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Does Losing Sleep Cause High
Blood Pressure?
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October 5, 2011, last updated July 31, 2013

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other
members of our Editorial Board.]





Losing sleep? When you’re rushing from one thing to
another, worrying about your life, staying up late, and
getting up early to go to work, it can be easy to let sleep
slide.

But not sleeping enough, and not getting quality sleep,
significantly affects your health. A shot of caffeine may cure
your sleepiness for a few hours but it can’t restore your
valuable lost sleep.  

The American Heart Association reports that more than 74.5
million people in the United States suffer from
high blood
pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular
disease. Could some of these cases of high blood pressure
be prevented if we make sleep a priority? What effect does
losing sleep have on your blood pressure? How much sleep
can you afford to lose before it causes high blood pressure?

According to the Institute of Medicine, approximately 50 - 70
million adults in the United States suffer from chronic sleep
and wakefulness disorders. In the 2009 Behavioral Risk
Factor Surveillance System, analyzed by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention,  35.3% of respondents
reported getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night. Almost
38% reported falling asleep unintentionally during the day at
least once a month, and 4.7 percent reported falling asleep
or nodding off while driving in the last month. Do these
statistics add up to an unrecognized public health concern?

Does Losing Sleep Cause High Blood Pressure?


























Possibly. Experts believe that sleeping fewers than six hours
a night can cause an increase in blood pressure. If you
regularly sleep for five hours or less each night you could be
storing up heart problems for the future. It seems that when
you sleep your hypothalamus – an area in your brain that
controls hormones, body temperature and sleep – helps your
blood regulate stress hormones such as
cortisol. If the stress
hormones are poorly regulated over time through lack of
sleep, high blood pressure can occur.

A 2011 study from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
reported that small amounts of "slow wave sleep", one of
the deep stages of sleep, is strongly associated with an
increased risk of developing high blood pressure in older
men.

Men with the least amount of slow wave sleep had an 80
percent greater chance of developing high blood pressure.
Men are more likely to have low levels of slow wave sleep
than women, and these findings may partly explain the
greater prevalence of high blood pressure in men than
women.

During sleep, healthy people experience a drop of between
10% and 15% in systolic and diastolic blood pressure,
according to a 2013 study from Dr. Craig M. Phillips and Dr.
Denise M. O'Driscoll of the Woolcock Institute of Medical
Research in Australia. The normal drop is known as "BP
dipping".  The absence of BP dipping is strongly associated
with increases in your risk for high blood pressure and
stroke.

Certain sleep disorders are also linked with
high blood
pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 15 million
adults in the United States, according to the American Heart
Association. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where the upper
airway narrows and collapses many times during sleep.
Sleep
apnea causes brief periods of wakefulness that may not be
noticed but disrupt your sleep hundreds of times in a night.

According to experts at The Ohio State University,
obstructive sleep apnea is a risk factor for hypertension
because the pattern of disordered breathing causes oxidative
stress and inflammation, which leads to persistent high blood
pressure.

A 2010 research study from the University of Alabama at
Birmingham found “ a strong correlation between the
severity of obstructive sleep apnea and the risk and severity
of hypertension.”

Even more worrying – many people are unaware they have
either sleep apnea or high blood pressure.

Sleep disruption due to
restless legs syndrome can also
contribute to rising blood pressure. A 2007 study from the
University of Montreal’s Sacré-Coeur Hospital says the
movement of your legs can increase your blood pressure by
an average of 20 points for the systolic reading and by an
average of 11 points for the diastolic reading during the
night.

Losing sleep can also cause high blood pressure indirectly,
through an increased risk of obesity. When you sleep badly
you wake tired and can’t find the energy to go to the gym or
take a walk.

Unhealthy eating habits are also more easily sustained when
you feel tired, moody and unmotivated and when you stay
up late in front of the TV you have more time to snack and
drink.

People who sleep less are more likely to have lower amounts
of the hormone leptin, which suppresses the appetite, and
higher amounts of the hormone ghrelin, which increases
your appetite. Eating unhealthily and lack of exercise
contribute to obesity, which causes high blood pressure.

How to Improve Your Sleep and Prevent High Blood Pressure


1. Sleep 7 to 8 Hours a Night to Help Prevent High Blood
Pressure

You need 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye a night to prevent high
blood pressure. A 2010 research study from the Brigham
and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, which looked
at data from the 2004-2005 US National Health Interview
Survey, suggests a seven- or eight- hour sleep duration is
the most effective amount of sleep for reducing obesity,
hypertension and diabetes risk.

Make sleep a priority for the sake of your blood pressure and
your overall health. Establish a consistent sleep schedule and
bedtime routine, and create a comfortable environment for
sleep, free from TVs, laptops and cell phones.

2.
Sleeping Too Much Can Also Cause High Blood Pressure

When it comes to sleep and blood pressure, too much sleep
may be too much of a good thing.

Sleep enough, but don’t sleep too much. It seems
oversleeping is also linked with high blood pressure and
other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

A 2010 study from the University of Washington found that
getting too much sleep (10 hours or more)  was as bad as
too little sleep (six hours or less) in early pregnancy.

Both too little and too much sleep are associated with an
increased risk of high blood pressure in the third trimester.
(Read more about
high blood pressure during pregnancy
and natural remedies that can help to prevent it.)

A 2010 research study from the Department of Community
Medicine, West Virginia University School of Medicine agrees
that seven hours of sleep is the optimum amount for
preventing cardiovascular disease. This research looked at
results from the National Health Interview Survey 2005 and
found both shorter and longer periods of sleep resulted in a
greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

3.
Take a Nap to Lower Your Blood Pressure



Continue reading  page 1        page 2







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