Even Mild Sleep Problems Linked to Hypertension in Women

Even Mild Sleep Problems Linked to Hypertension in Women
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Women who struggle to fall asleep or who have other sleep problems are at an increased risk for high blood pressure. In fact, it only takes mild sleep problems for a “significant” increase in hypertension risk, even if women are able to sleep a healthy dose of 7-9 hours. [1]

As many as 50 to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder and up to 30% of Americans occasionally struggle with insomnia, according to the American Sleep Foundation (ASF).

In a statement, lead author Brooke Aggarwal, a behavioral scientist in the department of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, called those estimates “concerning, since studies have shown that sleep deprivation and milder sleep problems may have a disproportionate effect on cardiovascular health in women.”

Aggarwal and her team became determined to investigate the ASF’s claim that women are more likely than men to have trouble falling and staying asleep and to experience more daytime sleepiness.

Study: Treating Insomnia Could Reduce Heart Attack and Stroke

To study that claim, the researchers examined the blood pressure measurements and sleep habits of 323 healthy women aged 20 to 79. They found that mild sleep disturbances such as poor-quality sleep, difficulty falling asleep, and insomnia were nearly 3 times more common than severe sleep disturbances like obstructive sleep apnea. [2]

In addition to being considerably more likely to have high blood pressure, women were also more likely to see an elevation in a pro-inflammatory protein that is common in the development of cardiovascular disease. [1]

Similarly, the authors found an association between this inflammation and mild sleep disturbances.

The authors concluded:

“Relatively mild sleep disturbances such as poor sleep quality, prolonged time to fall asleep, and insomnia are associated with increased blood pressure and vascular inflammation in women, even in the absence of sleep deprivation.” [2]

Aggarwal added:

“It may be prudent to screen women for milder sleep disturbances in an effort to help prevent cardiovascular disease.”

And based on the findings, it may be prudent for women with even mild sleep problems to see their doctor – especially since sleeping too much or too little has also been linked to a sharply increased risk of high blood pressure.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


[1] Newsweek

[2] Medical News Today