How does sleep affect blood pressure?

Dr. Michael Breus, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Research at the Boston University School of Medicine found that people who were sleeping above or below the recommended hours of daily sleep have an increased risk for hypertension.

Dr. Daniel Gottlieb, MD, MPH studied the responses of 2,813 men and 3,097 women, aged 40 to 100 years, to a questionnaire on sleep habits. He discovered that, compared to people sleeping between 7 and 8 hours per night, those sleeping less than 6 and between 6 and 7 hours per night, as well as those sleeping between 8 and 9 and 9 or more hours per night, had an increased prevalence of hypertension.

Gottlieb wrote "It suggests that adequate total sleep duration should be tested as a non-pharmacologic treatment modality in the management of patients with hypertension." Translated, that means that getting the right amount of sleep can be a good adjunctive treatment to your blood pressure pills.

Studies have shown that sleeping fewer than six hours a night could be linked to increased blood pressure. The reasons may be that sleep helps your body regulate stress hormones and helps the nervous system remain healthy.

Move the alarm ahead one hour on your bedside clock. Research shows that just one additional hour of sleep may be all you need to help reduce high blood pressure risk.

In fact, every additional hour of sleep you lose increases your risk of high blood pressure by 37 percent, according to a study of middle-aged adults.

Unfortunately, most people are losing ground when it comes to getting adequate shut-eye. In the five-year study, over 40 percent of the participants got fewer than six hours of sleep per night. And only a paltry 1 percent averaged eight or more hours nightly. That lack of sleep doesn't just leave your eyes bleary and your head cloudy. It puts all your body systems in a state of disarray.

When you don't get enough sleep, your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. Which in turn boosts your blood levels of stress hormones that put all your body systems into high gear. These hormones cause your pupils to dilate, your heart rate to spike and your digestion to slow. And probably worst of all, those stress hormones not only can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure but also can cause blood pressure to inch up permanently over time.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Your blood pressure is dramatically affected by how much sleep you get each night. Watch as Dr. Donnica Moore and Dr. Oz discuss the impact sleep has on your blood pressure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.