• Can Sleep Problems Alter Blood Pressure

    by Lauren King, PsyD
    on Jul 22nd, 2017

                                                                  Can Sleep Problems Alter Blood Pressure?
                                                                                  By Lauren King, PsyD

Inadequate sleep can have a number of effects on your mood, memory, and physical health. You have probably heard that some sleep problems are related to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes short, frequent disruptions to your breathing while you sleep. Sleep apnea contributes to poorer health, including higher blood pressure. However, you might not know that poor sleep in general (even without sleep apnea) can actually have an effect on blood pressure.

How does sleep have any influence on blood pressure? Long term, a low amount and poor quality of sleep could hurt your body's ability to regulate stress hormones, contributing to heightened blood pressure. Sleep specialists agree that inadequate sleep (particularly less than 6 hours per night) can elevate blood pressure levels.
Harvard Medical School released a study in 2011 that showed higher blood pressure was linked to poorer quality of sleep. Specifically, the study found men who spent less time in deep sleep (i.e., slow wave sleep) were more likely to develop higher blood pressures. Interestingly, elevated blood pressures are associated with both quality and quantity of sleep.

In recent years, the importance of sleep to physical health (including heart health) and mental health has become more and more apparent. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is the first line treatment for insomnia. Treatment of insomnia through CBT-I may have a positive impact on blood pressure by reducing blood pressure with improved sleep.

If you are interested in treating your insomnia with CBT-I or need evaluated for sleep apnea, contact Bluepoint Medical Associates at www.bluepointmed.com  or 703-385-8222. For more on Insomnia by Dr. King, please check out her video https://youtu.be/7Ng_-IHmDic


Maple M., Fung, M., Peters, K., Redline, S., Ziegler, M., Ancoli-Israel, S., Barrett-Connor, E., Stone, K. (2011). Decreased Slow Wave Sleep Increases Risk of Developing Hypertension in Elderly Men. Hypertension, 58(4), 596-603.

Author Lauren King, PsyD Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CBT-I Provider

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