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

Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

Possibly. Sleep experts recommend that adults should get seven to eight hours of a sleep each night. Getting less than six hours of sleep is known to be bad for your overall health. Stress, jet lag, shift work and other sleep disturbances make you more likely to develop heart disease and risk factors for heart disease, including obesity and diabetes. A regular lack of sleep may lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) in both children and adults.

The less you sleep, the higher your blood pressure may go. People who sleep six hours or less may have steeper increases in blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, not sleeping well may make your blood pressure worse.

It's thought that sleep helps your body control hormones needed to regulate stress and metabolism. Over time, a lack of sleep could cause swings in hormones, leading to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.

Don't try to make up for a lack of sleep with a lot of sleep. Too much sleep, to a lesser degree than short sleep, can lead to high blood sugar and weight gain, which are bad for your heart health. Talk to your doctor for tips on getting better sleep, especially if you have high blood pressure.

One possible, treatable cause of your lack of sleep contributing to high blood pressure is obstructive sleep apnea — a sleep disorder in which you repeatedly stop and start breathing during sleep. Talk with your doctor if you feel tired even after a full night's sleep, especially if you snore. Obstructive sleep apnea may be the cause. Obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk of high blood pressure and other heart problems.


Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

Jan. 06, 2021 See more Expert Answers

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