Quality sleep and blood pressure: what is the relation between the two?

The number of people being diagnosed with prehypertension and hypertension is increasing worldwide. The increasing levels of blood pressure among children increase their risk of diagnosing cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. Modifiable risk factors like nutritional habits, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle can develop into childhood hypertension complications. Studies have found that inadequate sleep duration and lack of quality sleep lead to a higher risk of hypertension from a young age. 

Recent studies are focusing on the interrelation between duration, quality of sleep and blood pressure. One study was conducted with 2860 children as their research subjects. The boys and girls were diagnosed with hypertension and prehypertension by 26.3% and 22.4%, respectively. Both the genders showed reduced levels of hypertension and prehypertension with increased sleep duration. 

What do doctors and researchers say?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggested that children and adolescents require a fair amount of sleep to promote their optimal health. This also helps them in avoiding the higher risk of hypertension. Teenagers between the ages of 13-18 should sleep daily for 8-10 hours to promote their optimal health. 

An unhealthy sleep pattern or lack of quality sleep is responsible for high blood pressure, leading to severe cardiovascular complications. Most studies suggest that fewer hours of sleep, that is, less than 4 hours, and longer hours of sleep, more than 10 hours, are associated with hypertension. Women show a higher risk of hypertension when they do not sleep enough (1).  

Short and long hours of sleep: how do they affect?

During normal sleep conditions, the synthesis of catecholamines gets reduced, and the vagal system gets activated. However, when you are sleep deprived, the body takes it as a stressor. Thereby activating the sympathetic system that increases the synthesis of catecholamines. This condition leads to the constriction of blood vessels that increase blood pressure or hypertension (2)

Even excessive long hours of sleep can lead to a higher risk of hypertension. But the exact connection between long hours of sleep and blood pressure is not known. Doctors suggest that long hours of sleep leads to less physical activity that can increase hypertension chances. Moreover, more extended sleep periods are often accompanied by a lack of quality sleep and breathing disorders (3). They often lead to chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes, which are risk factors for hypertension

What is sleep hygiene?

Poor quality sleep is a worrying and distressing condition that can affect day to day activities and your overall health. Following a good sleep hygiene practice is a vital factor for improving sleep quality. Lack of quality sleep can cause sleep disorders, leading to the inability to maintain information and learn, poor judgment, and impaired mood (4)

Healthy sleep hygiene includes daily routines and a right bedroom environment that would promote uninterrupted, consistent sleep. Having a comfortable bedroom, following a stable sleep schedule, and relaxing pre-bedtime routine results in ideal sleep hygiene. 

Moreover, experiencing healthy sleep can be advantageous both mentally and physically. It can improve quality of life and productivity. Therefore, you would be able to maintain a healthy relationship between sleep and blood pressure. This will even prevent you from developing other chronic diseases due to a lack of quality sleep

Healthy Sleeping Habits

While almost 62% of Americans suffer from restless nights, you can easily avoid it by following healthy sleeping habits. Some of these include, 

  1. Avoid using electronics when you are preparing yourself to go to sleep. Refrain from watching tv and using tablets, laptops, and cellphones in your bed. Electronics keep you engaged, which makes the brain signal your body to stay awake. Therefore, before going to sleep, make sure your bedroom is calm, quiet, and dark. 

2. Limit nicotine and caffeine intake when you are trying to sleep. They are potent stimulants that can obstruct your sleep quality and sleep patterns. Most doctors advise patients with insomnia to limit their caffeine intake to a maximum of two servings every day. Moreover, you should also avoid smoking cigarettes as it can slow your brain activity. They can disturb your sleep duration and even cause nightmares. It is best to avoid nicotine and caffeine 6 hours before sleeping. 

3. Having a bed-time ritual of drinking chamomile tea can also be helpful. People have been consuming chamomile tea for thousands of years for reducing inflammation that can cause insomnia and restlessness. The tea has a mind tranquilizing effect that helps in inducing sleep. Apigenin is an antioxidant that is abundantly available in chamomile tea that offers a calming effect (5)

Wrapping Up

Your body regulates the stress hormones when you are sleeping. It also assists your nervous system to remain healthy. However, when you are not sleeping correctly, your body cannot regulate its stress hormones or maintain its nervous system’s health. Therefore, lack of quality sleep can lead to a higher risk of hypertension. 

Maintain your sleep hygiene by following these healthy sleeping habits. This will help you prevent yourself from hypertension at any point in your life. 

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