Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just One More Reason to Get That Beauty Sleep

Lacking Sleep Boosts Risk of High Blood Pressure, Study Finds
By Nicole Ostrow
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Sleeping less than seven or eight hours a night as a routine puts people at risk for high blood pressure, a study found.

The less the adults participating in the research slept, the more likely they were to see their blood pressure rise, according to research published in yesterday’s Archives of Internal Medicine. For every hour of missed sleep, odds of developing the condition rose an average 37 percent over five years, said Kristen Knutson, the lead author. Skipping two hours sleep raised the blood pressure risk 86 percent.

More than 73 million American adults have high blood pressure and about 70 million suffer from chronic sleep problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure, according to the American Heart Association.

These study’s results “confirm what we’ve seen in the lab that there are health consequences to not getting enough sleep or not sleeping well,” said Knutson, a research associate and assistant professor at the University of Chicago. “People don’t respect sleep relative to diet and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Researchers in the study followed 578 adults who had their blood pressure and other health signs measured between 2000 and 2001. At the start of the study, the participants were aged 33 to 45 years old. The scientists also measured how long each participant slept using a sensor on the wrist that chronicles rest and activity at two different points in the study.

After five years, each participant’s blood pressure was checked again and each was asked about their sleep.

Six-Hour Average
The adults in the study slept an average of six hours each night. Only seven participants averaged eight or more hours of sleep each night, the researchers found.

In the study, 14 percent, or 75 people, developed high blood pressure during the trial, the authors said. A U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the rate of high blood pressure among those aged 25 to 74 years old was 15 percent, she said.

Lack of sleep may affect the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which controls how the body responds to stress through the fight or flight response, Knutson said. Chronic lack of sleep or sleep problems may have a long-term effect on the cardiovascular system, increasing high blood pressure, she said. Not getting enough sleep is also related to obesity and diabetes, affecting overall heart health, she said.

People should focus on sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes diet and exercise, Knutson said. Future studies need to examine whether improving sleep reduces a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure, she said.

The study, sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was part of a larger trial called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, which recruited patients aged 18 to 30 years old in 1985 and 1986 from Chicago, Minneapolis, Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama. The study’s results only included participants from Chicago.

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