Insomnia and Hypertension Are Linked in Women, Says Study

According to researchers, women who sleep for fewer than seven to eight hours at night are more likely to develop hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital's Channing Division of Network Medicine studied 66,122 Nurses' Health Study II (NHS2) cohort members between the ages of 25 and 42 from 2001 to 2017. All individuals were free of hypertension at the start of the study.

Researchers led by Brigham and Harvard Medical School research fellow, Shahab Haghayegh, gathered data on participants' age, race, body mass index (BMI), nutrition, way of life, level of physical activity, history of sleep apnea, and family history of high blood pressure. Every two years, they measured the prevalence of hypertension in the cohort.

Data analyses published in the journal Hypertension showed that women who had trouble falling asleep, or insomnia, typically had higher BMIs, lower levels of physical activity, and worse diets.

Researchers also discovered that those who had trouble sleeping were more likely to smoke, consume alcohol, and have gone through menopause in the past.

Insomnia is defined as the inability to fall or remain asleep long enough to wake up feeling refreshed. According to the data gathered, women who slept less than seven to eight hours a night had a considerably greater chance of getting hypertension among the 25,987 instances documented throughout the follow-up.

This study highlights yet another reason why getting a good night's sleep is so important.

- Shahab Haghayegh

Although the precise nature of the connection between sleep and the risk of hypertension is uncertain, according to Haghayegh, sleep problems can set off a series of circumstances that might raise cardiac output, arterial stiffness, and salt retention, which may increase the risk of hypertension.

The function of the cells that control the vascular tone and blood vessel constriction/relaxation can both be affected by disturbances to the sleep/wake cycle. Researchers intend to broaden their research to include males and nonbinary individuals, even though this study solely examined the relationship between sleep and hypertension in women.

The second constraint is that data on sleep quality could only be gathered at specific times during the trial. The study's wider participant pool and lengthy follow-up period are two of its advantages.

Haghayegh believes that these results do not prove causation, and is interested in learning more about this connection and how treating one issue may also help with the other.

In upcoming clinical investigations, he intends to research if sleep medicines could lower blood pressure.

He concludes: "The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends sleeping seven or more hours a night, and if you cannot fall or stay asleep, it might be worth exploring why that is."


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