Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not Enough Sleep May Raise Blood Pressure For Women!

Women who sleep less than 7 hours each night may have a higher risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure). This finding was reported in the month of October 2007 in the journal Hypertension by researchers from Warwick Medical School in Coventry.

The British researchers studied more than 10,000 adults over a time span of 5 years. In comparison with women who typically slept for 7 hours a night, those who slept 6 hours and those who routinely slept no more than 5 hours were 42 percent and 31 percent respectively more likely to develop high blood pressure.

However, no clear relationship between amount of sleep and blood pressure was found among men. Such findings may suggest there might be a 'gender-specific' relationship between sleep deprivation and high blood pressure.

In the study, data from a long-term health study of 10,300 white British civil servants between the ages of 35 and 55 years old were used. Participants, who were free of high blood pressure in the years between 1997 and 1999 of the study, were reassessed in the years between 2003 and 2005. During these two periods, 76 percent and 68 percent, respectively, of the original group were included the evaluations.

The reassessment by the researchers revealed that 20 percent of the study participants were newly diagnosed with high blood pressure, and the risk was greater among women who had shorter sleep duration. Risk factors for heart disease like smoking, being overweight or having a sedentary lifestyle did partially contribute to the relationship. Nevertheless, an independent link between sleep and blood pressure remained.

Some previous studies have already linked poor sleep quality to an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, but most of them focused on people with the breathing disorder sleep apnea.

Some experts suspect that short sleep duration may cause the nervous system to be in a state of hyperactivity, which in turn affects systems throughout the body including the heart and blood vessels. This may eventually raise the blood pressure.

The researchers indicated that further studies are required to confirm the relationship between sleep duration and blood pressure levels, and to find out why these effects might be different in women and men.

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