High Blood Pressure Linked to Sleepless Nights

According to new research, a bad night’s sleep may result in a spike in blood pressure that night and the following day.

The study conducted by the University of Arizona offers one possible explanation as to why sleep problems show an increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease.

The connection between poor sleep and cardiovascular health issues is well-established in the scientific literature; however, the reasoning is less understood.

The Study

Researchers studied 300 men and women, ages 21 to 70, with no history of heart problems. They wore portable blood pressure cuffs for two days in a row. The cuffs randomly took their blood pressure during 45-minute intervals throughout each day and overnight.

Participants wore wristwatch-like devices at night that measure movement. This helps determine their “sleep efficiency,” or the amount of time in bed spent sleeping soundly.

The Results

Overall, those who had lower sleep efficiency showed an increase in blood pressure during that restless night. They also had higher systolic blood pressure—the top number in a patient’s blood pressure reading—the next day.

More research is needed to understand why bad sleep raises blood pressure and what it could mean long-term for people with chronic sleep issues. These latest findings are an essential component when it comes to an understanding of the pathway through which sleep impacts overall cardiovascular health.

The study reinforces just how important a good night’s sleep can be. It’s not just the amount of time you spend in bed, but the quality of sleep you’re getting. Improving sleep quality can start with making simple changes and being proactive.

Doctors suggest keeping the phone in a different room. If your bedroom window faces the east, pull the shades. Mitigate anything that’s going to make you wake up.

For those with chronic sleep troubles, doctors advocate cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBTI, which focuses on making behavioral changes to improve sleep health.