Recent studies have now linked the lack of proper sleep with hypertension. So what constitutes as "proper sleep"? Studies have shown that in order for our bodies to reach a restorative physical and mental sleep state, we should be reaching the slow-wave stage of sleep regularly. This "slow-wave" phase of sleep is also essential for metabolic and good heart health. The more time one spends in this phase of sleep, the more their body is able to restore itself from daily physical and mental stresses.
"Compared to men who spent at least 17% of their sleep time in the slow-wave phase, those who spent less than 4% in this restful state had 83% higher odds of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) years later, the study found."
This is not the first time sleep disorders have been linked to heart health. Sleep problems have been linked to high blood pressure before. Sleep apnea, a chronic disorder in which a person wakes up struggling for breath several times during the night, is strongly linked to hypertension, although it’s not clear whether the disorder causes high blood pressure or vice versa—or whether the two conditions feed each other.
Untangling the relationship has been tricky in part because obesity increases the risk of both high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Obesity could play a role in the link between slow-wave sleep and hypertension as well; in a previous analysis, the authors of the current research found that insufficient slow-wave sleep was related to obesity.
In the new study, published today in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers at the University of California–San Diego and Harvard University assessed the sleep quality of the participants using polysomnography, a technique in which electrodes are used to track brain activity.
All of the men had normal blood pressure when they underwent the test, which was performed on a single night in their own beds (as opposed to in a sleep lab). When the researchers followed up with the men an average of 3.5 years later, roughly 31% of the study participants had developed hypertension.
"an important aspect of successful aging is the preservation of good sleep quality,” says Eve Van Cauter, PhD, the director of the Sleep, Metabolism, and Health Center at the University of Chicago.
So how do you make sure you're getting the proper amount of sleep? By practicing proper sleep hygiene: going to bed and waking up at the same time each day while avoiding alcohol and tobacco before bedtime.
But what if you're doing all these things but you're still waking up irritable, tired, & moody? Maybe you should look further....further into your bedroom that is...Is what you're sleeping on supporting a restful nights sleep or are you tossing and turning to gain comfort all night? It's not how long you sleep that matters, it's how deep you sleep!
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