How To Avoid Strokes

(NC)  -- What will you do with the extra hour when the clocks fall back this season? More and more research is saying we should get more sleep.

With almost one-third of Canadians 50+ years-old not getting enough sleep (six hours, or less than six hours), many may be unknowingly putting their health at risk, according to research.

One study in particular found people aged 45+ with a normal body weight who get less than six hours of sleep a night, are four times more likely to suffer from stroke symptoms. What's more, if they have a heart condition called atrial fibrillation (AF) and are 55+ years-old, they're at an even greater risk of stroke. In fact the risk of ischemic stroke (a blood blockage to the brain) increases by three to five times. Lack of sleep has also been linked to other serious health issues, like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

So how can you keep yourself from falling into bad sleeping habits this fall?

Hit the sheets at your usual time: Train your brain by keeping your sleep pattern consistent – don't deviate from your regular bedtime.

Get into a pre-sleep routine: Resist the urge to watch an extra hour of television by finding activities that help you wind down. For example, take a warm bath, listen to soothing music, or read. Avoid activities that may prevent you from falling asleep right away, such as exercise or drinking caffeinated beverages.

Speak with your doctor: If you're around the age of 55 or older, speak with your doctor to determine your risk of stroke due to AF in addition to other serious illnesses like heart disease. If you have AF, ensure you're getting the treatment that provides the best protection from all types of stroke.

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