(NewsUSA) - According to David H. Stone, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and member of the Society for Vascular Surgery, poor sleep is one factor that can lead to stroke.
"Research says less than six hours a night increases the risk of stroke symptoms four-fold among middle-age to older adults who had a normal weight and low risk for obstructive sleep apnea," said Dr. Stone. "Lack of sleep increases inflammation, blood pressure and the release of certain hormones, which create a greater stress response that increases stroke risk."
Tips for good sleep:
* Get a comfortable, firm bed for spine and body support and ease of movement. People with chronic pain can use a heated waterbed, airbed or foam mattress; an electric blanket, or mattress pad on low heat or a wool mattress pad that provides heat are useful for cool or damp nights.
* Temperatures higher than 75 degrees or less than 54 disrupt sleep. Researchers suggest cooler rather than hotter rooms; use a vaporizer or humidifier if needed as moist heat leads to better sleep. Clear space around the bed with only necessary items placed on a nightstand.
* Refrain from stimulants like cigarettes, diet pills and caffeine.
* Avoid electronic devices an hour before you go to bed -- they disrupt sleep rhythms.
* Avoid diuretics before bedtime. Unless told to increase fluids by your doctor, reduce them prior to sleep. Eating before bed is not recommended; a glass of warm milk at bedtime is acceptable.
* To wind down, read a chapter of a book, or take a warm bath. To fall asleep, try distraction. Count backwards or try relaxation tapes.
* Go to bed and get up at the same time daily. Afternoon naps are allowed, but not after dinner.
* Get outside on sunny days to regulate your body's internal clock. Exercise at the same time during the day but not before bed.
* Reset your sleep clock. Go to bed an hour earlier or later each day until you reach the hour you want to go to sleep.
To learn more about your vascular health, visit the Society for Vascular Surgery's website at www.VascularWeb.org.