Is it true that sleep deprivation can cause high blood pressure?

Answers from Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.

Possibly. It's thought that sleeping less than six hours a night could be linked to increased blood pressure.

People who sleep five hours or less a night may be at higher risk of developing high blood pressure or worsening already high blood pressure. There's also an increased risk of high blood pressure for people who sleep between five and six hours a night.

It's thought that sleep helps your blood regulate stress hormones and helps your nervous system remain healthy. Over time, a lack of sleep could hurt your body's ability to regulate stress hormones, leading to high blood pressure.

Sleeping seven to eight hours a night may play a role in the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor for tips on getting better sleep, especially if you have high blood pressure.

Also talk with your doctor if you feel tired even after a full night's sleep. One possible — and treatable — cause, sleep apnea, increases your risk of heart problems and other health issues.

Aug. 24, 2012 See more Expert Answers