Researchers from China have found a link between sleep troubles and high blood pressure. They have revealed that people having chronic insomnia, who take more than 14 minutes to fall asleep, have 300 percent higher risk of high blood pressure. In fact, the risk increases with the time one takes to fall asleep. However, this association does not surely indicate that high blood pressure is actually caused by lack of sleep. The study has been detailed in the journal Hypertension.
A person is said to have chronic insomnia if he or she encounters sleeping difficulties for more than six months. For the study, over 200 people having chronic insomnia and about 100 normal sleepers were examined. The average age of the participants was 40. The assessment was made at West China Hospital, Sichuan University, in Chengdu, China. As per the study authors, in individuals having insomnia with increased alertness during the day, or hyperarousal, there is an increased secretion of stress hormones like cortisol and this may result in hypertension.
Although insomnia is related to nighttime sleep disorder, it also includes a state of 24-hour higher (or hyper) arousal. Study co-author Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas, a professor of sleep research and treatment in the department of psychiatry at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., stated “Although insomniacs complain of fatigue and tiredness during the day, their problem is that they cannot relax and that they are hyper.” Vgontzas also mentioned “Measures that apply in sleep-deprived normal sleepers — napping, caffeine use or other stimulants to combat fatigue — do not apply in insomniacs. In fact, excessive caffeine worsens the hyper-arousal.”