An important new study that appears in the June 8, 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine has found that middle-aged adults suffering from lack of sleep effects are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, contributes to 7 million deaths around the world each and every year. One third of American’s are affected.
In this latest work, University of Chicago researchers collected data such as blood pressure readings as well as other clinical, demographic and health variables on study subjects.
Duration of sleep was measured using surveys and a special sensor on the wrist that kept track of rest and activity for the 578 participants, all of an average age of 40.
In both 2000-2001 initial measurements were taken, then in 2005 and 2006 blood pressure, demographic and self reported sleep information were measured once again.
The researchers found that those who slept fewer hours are much more likely to have higher blood pressure readings than those who slept longer.
These sleep-starved adults were also more likely to develop high blood pressure over time.
After five years of the study, the team noted that each hour less of sleep was associated with a 37% increase in the odds of hypertension – both systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) numbers were elevated.
The study excluded subjects from the mix who were taking prescription medication for high blood pressure. They also used statistics to account for factors that might affect high blood pressure, things like age, sex and race. They saw that black men had the higher blood pressures than either white men or women.
“Identifying a novel lifestyle risk factor for high blood pressure could lead to new interventions to prevent or reduce high blood pressure,” Kristen L. Knutson’s team wrote.
“Laboratory studies of short-term sleep deprivation have suggested potential mechanisms for a causal link between sleep loss and hypertension.”
The average hours a sleep a night for the participants in the study was 6 hours.
Only a lucky 1% of subjects got more than 8 hours a night. Black men tended to get the fewest hours of sleep. “These two observations suggested the intriguing possibility that the well-documented higher blood pressure in African Americans and men might be partly related to sleep duration,” the study authors conclude.
The team believes that sleep deprivation affects the stress response of the body and this can raise the risk of developing hypertension.
Beyond being sure you get enough sleep by practicing healthy sleep habits, there are other things you can do to keep your blood pressure under control.
- Lose weight by eating fewer calories than you burn.
- Eat heart healthy food, plenty of fruits and veggies, low total fats and avoid food high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
- Reduce your salt intake and be sure to read labels to find the sodium in foods you buy.
- Practice moderation in alcohol consumption – no more than 2 drinks a day for men, 1 drink a day for women.
- Get more active – start slowly and build over time, at least 30 minutes a day of moderately intense activity is your goal.
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Lack Of Sleep Ups Risk Of High Blood Pressure Continued…
- Don’t smoke – if you do try to quit or cut down.
- Learn about your blood pressure reading and what you need to know about medication to treat your condition.
- If you’re prescribed high blood pressure medication, take it as prescribed.
No matter how old you are, or what shape you’re in, you can do something to lower your blood pressure.
This study encourages anyone who’s worried about lack of sleep effects on hypertension to ensure they have a regular sleep pattern, as well as taking some of the other steps experts recommend to keep your blood pressure under control.
To your good health,
Daily Health Bulletin Editor