Why Sleep Is So Important for Your Blood Pressure

When sleep is disrupted, the circadian rhythm of blood pressure is disrupted, too.

Adam Kuylenstierna / EyeEm/ Getty Images
Adam Kuylenstierna / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Many lifestyle habits may increase the risk of high blood pressure, such as being overweight or obese and eating high-sodium food.

In addition, recent research has shown that poor sleep quality could contribute to high blood pressure.

For example, obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which a person slows or stops breathing during sleep, is a common cause of high blood pressure.

The connection between sleep apnea and high blood pressure begins in the carotid body. This is a small cluster of cells located in the carotid arteries, which pass through the right and left sides of the neck.

When people with sleep apnea could not breathe well during sleep, their blood-oxygen levels plummeted.

The carotid bodies recognize this deficit and quickly release signals to increase breathing and bring oxygen levels back to normal.

The problem is that these signals can also increase blood pressure and can lead to strokes during sleep. This is the finding from a recent study conducted by University of Chicago.

The researchers suggest that drugs designed to inhibit the enzyme cystathionine-y-lyase could be used to disrupt the cascade of signals and prevent high blood pressure.

The enzyme cystathionine-y-lyase is required for the production of hydrogen sulfide, the signal to increase oxygen intake.

Besides sleep apnea, unhealthy sleep habits can also hurt blood pressure.

For instance, one study from University of Virginia finds that when the body clock is disrupted, blood pressure can rise a lot even the person is on a low-sodium diet.

The unhealthy sleep habits include doing shift work and not sleeping enough. For example, some people who play video games late at night may not be able to get enough sleep.

Sleep or rest time is when our 24-7 organs should get at least a bit of a break. During sleep, the heart rate decreases, and the blood pressure shows a circadian rhythm.

When sleep is disrupted, the circadian rhythm of blood pressure is disrupted too.

If this happens, even a low-sodium diet cannot help control blood pressure.

The researchers suggest that high blood pressure patients should monitor their blood pressure 24 hours to see if there is anything wrong with the blood pressure circadian rhythm.

In addition, any people who are at a high risk of high blood pressure should eat less salt and high a good night’s sleep every day.

This article originally appeared on Knowridge Science Report.

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