The findings suggest that people who have had a stroke or a mini-stroke, called a transient ischemic attack, be screened for sleep disorders. "Although sleep disorders are common after a stroke, very few stroke patients are tested for them," said study author Dirk Hermann from University Hospital Essen in Germany. "The results of our review show that should change, as people with sleep disorders may be more likely to have another stroke or other negative outcomes than people without sleep problems, such as having to go to a nursing home after leaving the hospital," Hermann noted.
The findings, published online in the journal Neurology, are based on a literature review.
For the literature review, the researchers examined dozens of studies that looked at the link between sleep disturbances and stroke. Sleep disorders generally fall into two categories -- sleep breathing problems and sleep-wake disorders. Sleep breathing problems like sleep apnea disrupt breathing while asleep. Sleep-wake disorders like insomnia and restless leg syndrome affect the amount of time spent asleep.
The review found evidence linking sleep breathing problems with stroke risk and recovery.
Sleep-wake disorders may also increase stroke risk and harm recovery, although there is less evidence to prove so, the researchers said.