It has been proposed that sleep apnoea can increase blood pressure. What if you don’t sleep well, but don’t have sleep apnoea. Does that raise your blood pressure too?

Research suggests that sleeping five hours or less a night can, over time, increase the risk of develo- ping – or worsening – high blood pressure.

Sleeping between five and six hours a night may also increase high blood pressure risk.

This can occur with or without obstructive sleep apnoea, a sleep disorder in which you repeatedly stop and start breathing during sleep.

In one Mayo Clinic research study, participants were restricted to four hours of sleep each night for nine nights.

The same participants got nine hours of sleep each night during a second study visit.

When they slept four hours, study participants had an average systolic blood pressure reading (top number) during the night that was 10 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) higher than during the nine-hour sleep phase.

Research suggests that sleeping five hours or less a night can, over time, increase your risk of developing or worsening high blood pressure. — TNS

Research suggests that sleeping five hours or less a night can, over time, increase your risk of developing or worsening high blood pressure. Photo: TNS

In addition, the usual blood pressure dip that occurs at night wasn’t as pronounced when they were sleep-deprived.

It’s not fully understood why this occurs, but it’s thought that sleep helps regulate stress hormones and helps the nervous system to remain healthy.

Over time, lack of sleep could hurt your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, leading to high blood pressure.

Nearly everyone has a bad night or two of sleep now and then, but if you’re consistently getting less than six hours of sleep, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your rest.

Not only is poor sleep linked to elevated blood pressure, it can also have a big impact on your enjoyment of life and has been associated with other health risks, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, risk of accidents or falls, and even premature death. – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service