Everyone knows that getting seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for our health. Still, like most other health advice, increasing responsibilities make that easier said than done. Sleep deprivation is increasingly becoming common these days, with more and more people working overtime or staying up late due to personal responsibilities. But apart from the fatigue from low sleep quality and quantity, it can also impact blood pressure levels.
How sleep correlates to blood pressure
Getting enough rest is not just essential to our survival and well-being; it is also vital to heart health. This is backed by the American Heart Association recently adding healthy sleep to their Life’s Essential 8, a checklist for maintaining and improving cardiovascular health.
There is also a body of literature that ties the relationship between poor sleep quantity and quality and poor blood pressure management. However, it is less clear whether this link is causative or not. In short, sleep deprivation is among the many risk factors contributing to high blood pressure, alongside others, such as one’s family history, age, exercise frequency, smoking habits, and diet.
A phenomenon known as nocturnal dipping occurs when we slumber. It is when blood pressure lowers overnight, around a 10% drop. Researchers believe this is related to our body’s circadian rhythm, which makes sense given that we demand more from our heart when we are active while out and about during the day. Not getting good sleep prevents this drop in blood pressure since nocturnal non-dipping is linked to an increased cardiovascular and hypertensive risk.
How much sleep deprivation can impact the heart varies from person to person and depends on various factors, including the cause of the lack of good sleep. Physicians typically look at the sleep quality of patients with blood pressure that seems difficult to control and check whether they experience sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, in cases where sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep problems worsen hypertension, treating them can directly help reduce blood pressure.
Tips for getting better sleep
Not everyone with high blood pressure also has a sleep disorder. For many people, sleeplessness is simply a given due to our busy lives, which we sometimes have little control over. But still, since our health should always come first, optimising your sleep hygiene and making small changes that gradually lead to meaningful progress is recommended. Some ways to battle insomnia are:
- Regularly exercise, preferably early in the day
- Follow a consistent sleep-wake schedule, even during days off
- Minimise light exposure by removing lights and other distractions from the bedroom
- Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine, as well as eating three hours before going to sleep
- Limit screen time on devices that emit blue light or switch to night mode during the evenings
- Keep unnecessary stressors at bay by unplugging from social media and the news before bed
- Learn about revenge sleep procrastination and the steps to prevent it
Not getting enough sleep can cause more than just fatigue but potentially more serious conditions, such as high blood pressure. Therefore, despite having a busy schedule, it pays to make time for good quality rest to ensure your well-being is in tip-top shape. If your higher blood pressure causes other concerns, reach out to a certified medical professional today via the MCLNQ app, which lets you schedule an online medical consultation anywhere, anytime. Contact us today to learn more details!