True or False: Insomnia Causes High Blood Pressure?
True or False: Insomnia Causes High Blood Pressure?

 

Is there a connection between not getting enough sleep and high blood pressure?

We’ll get to the answer to that question in just a moment down below on this page.

Plus, don’t miss the extra bonus section at the bottom of this page: 26 Secrets to a Great Night’s Sleep.

But first, let’s take a look at the science of sleep.

Why do we sleep?  Why would we need to spend around a third of our lives essentially “shut off”?

The exact reason for why we need sleep isn’t fully understood. But what science is beginning to understand is that sleep is essential not just for feeling refreshed in the morning – it even helps us learn.

One theory is that the body uses sleep to review and strengthen what we’ve learned during the day and ‘rewire’ it into our neural pathways.

According to Dr. Robert Stickgold of the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, “The brain is being modified while we sleep. When we wake up in the morning, in some way, we have a different brain – and it’s a brain that functions better.”

In clinical research studies, people that learn a task the night before are able to do it about 20% better after sleeping.

According to Matthew P. Walker of Harvard Medical School, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. It seems to be practice, with a night of sleep, that makes perfect. Sleep is enhancing that memory, so that when you come back the next day, you’re even better than where you were the day before.”

Beyond helping us learn, emerging research also suggests that when we have an overwhelming amount of information, sleep helps us find the best answer. The expression “Let me sleep on it” may actually have a deep biological basis.

There are countless examples of brilliant breakthroughs appearing in our dreams.
One famous example is from Paul McCartney on how he came up with the song “Yesterday”:

“I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, ‘That’s great, I wonder what that is?’ There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th — and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E. It all leads forward logically. I liked the melody a lot, but because I’d dreamed it, I couldn’t believe I’d written it. I thought, ‘No, I’ve never written anything like this before.’ But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing!”

Another example is from professional golfer Jack Nicklaus:

“Wednesday night I had a dream and it was about my golf swing. I was hitting them pretty good in the dream and all at once I realized I wasn’t holding the club the way I’ve actually been holding it lately. I’ve been having trouble collapsing my right arm taking the club head away from the ball, but I was doing it perfectly in my sleep. So when I came to the course yesterday morning I tried it the way I did in my dream and it worked. I shot a sixty-eight yesterday and a sixty-five today.”
San Francisco Chronicle, 27 June 1964

Insomnia

About one in three adults reports occasional or regular insomnia. That number only increases with age – as much as 60% of people over 60 report dealing with insomnia.

Not getting enough sleep may actually deprive the body of the ability to learn and solve problems. Even worse, there are serious health risks associated with sleep deprivation.

One clinical study published in the medical journal Sleep tracked nearly 10,000 adults between the ages of 32 and 49 and found that people that get less than seven hours of sleep were more likely to be obese.

A bit of background on why this would happen. The pineal gland, a pea-shaped gland at the base of the brain, produces melatonin at night. Melatonin is a powerful hormone and antioxidant that helps regulate your “biological clock”.

When you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t get enough melatonin.  Without enough melatonin, then another key “good” hormone, called “leptin,” goes down.  Leptin helps control appetite and weight.  Without enough leptin, a key “bad” hormone, called “ghelin,” goes up.  Ghelin triggers your hunger for fatty foods.

Simply put, it’s no coincidence that not enough sleep leads to that craving for a midnight snack.

Beyond obesity, other research has also established associations between not enough sleep and:
cancer, type 2 diabetes, headaches, depression, lower productivity at work and increased risk of having a car accident.

But getting back to the main question, is it true that not enough sleep is linked to high blood pressure?

In a research study conducted by the Sleep Research and Treatment Center at the Penn State College of Medicine, 1,741 randomly selected men and women agreed to spend the night in a sleep laboratory. Participants answered questionnaires about their health and agreed to have their sleep patterns monitored.

The conclusion:
The study revealed a direct connection between not enough sleep and high blood pressure.

In fact, people that tend to get less than five hours of sleep are five times more likely to have high blood pressure.

Solutions For Insomnia
There are two paths for dealing with insomnia:

1) Medication.
or
2) Get to the bottom of the real issue.

First, let’s take a look at door #1: Medication.
Just like with using medication to treat high blood pressure, treating insomnia with drugs is best only as a second line of defense when all scientifically valid natural methods have failed.

The reason for this is that sleep drugs don’t treat the underlying causes of insomnia, they only create the illusion of a solution.

 For example, the two most common causes of insomnia are stress and anxiety.  Taking a pill does nothing to help solve the real core issue.

