Signs of insomnia could be linked to a heightened chance of high blood pressure in women. In an extensive research, females who slept for shorter periods were more prone to new cases of hypertension compared to those who got 7–8 hours of sleep. Specifically, those who slept for 5 hours or less had a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.10, with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.05–1.16. Women who slept for 6 hours had an HR of 1.07, with a 95% CI of 1.03–1.10. However, this elevated risk was not observed in women who slept for longer durations.
Women who occasionally or frequently faced challenges in falling or staying asleep also had a higher likelihood of developing hypertension. The hazard ratios for these groups were 1.14 and 1.28, respectively, both statistically significant. Interestingly, waking up early did not pose as a risk factor for hypertension.
The study also found that the link between short sleep duration and sleep difficulties with hypertension remained significant even after adjusting for factors like shift work and chronotype (morning or evening preference).
Data and Methodology
The study analyzed information from 66,122 participants of the Nurses’ Health Study 2 who did not have hypertension at the start of the study. Over a 16-year follow-up period, 25,987 new cases of hypertension were recorded.
According to Dr. Shahab Haghayegh, the lead author of the study, individuals experiencing insomnia symptoms could be at risk for hypertension and might benefit from early screening. The exact mechanisms by which insomnia contributes to hypertension are not yet clear. However, Dr. Haghayegh mentioned that sleep disruptions could trigger a series of bodily changes, such as increased sodium retention and arterial stiffness, which could potentially lead to hypertension.
The study does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship but emphasizes the importance of quality sleep for overall well-being. The next steps in the research include understanding the underlying mechanisms and exploring the potential benefits of sleep medications on blood pressure.
It had some limitations, including the fact that the population studied was primarily women, and data on sleep quality were collected only at specific times during the study.