Updated 13 February 2015

Depression after stroke linked to troubled sleep

Low spirits after a stroke are a key factor in daytime sleepiness, and nighttime awakenings, a Korean study found.


Stroke survivors with depression may be at increased risk for sleep problems, a new study suggests.

According to experts, sleep problems are common after stroke and associated with poor health.

In the new study, a team of researchers in Korea looked at nearly 300 people hospitalised with stroke.

Less than six hours sleep

They found that more than a fifth of them got less than six hours of sleep a night while they were hospitalised.

Three months later, 44 percent of the 199 patients who completed the follow-up still had night-time sleep problems, such as frequent night-time awakenings and too little sleep, the team said.

Although the study couldn't prove cause-and-effect, depression was the main factor associated with sleep problems.

Read: Feeling depressed? Go for a walk

The researchers, led by Smi Choi Kwon of Seoul National University, also found that 39 percent of the patients had more daytime sleepiness than they did before their stroke.

Daytime sleepiness was associated with fatigue, amount of stroke-related brain damage, and being female.

Kwon's group also used a device to look at just where the stroke had affected in the brain, in a subset of 54 patients.

Cerebral cortex

They looked especially at the cerebral cortex, a centre for sensory and motor function, as well as depression.

So-called "subcortical" stroke – affecting complex systems of arteries deep in the brain – seemed especially tied to disturbed sleep, the research team found.

The study was presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference.

Read: 6 bizarre sleep disorders

Experts note that findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Read More:

The seven steps to recovering from a stroke

How post traumatic stress disorder affects sleep

Depression's effect on pleasure is real

Image: Frustrated man listening to his alarm clock from Shutterstock


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Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

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