Stroke-Induced Sleep Disorders

If you've had a stroke, it's likely you'll have some problems sleeping. If your sleep difficulties continue over a period of time, you may have a stroke-induced sleep disorder.

Sleep-disordered breathing

Two-thirds of stroke survivors have a condition known as sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which is characterized by abnormal breathing patterns that interrupt your sleep during the night. As a result of SDB, you may be very sleepy during the day and have more difficulty concentrating or solving problems. SDB can be particularly dangerous for stroke survivors, as it can increase blood pressure and blood clotting, as well as put more strain on your heart.

Types of sleep disorders

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of SDB in stroke survivors, which causes you to stop breathing for 10 or more seconds, many times during the night.

Approximately 20 to 40 percent of stroke survivors experience sleep-wake cycle disorders, also known as “circadian disturbances,” which means that your sleep schedule is no longer determined by day and night.

Stroke survivors also frequently suffer from insomnia, which causes you to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.

Signs and symptoms

SDBs result in a number of symptoms, some that appear at night, others appear during the day.

Night symptoms may include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up during the night and gasping for breath
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increase in sweating
  • Insomnia

Day symptoms may include:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Depression


Sleep disorders following stroke may be treated in a variety of ways, including:

  • Losing weight
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding sleep medicines
  • Use of a specially designed dental appliance design to open airways during the night
  • Avoiding sleeping on your back
  • Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to open your airways

Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center
The Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center offers comprehensive care for stroke, including advanced diagnostic imaging, multi-modal treatment and rehabilitation for patients with stroke and cerebrovascular disease.

Physician specialists* at the Stroke Center have clinical and research expertise in:

  • Neurocritical care
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Interventional neuroradiology
  • Neurological rehabilitation

Members of the Stroke Center team work with specialists from the Shirley Ryan Abilitylab to optimize rehabilitation following stroke. Shirley Ryan Abilitylab physicians and occupational and physical therapists evaluate each patient's needs to help determine the most appropriate plan of care after discharge.

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital's new Wood-Prince Family Stroke Center enables Northwestern Medicine to enhance our existing stroke care and advance the emergency care we provide to residents of Lake County.

Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) has been awarded the Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation by The Joint Commission. This level of certification recognizes the significant resources in staff, training and state-of-the-art infrastructure that comprehensive stroke centers must have to treat complex cases, including:

  • Round-the-clock access to advanced imaging capabilities and treatment options including IVt-PA clot-dissolving medication, endovascular interventions and clinical trials
  • Staff who are educated to care for complex stroke patients throughout the continuum of care, from EMS to discharge
  • A specially trained multidisciplinary team* to coordinate individualized post-hospital care and goals for each patient
  • 24/7 access to a comprehensive stroke team* that includes neurologists, interventional neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons, neuro intensivists, neuro rehabilitation specialists, nurses, therapists, case managers and social workers

Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital has been awarded the Advanced Primary Stroke Center Certification by The Joint Commission. This certification recognizes that the services provided have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes. It is a signal to the community that the quality of care provided is effectively managed to meet the unique and specialized needs of the stroke patients. Services provided include:

  • Round-the-clock access to advanced imaging capabilities and treatment with IVt-PA clot-dissolving medication
  • Staff educated in the care of stroke patients throughout the continuum of care, from EMS to discharge     
  • Board-certified physicians* including neurologists and neurosurgeons
  • Rehabilitation services throughout the continuum of care including post discharge


In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.