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Can Lack of Sleep Cause High Blood Pressure?

Can Lack of Sleep Cause High Blood Pressure?

A recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session has revealed a concerning link between sleep duration and high blood pressure. This has sent ripples through the medical community and beyond. The study found that around 15% of people aged between 40-75 may suffer from undiagnosed high blood pressure (hypertension) that occurs only at night-time. Because they are unaware of this condition and are not being treated for it, they are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart failure, and even death. This new research from the University of Oxford was published in the British Journal of General Practice.

In this blog post, we will delve into some essential facts about blood pressure and sleep.

What is the connection between Lack of Sleep and Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood against the walls of the arteries, which is crucial for cardiovascular health monitoring. If the blood pressure stays high for an extended period, it can lead to severe health complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage.

During sleep, our bodies undergo essential processes that help maintain cardiovascular balance, including blood pressure control and blood vessel function. A recent sleep study has discovered a significant connection between the duration of sleep and the probability of developing high blood pressure. The research found that people who slept less than seven hours a night were more likely to develop high blood pressure over time. This finding highlights the significance of getting enough sleep for the sake of our heart health.

Sleep deprivation not only affects physical health but also mental health. It is a major contributor to various mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. When we consistently fail to get enough sleep (or enough quality sleep), our brains do not get sufficient restorative processes, leading to emotional instability and decreased cognitive function.

What sleep position raises blood pressure?

You might be intrigued to know that your sleep position could also affect your blood pressure.

Sleeping on your back (supine position) may lead to obstructive sleep apnea in some individuals. (Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep, often due to the relaxation of throat muscles.) This condition can cause fluctuations in blood oxygen levels and trigger spikes in blood pressure. Conversely, sleeping on your stomach (prone position) may cause strain on the neck and spine, potentially leading to discomfort and difficulty breathing for some individuals. This discomfort could disrupt sleep quality and contribute to elevated blood pressure levels over time.

Not only can lack of sleep causes high blood pressure, it can negatively impact our ability to make sound judgments, decisions, and solve problems, which can hinder our performance in both professional and personal spheres. As a result, sacrificing sleep in the name of productivity can have long-term consequences on our efficiency and effectiveness.

To gain a better understanding of this complex relationship, lead researcher Hosseini suggests using polysomnography, a sophisticated and non-invasive technique that can evaluate sleep quality. By analyzing sleep patterns and their effects on blood pressure regulation, researchers can gain valuable insights into the intricate interplay between sleep and blood pressure.

Moreover, the study highlights the importance of standardized definitions in sleep research. Variations in reference sleep duration underscore the significance of uniformity in methodology to ensure that results are consistent and comparable across different studies. By using standardized definitions and methodologies, researchers can develop a better understanding of the relationship between sleep and productivity, and its impact on blood pressure regulation.

Tips for Improving Sleep Quality (especially for your blood pressure)

And finally, to ensure we get the restorative sleep that our bodies and minds need, we can follow these tips:

1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes better sleep quality.

2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.

3. Optimize your sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and cool. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that provide adequate support.

4. Limit exposure to screens before bed: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers at least an hour before bedtime.

5. Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake: Limit consumption of stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. These substances can disrupt sleep patterns and make it harder to fall asleep.

Also, you could read here on how to improve your effective sleep/ bedtime with little change to your lives. 

In all, according to co-author Professor Lionel Tarassenko, who is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and founder Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, blood pressure follows a cyclical pattern over 24 hours. Normally, it decreases during sleep at night and then rises after waking.

However, for “reverse dippers” who are usually elderly people and sometimes. have diabetes or kidney disease reversed. Their blood pressure goes up at night and decreases after waking, which means they have their lowest blood pressure during the day. As a result, day-time monitoring at home or in the GP clinic may falsely reassure them. To identify who is a reverse dipper through 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is therefore crucial.

According to co-author Professor Lionel Tarassenko, who is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and founder Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, blood pressure follows a cyclical pattern over 24 hours. Normally, it decreases during sleep at night and then rises after waking. However, for “reverse dippers” who are usually elderly people and sometimes have diabetes or kidney disease, the pattern is reversed.

Their blood pressure goes up at night and decreases after waking, which means they have their lowest blood pressure during the day. As a result, day-time monitoring at home or in the GP clinic may falsely reassure them. To identify who is a reverse dipper through 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is therefore crucial.

 

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