Poor sleep, high blood pressure?

If you suffer from poor and interrupted sleep, you may be more at risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a new research study.
A new study has revealed that men who donít regularly reach the deeper stages of sleep, known as slow-wave sleep, have a much higher chance of developing high blood pressure over men who more easily reach deeper levels of restorative sleep.
These results remained consistent despite other factors, like weight and length of sleep time.
According to Dr. Susan Redline, a well-noted sleep specialist based at Harvard Medical School, a lack of reaching the deepest levels of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of high-blood pressure and other health issues.
Published in the August 29th edition of the Journal of Hypertension, these results seem to confirm other research studies that have linked sleep problems with obesity and the risk of heart disease, and chronic illness.
Dr. Redline studied close to 800 adult men, as part off of a Sleep Disorder and Older Men research project.  At the beginning of this study, none of the men showed signs of high blood pressure. They all had ideal blood pressure readings in the 120/80 range.  However, when they returned for a follow-up a few years later, 243 of the men studied were diagnosed as having high blood pressure.
For the study, the men were separated into four distinct groups. Men with low amounts of slow-wave sleep were placed in one group. While men with high amounts of slow-wave sleep were placed in another.
Other factors like age, race, and BMI were taken into account as well. Even after considering these parameters there was still evidence of a significant statistical link between lack of slow-wave sleep and high blood pressure.  Issues like sleep-associated breathing disorders and overall time slept were also factored in by the researchers.
Redline has also observed that slow-wave sleep seems to decrease with age. She has noted that children spend about 40 percent of their nightly sleep in the slow-wave state, while healthy adults average bout 25 percent of their sleep time in the slow-wave state.
Also, her study revealed that older men averaged about  11 percent of their sleep in the slow-wave stage. Men in the lower of the groups averaged less than 4 percent.  Further investigations have revealed that older men have lower levels of slow-wave sleep than women do.
Itís important  to understand that while this study does reveal a link between slow-wave sleep and high blood pressure, it doesnít necessarily prove that there is a causality.
What the study does indicate, is that getting reaching regular levels of restorative sleep is very important. According to Dr. Alberto Ramos, from the University of Miami Sleep Disorders Clinic.
Most experts do concur that not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact over time. This can include an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Ramos does note that the both the level and quality of your nightly sleep is extremely important to a personís overall health. In fact, it may be just as important as the amount of sleep the average person achieves every evening.  And can help lower the risk of health problems and high-blood pressure.
The exact mechanism of how this works is not completely understood, however, both Redline and Ramos are  adamant that achieving deep levels of sleep is important.
Dr. Redline advises that during sleep a personís blood pressure falls. It also appears that most of this natural blood pressure drop occurs during the slow-wave cycle. She theorizes that this naturally occurring night-time drop in may aid in keeping blood pressure levels low during the day.
Dr. Ramos also agrees that this may be the explanation for the link between a good nightís sleep and overall cardiovascular health.
There are quite a few things that adults can do to increase the amount of deep sleep they get.  According to Dr. Redline itís important to avoid anything that interrupts sleep repeatedly and awakens you during the night.
Also assessment for disorders that interrupt your sleep, like sleep apnea, can also help you achieve a more restorative night’s sleep.
Both Ramos and Redline agree that itís important for adults to be mindful of sleep quality and not just how long you sleep.  Dr. Ramos noted that the link between the lack of deep sleep and hypertension remained consistent, even when weight was  researched as a factor. Those achieving the lowest level of deep  sleep were also heavier in weight than the other groups.  He advises that watching your weight may also have positive effects on your nightly sleep quality.