The authors of the review have recommended 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 M. Hermann, MD, of University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany.
Sleep apnea should be treated with a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), recommend the researchers as evidence has shown that its use can be effective for stroke patients.
For the literature review, a meta-analysis was prepared by the researchers after examining dozens of studies about link between sleep disorders and stroke.
Two kinds of sleep disorders – sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and sleep-wake disturbances (SWD) – are highly prevalent in stroke patients. SDBs like sleep apnea disrupt breathing while asleep. SWDs like insomnia, hypersomnia and restless leg syndrome affect the amount of time spent asleep. SWDs may increase stroke risk and harm recovery, although there is less evidence to prove so. Due to this lack of evidence and to possible side effects, the researchers have recommended caution for treatment of SWDs with drugs.