Long haul flights, sleep disruption and stroke

Restricted movements from cramped seating, as well as sleep disruption can raise risk of stroke

How does disrupted sleep affect one’s health?
Disruption can affect both the quality and quantity of sleep. They are equally important and have short- and long-term consequences. Some of the short-term consequences of sleep disruption include increased stress responses, emotional distress, mood and memory problems, and performance deficits. Long term problems can have a significant impact on cardiovascular system, including hypertension, stroke, diabetes and even cancer. Add these problems with DVT (deep vein thrombosis or blood clots) and you have a recipe for disaster.

What’s the link between sleep and stroke?
The most common sleep disorder associated with stroke is obstructive sleep apnea. This can cause a person to snore or to stop breathing entirely for several seconds before gasping for air, disrupting sleep in the process. One study cited in a report found that people with obstructive sleep apnea had a nearly twofold increase in stroke or death. Either because of the relation to an increase in blood pressure when the stability of sleep is disrupted by the brief awakenings, and/or obesity.

How can addressing a sleep disorder like OSA help prevent stroke?
Observational studies have demonstrated that among patients with OSA, CPAP is associated with a lower incidence of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events. Also, treatment of sleep apnea in patients with a recent mild stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) resulted in improved cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, better neurologic function and recovery.

With preventive measures during flights, stroke risks could be minimised. Drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, and exercising to move the feet and legs (taking walks around the cabin) and wearing compression stockings and getting enough sleep before a long-haul flight can help.

This article is brought to you by Snore Solutions International.