Taking longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep could mean high blood pressure

Taking longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep could mean high blood pressure

People who take longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep are three times as likely to suffer high blood pressure and heart problems, a study suggests. The research is the first to establish a link between difficulty in getting to sleep and hypertension, and related cardiac problems.


Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder in the general population. Around one in three people complaint of difficulties falling asleep, while 10 per cent go on to seek medical help for the problem. The study by Pennsylvania State University and Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, examined 315 participant, with an average age of 40, in a sleep laboratory.


The group was made up of more than 200 people who had reported trouble sleeping for at least six months, and almost 100 normal sleepers. Half took 14 minutes or less to fall asleep and half took more than 14 minutes to fall asleep.


Researchers found that those who spent longer tossing and turning were far more likely to suffer from high blood pressure. On average, those who took longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep had three times the risk of such problems. Those who took longer than 17 minutes to fall asleep were four times as likely to have high blood pressure, the research found.


However, the study did not establish whether the difficulties falling asleep were caused by the health problems. Those experiencing stress are more likely to suffer sleepless nights, and also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.


In addition, some medication for raised blood pressure – such as betablockers - can increase the risk of insomnia.


Dr Xiangdong Tang, a professor of sleep medicine at West China Hospital at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, said: "We observed a strong correlation between the degree of physiological hyperarousal (sleep difficulty) and hypertension.


Other factors such as obesity, sleep apnoea, diabetes, smoking, alcohol and caffeine use were also taken into account. Co-author Professor Alexandros Vgontzas, of Pennsylvania State University in the US, said the study also found that insomniacs were less likely to be able to fall asleep during the day, when given the chance to nap.


The study is published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension. Previous studies have suggested that those who sleep for five hours or less a night are at increased risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. But other studies have found no link.





By Laura Donnelly,


The Telegraph, Tuesday 27 January 2015




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