Insomnia raises risk of stroke in young adults, study finds

Insomnia raises risk of stroke in young adults, study finds

Adding to the list of things that may not be helping your insomnia is a 54 percent increase of stroke, according to one recent study out of Taiwan.

The research, published last week in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, examined randomly selected health records of more than 85,000 Taiwanese citizens—21,000 with insomnia and 64,000 without. According to the researchers, insomnia raised the risk of hospitalization for stroke by 54 percent over four year. Additionally, young adult insomniacs between the ages of 18 and 34 have an eight times higher risk of stroke than their non-sleep-deprived counterparts.

The researchers followed the participants, none of whom had a previous diagnosis of stroke or sleep apnea, over four years, who they divided into several groups:

  • Chronic or persistent insomnia lasting one to six months
  • Relapse insomnia, in which the condition recurred after more than six months at any time during the study
  • Remission insomnia, in which the condition was reported as cured within the study period

During the study, 583 insomniacs and 962 non-insomniacs were hospitalized for stroke. And chronic insomniacs showed a higher incidence of stroke than those in the remission group.

“We feel strongly that individuals with chronic insomnia, particularly younger persons, see their physician to have stroke risk factors assessed and, when indicated, treated appropriately,” says Dr. Ya-Wen Hsu, study author, of Chia Nan University and Chi-Mei Medical Center in Taiwan, in a statement. “Our findings also highlight the clinical importance of screening for insomnia at younger ages. Treating insomnia is also very important, whether by medication or cognitive therapy.”

Stroke has long been a known risk of severe sleep disorders, including insomnia and obstructive sleep disorder (OSA). This research adds to several recent studies about stroke, including one on diabetes raising stroke risk and exercise reducing it.

“We’ve long known that untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea can cause an increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack. And insomnia may carry a similar risk to overall health,” says Dr. Raina Gupta, neurologist and sleep specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “This is the first study that specifically looks at younger adults, who may have poor sleep or poor sleeping habits that are less frequently addressed.”

Dr. Gupta says this is a good wake-up call for young adults and their physicians to pay closer attention to potential sleep abnormalities.

Related Posts



  1. cordelia_79720 May 15, 2014 at 10:22 pm · Reply

    Overgeneralization…studies often forget “individual context” when they set up their large studies … like…how about if you are residing in mortal danger …
    While I always had trouble sleeping since childhood…got spanked by my mean engllish grandmother for not sleeping, which didn’t help at all…had recurrent nightmare from age of 3-ish until 19 yrs… like a middle east terrorist-kidnap movie, torture, murder and all …woke me three times a night, screaming each time, afraid to go back to sleep… happened once a week
    all those years … and no, adults all said they never even saw such a movie themselves and surely wouldn’t have taken me to it as a child … so, there it is … until I was first married, then I slept …unless he was gone off flying around the globe somewhere…

    and then, when I was alone and had a crazy drunken neighbor who smashed my fence, smashed my house windows, shoved letters threatening to kill me and how he’d do it through my mailslot …I couldn’t sleep nights then either… nor after the second husband tried to kill me
    putting me in coma for three days…I didn’t sleep then either since he had broken down the door to get at me…in sophisticated Ascot … and more recently, I’m in tornado alley, have had three tornadoes 2008/2011/2012 pass just 1+ mile around me … people I knew killed…the area in ruins rebuilt only to be torn down again …

    So…do you think I should defer to the conventional wisdom and just close my eyes and get to sleep … ? ! Sometimes, there are valid, real reasons people are deviating from the acceptable norms of society, and it is a great kindness to ask before drawing conclusions…I cannot tell you how hurtful and cruel people can be when they cannot tolerate “different” behaviours…and people seem more intolerant of difference nowadays with the stress and demands for conformity at work and everywhere …no one wants to be bothered with the nuisance of people who are “different” from the ever-narrowing acceptable norms of behaviour…

  2. cordelia_79720 May 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm · Reply

    …by the way…the woman in the picture at the top of the page/story looks so much like me I had to look twice…turned my laptop sideways to see …not my bedclothes or sheets … 🙂

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.