The Sleep-Blood Pressure Connection

Sleep is more important than most people would assume. It somehow rejuvenates the body, relaxes various internal systems, and helps the brain from going into a gradual state of self-destruction. A lack of sleep can bring side effects that range from the annoying and mundane, such as feeling a little light-headed, or the very risky, like a loss of alertness while driving. Mental health and physical well-being alike are both subject to some serious damage if someone regularly lacks sleep, with the effects often being readily apparent. However, some recent findings indicate that women may be risking more by not sleeping than men do.

Blood pressure levels, according to a recent British study, showed a sharp increase if a person regularly has less than adequate sleep. The cause of the lack of sleep, whether insomnia or stress, did not seem to bear much importance. However, a regular lack of sleep showed a sharper increase in blood pressure for women than for men. According to the study, a 42% increase in overall risk of increased blood pressure was found for the women who participated in the study, in comparison to the men, who only increased their risk by 31%. These findings were reportedly unexpected, though there are no indications as to what actually caused this result.


Further research is needed to find out what other potential factors contributed to the results. There are some doubts on whether or not the results should hold any veracity, particularly as there was no clear link between sleep deprivation and blood pressure in men. However, preliminary data from the research showed that there was one for the women in the test. The exact reasons for this is still unknown, though this has been taken as being suggestive of a gender-specific link between blood pressure and the hours of sleep a person gets. According to the reports, the subjects used for the research had no history of blood pressure problems and were assessed over a three-year period, from 1997 to 1995. The study was repeated with many of the same participants from the first test, with the time frame being 2003 to 2005. The results showed a disparity in the average levels from the first group and second group, but the gap between the males and females that developed higher blood pressure remained.


The researchers took into account that there were other factors that had not been fully investigated at the time. These include lifestyle, obesity, smoking, and genetics. Any of the above factors could have had a role in the results, though no one is entirely sure just how the lack of sleep played into the interactions, or if it was even a factor at all. The fact that there appeared to be a gender disparity between the results might also be difficult to truly remove, though there is currently no concrete basis for this assumption. It is worth noting that the same factors that could have contributed to the increased heart rate in the female test subjects were also present in the males, yet the difference between the two was far from negligible.