Poor Sleep Linked to High Blood Pressure

We all know that fat, sodium and stress are the common risk factors of high blood pressure. What most people do not know is that poor quality sleep can also contribute to this condition, as new research has revealed.

The Study
This study, which was published in August 29, 2011 in the online edition of the journal Hypertension, found that men who had the lowest level of deep sleep had 80 percent higher risk of developing hypertension than men who had the highest level of deep sleep. The link remained strong despite varying factors such as weight and duration of sleep.

According to Dr. Susan Redline, the Peter C. Farrell Professor of Sleep Medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, reduction in deepest stage of sleep has a strong link to the development of high blood pressure.

The study involved 784 men and the average age was 75 years old. From 2003 to 2005, these men had normal blood pressure readings of 120/80. In 2007 to 2009, they came back for a follow-up checkup. The researchers found that 243 of these men developed high blood pressure. These men had the lowest deep stage sleep.

Despite the fact that the study did not find the cause and effect relationship between sleep and high blood pressure, it’s a must to ensure that you get proper sleep to decrease the risk of hypertension. It’s not just the quantity of the sleep that you should pay attention to. You already know that eight hours of sleep at night is necessary to give your body a chance to recuperate. But quality matters too.

Quality Sleep Tips
Induce good quality sleep with these practical techniques:

• Regular Sleep Schedule
First, keep a regular sleep schedule. Get in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm or the natural sleep-wake cycle. If you do this, it would be easier for you to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. You can do this by setting regular bedtime, napping to make up for lost sleep, and fighting after-dinner sleepiness. If you find yourself sleepy earlier than your schedule, do something that is mildly stimulating to keep yourself awake until it’s time to hit the sack.

• Melatonin
Second, boost the production of melatonin at night. Melatonin is the chemical that signals the brain that it is time to sleep. Total darkness helps in the production of this chemical. Avoid trouble in sleeping by turning off the lights in the room. Have a flashlight at your bedside for you to use if you need to get up in the middle of the night. Turn off the TV and computer as well. Impose an electronic curfew so that you can relax your mind at least an hour before you sleep.

• Relaxing Bedroom
Third, create a relaxing environment and bedtime routine. Your bedroom should evoke rest and relaxation. It shouldn’t have any electronic gadgets except for a music player which you can use to play soothing tunes at night. Ensure cool temperature and adequate ventilation. See to it too that your bed is comfortable.

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