clock in the morning and suddenly inexplicably begin to yawn at ten o’clock at night.

If you can’t sleep, get up and read something that bores you like that book that you could never finish.

Woman reading in bed insomnia increases the risk

Sleep Well to Avoid Cardiovascular Problems

Although the research results aren’t very encouraging, the good news is that there’s a way to beat insomnia. If you sleep well, there will be less chance of this condition appearing in your life.

Remember that insomnia increases the risk of developing other cardiovascular problems. Therefore, take care of your sleep problems and find a solution to your stress or anxiety.

All this is reason enough to consider getting a good night’s sleep, right?

Main image courtesy of ©

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  • Wu, M. P., Lin, H. J., Weng, S. F., Ho, C. H., Wang, J. J., & Hsu, Y. W. (2014). Insomnia subtypes and the subsequent risks of stroke: Report from a nationally representative cohort. Stroke.
  • Leppävuori, A., Pohjasvaara, T., Vataja, R., Kaste, M., & Erkinjuntti, T. (2002). Insomnia in ischemic stroke patients. Cerebrovascular Diseases.
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  • Leppävuori, A., Pohjasvaara, T., Vataja, R., Kaste, M., & Erkinjuntti, T. (2002). Insomnia in ischemic stroke patients. Cerebrovascular Diseases.