Sleeping Soon After Dinner May Raise Stroke Risk

November 12, 2012

Sleeping Soon After Dinner May Raise Stroke Risk

If you wait an hour after eating before going to sleep then you have a 66% lower risk of having a stroke, researchers say

A study recently carried out by researchers from the University of Ioannina Medical School in Greece has been presented to the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2011. The study involved 1, 000 patients and a research team member was Cristina-Maria Kastorini, MSc, who is a nutritionist. The findings of the study suggests that we should all wait for a while after eating our last meal before going to sleep because going to bed too soon after eating increases your risk of having a stroke.

The association between eating and going to sleep too soon has been seen, however the cause and effect has not been proven. The study saw that if you wait more than an hour after eating before turning in for the night then you cut your risks of having a stroke by about 67%. And researcher Cristina-Maria Kastorini points out that for every 20 minutes more you wait you are another 10% less likely to develop a stroke.

Stroke Risk Decreases if you wait one hour before going to bed after eating

The breakdown of the study group was 50% healthy people, 25% were people who had already had a stroke and 25% had already had a stroke plus acute coronary syndrome. This causes a reduced flow of blood to the heart because of congested arteries and is a fairly common form of heart disease which can result in heart attack.

All participants completed questionnaires about eating and sleeping habits and answers were detailed and included when people ate and what they ate.

The findings showed that people who ate and then waited for between one hour and 70 minutes were 66% less liable to suffer a stroke. The risk was further lowered if the people waited even longer before settling down for the night. Between 70 minutes and 2 hours the risk diminished until people who waited that long between the meal and bed had a 76% decreased chance of having a stroke. Waiting longer than two hours showed very little extra benefit, but no reason for this could be found in this study.

The researchers considered that there may be a link between acute coronary syndrome and eating close to going to bed but no conclusions were drawn.

All of the normal lifestyle factors were considered and taken into account when examining the data. These factors include age, weight, diet, sex, amount of physical activity done regularly, diabetes, family history of heart disease, is the participant a smoker or not, cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The researchers are cautious and admit that there may be an, as yet unfound, factor common to the people who did not wait for more than an hour between eating and sleeping.

More research needed to clear up why waiting longer reduces stroke risk

Kastorini says that the study did not investigate why eating close to bedtime increased the risk of having a stroke as it was not in its remit. However earlier research has found that there is an association between eating and going to sleep too soon increasing the risk of reflux disease. The researcher expands that reflux disease is linked to sleep apnea which is a factor in the risk of having a stroke.

In contrast to the researcher¬ís thinking other experts have differing theories. David Holmes, MD, is a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and is also the American College of Cardiology President. And he says, “When we eat, blood sugar changes, cholesterol levels change, blood flow changes”. He thinks that, “All these temporary changes may affect stroke risk”.

Holmes accepts that this area of study only affects a small number of people but does think that further study investigating the link between time of eating and bedtime can only be positive.

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