Dozing off during the day could raise stroke risk

Falling asleep while watching TV or reading a book may seem harmless, but a new study suggests that it could be doing more damage to healthy aging than some seniors might think. A recent study found that nodding off during the day is tied to a significantly higher stroke risk.

The research was conducted by scientists in New York and Florida who looked at statistics gathered from a 2004 study of around 2,000 older adults in their-mid 70s, according to The Wall Street Journal. The study asked participants to assess their risk of falling asleep during certain activities, including traveling in a moving car or sitting outside. During several years of follow-up study, the team found that seniors who rated their risk of falling asleep as severe were three times more likely to suffer a stroke.

"Daytime sleepiness is an independent risk factor for stroke and other vascular events," the researchers wrote. "These findings suggest the importance of screening for sleep problems at the primary care level."

The study highlights the impact that sleep disorders, regardless of the time of day, can have on senior health. In fact, separate research has found seniors with more stable sleep patterns are less likely to have to move to nursing homes later in life. Additionally, sleep disturbances have been tied to everything from disability to depression.