Even worse, sleep drugs can disrupt your natural sleep patterns, create habit-forming addictions and many have a laundry list of nasty side-effects.

Now let’s take a look at door #2: Digging deeper for the real cause and finding a solution…

Here are 26 Secrets to A Great Night’s Sleep…

1.  Keep a regular sleep schedule.  Try keeping a “sleep log” – a record of when you go to bed a wake up, to help you be more consistent.  Also, whenever you have a particularly hard or easy time falling asleep, try to write down the things you did leading up to bedtime so you can repeat them or avoid them.

2.  Avoid being in bed for any reason other than sleep and intimacy.  Don’t lay in bed watching TV or surfing the web, you want your body to associate being in bed with getting to sleep.  Some sleep therapists suggest getting out of bed if it takes more than 15 minutes to fall asleep.

3.  Avoid naps.  You want to try to “save up” your sleep for bed time.

4.  Avoid checking email, paying bills, or doing anything that’s stressful or requires too much thought before bed.

5.  If you have a habit of staying up late to watch a particular TV show, see if you can find it online to watch it earlier on your own schedule, or consider recording it on a DVR to watch at your leisure.  It’s best to avoid TV and computer screens one hour before bed.

6.  Try to list your things to do tomorrow to avoid tossing and turning thinking about them.  Also, try listing any negative thoughts or worries. Putting them on paper helps you cut them down to size and gets them out of your head.

7.  Exercise during the day will help you sleep better at night, but avoid vigorous exercise right before bed.

8.  Do something relaxing like taking a bubble bath, a massaging foot spa, listening to mellow music, stretching, prayer or meditation.  Also, things like Automatic Massage Chairs, candles, aromatherapy and incense can help you unwind at the end of the day.

9.  If your bed leaves you sore in the morning, it might be time to consider a new mattress.  Many people, myself included, swear by Memory Foam Mattreses for a great night’s sleep.

10.  Avoid caffeine later in the day. Caffeine can take many hours to metabolize, an afternoon cup of tea could leave you staring at the ceiling later that night.  Also, it’s worth noting that even “decaf” coffee and tea has some caffeine.

11.  Avoid nicotine later in the day. Of course your best bet is to cut smoking out altogether.
If you want to quit smoking, here’s some great information.

12.  Avoid alcohol before bed. A drink before bed might help you fall asleep, but it reduces the depth and quality of your sleep.

13.  If you are on any medications, ask your doctor what prescriptions might be the cause of your insomnia. Some high blood pressure medications can cause insomnia. Also, if you are on more than one medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist what harmful interactions you might need to know about.  Some drugs, when mixed, create side effects that aren’t on the label of either drug.

14.  If you have medical issues like asthma, allergies, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, cancer, chronic pain, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or restless legs syndrome, ask your doctor if there’s a connection to your insomnia.

15.  Chamomile: Many people report that chamomile tea helps them sleep, ask your doctor if it might help you too.  Whenever you take any herbal remedies it’s important to let your doctor know as they can interact with prescriptions.

16.  Keep it dark: When any amount of light hits your eyes, it prevents your pineal gland from making melatonin. Watching TV, surfing the web, or reading a book before “lights out” means that your body is only then starting to produce melatonin in full swing. You might consider switching to a low-light routine before bed. Also, “blackout” curtains can help you get good sleep when the moon is bright and let you sleep more naturally into the morning.

17.  Keep it cool:  Try lowering the thermostat. Many people report better sleep in a cold room.

18.  Avoid eating too much before bed.

19.  Don’t “try” to fall asleep.  This sounds strange but the stress of “I can’t fall asleep” can actually keep you awake longer.

20.  Use cognitive control techniques to help eliminate anxious thoughts and worries that keep you awake.
Click here for more information on natural techniques to control anxiety.

21.  Try a digital sleep coach.  This will help you understand how your own natural sleep cycles work.
For more information, check out the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach.

22.  You can use a special deep relaxation technique called “binaural beats.”
To learn more about this method, check out SleepTracks Sleep Optimization Program.

23.  If you have sleep apnea, you might ask your doctor if a CPAP machine is right for you.

24.  White Noise and Nature Sounds can work wonders.  Consider a sound machine such as the
Ecotones Sound + Sleep Machine, the Marpac SleepMate, or the HoMedics Sound Spa Relaxation Sound Machine.

25.  To keep a serene atmosphere in your bedroom, consider a Gentle Chime Alarm Clock.

26.  The number one cause of insomnia is stress and anxiety. The number one best way to control stress and anxiety is Biofeedback.  Click here to learn more about how you can use Biofeedback to control stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and more.