New Delhi: A bad night’s sleep may result in a rise in blood pressure that night and the following day, according to a new study. The findings offer one possible explanation for why sleep problems increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from cardiovascular disease, researchers say. Scientific literature has increasingly established the link between poor sleep and cardiovascular health problems, but the reason for the relationship is less understood.
Researchers set out to learn more about the connection in a study of 300 men and women, ages 21 to 70, with no history of heart problems. Participants wore portable blood pressure cuffs for two consecutive days. The cuffs randomly took participants’ blood pressure during 45-minute intervals throughout each day and also overnight.
At night, participants wore actigraphy monitors—wristwatch-like devices that measure movement—to help determine “sleep efficiency,” or the amount of time in bed spent sleeping soundly. Overall, people 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.
“Blood pressure is one of the best predictors of cardiovascular health,” says Caroline Doyle, a graduate student in the psychology department at the University of Arizona.
“There is a lot of literature out there that shows sleep has some kind of impact on mortality and on cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of people in the country. We wanted to see if we could try to get a piece of that story—how sleep might be impacting disease through blood pressure.”
Improving sleep quality can start with making simple changes and being proactive, Ruiz says. “Keep the phone in a different room. If your bedroom window faces the east, pull the shades. For anything that’s going to cause you to waken, think ahead about what you can do to mitigate those effects.”