Sleepless Nights Linked to High Blood Pressure

A bad night’s sleep may result in a spike in blood pressure that night and the following day, according to new research led by the University of Arizona.

The study, to be published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, offers one possible explanation for why sleep problems have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and even death from cardiovascular disease.

The link between poor sleep and cardiovascular health problems is increasingly well-established in scientific literature, but the reason for the relationship is less understood.

Researchers set out to learn more about the connection in a study of 300 men and women, ages 21 to 70, with no history of heart problems. Participants wore portable blood pressure cuffs for two consecutive days. The cuffs randomly took participants’ blood pressure during 45-minute intervals throughout each day and also overnight.

At night, participants wore actigraphy monitors — wristwatch-like devices that measure movement — to help determine their “sleep efficiency,” or the amount of time in bed spent sleeping soundly.

Overall, those who had lower sleep efficiency showed an increase in blood pressure during that restless night. They also had higher systolic blood pressure — the top number in a patient’s blood pressure reading — the next day.

More research is needed to understand why poor sleep raises blood pressure and what it could mean long-term for people with chronic sleep issues. Yet, these latest findings may be an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the pathway through which sleep impacts overall cardiovascular health.

“Blood pressure is one of the best predictors of cardiovascular health,” said lead study author Caroline Doyle, a graduate student in the UA Department of Psychology. “There is a lot of literature out there that shows sleep has some kind of impact on mortality and on cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 killer of people in the country. We wanted to see if we could try to get a piece of that story — how sleep might be impacting disease through blood pressure.”

The study reinforces just how important a good night’s sleep can be. It’s not just the amount of time you spend in bed, but the quality of sleep you’re getting, said study co-author John Ruiz, UA associate professor of psychology.

Improving sleep quality can start with making simple changes and being proactive, Ruiz said.

“Keep the phone in a different room,” he suggested. “If your bedroom window faces the east, pull the shades. For anything that’s going to cause you to waken, think ahead about what you can do to mitigate those effects.”

For those with chronic sleep troubles, Doyle advocates cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBTI, which focuses on making behavioral changes to improve sleep health. CBTI is slowly gaining traction in the medical field and is recommended by both the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as the first line of treatment for insomnia.

Doyle and Ruiz say they hope their findings — showing the impact even one fitful night’s rest can have on the body — will help illuminate just how critical sleep is for heart health.

“This study stands on the shoulders of a broad literature looking at sleep and cardiovascular health,” Doyle said. “This is one more study that shows something is going on with sleep and our heart health. Sleep is important, so whatever you can do to improve your sleep, it’s worth prioritizing.”

Source: Science Daily

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Why Lack of Sleep Is Bad for Your Heart

Lisa Marshall wrote . . . . . . . . .

In recent years, numerous studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are at greater risk of stroke and heart attack.

A new University of Colorado Boulder study, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, helps explain why.

It found that people who sleep fewer than 7 hours per night have lower blood levels of three physiological regulators, or microRNAs, which influence gene expression and play a key role in maintaining vascular health.

The findings could potentially lead to new, non-invasive tests for sleep deprived patients concerned about their health, the authors said.

“This study proposes a new potential mechanism through which sleep influences heart health and overall physiology,” said senior author Christopher DeSouza, a professor of Integrative Physiology.

Despite recommendations by the American Heart Association that people get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, about 40 percent of adults in the United States fall short. Overall, the average American’s sleep duration has plummeted from 9 hours nightly to 6.8 hours nightly over the past century.

In another recent study, DeSouza’s group found that adult men who sleep 6 hours per night have dysfunctional endothelial cells — the cells that line blood vessels — and their arteries don’t dilate and constrict as well as those who get sufficient sleep.

But the underlying factors leading to this dysfunction aren’t well known.

MicroRNAs are small molecules that suppress gene expression of certain proteins in cells. The exact function of circulating microRNAs in the cardiovascular system, and their impact on cardiovascular health is receiving a lot of scientific attention, and drugs are currently in development for a variety of diseases, including cancer, to correct impaired microRNA signatures.

“They are like cellular brakes, so if beneficial microRNAs are lacking that can have a big impact on the health of the cell,” said DeSouza.

For the new study, which is the first to explore the impact of insufficient sleep on circulating microRNA signatures, DeSouza and his team took blood samples from 24 healthy men and women, age 44 to 62, who had filled out questionnaires about their sleep habits. Half slept 7 to 8.5 hours nightly; Half slept 5 to 6.8 hours nightly.

They measured expression of nine microRNAs previously associated with inflammation, immune function or vascular health.

They found that people with insufficient sleep had 40 to 60 percent lower circulating levels of miR-125A, miR-126, and miR-146a, (previously shown to suppress inflammatory proteins) than those who slept enough.

“Why 7 or 8 hours seems to be the magic number is unclear,” said DeSouza. “However, it is plausible that people need at least 7 hours of sleep per night to maintain levels of important physiological regulators, such as microRNAs.”

Research is now underway in DeSouza’s lab to determine whether restoring healthy sleep habits can restore healthy levels of microRNAs.

Ultimately, he said, it’s possible that microRNAs in blood could be used as a marker of cardiovascular disease in people with insufficient sleep, enabling doctors to glean important information via a blood test rather than current, more invasive tests.

For now, DeSouza says, the takeaway message for those burning the midnight oil is this:

“Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep.”

Source: University of Colorado Boulder


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Video: How Aging Really Affects Your Sleep

With age comes wisdom. But it can also come with a change in your sleep patterns.

See four ways aging affects your sleep, and what you can do about it.

Watch video at You Tube (1:31 minutes) . . . . .

Video: How to Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes According to the US Navy

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you toss and turn at night?

A good night’s sleep is necessary for optimal health.

So if you’re one of the millions of people in the world who suffers from a sleep disorder or you want to fall asleep faster, watch this video to learn a trick straight from the US military.

Watch video at You Tube (7:24 minutes) . . . .

Good Sleep Quality and Good Mood Lead to Good Working Memory with Age

A team of psychologists has found strong associations between working memory — a fundamental building block of a functioning mind — and three health-related factors: sleep, age, and depressed mood. The team also reports that each of these factors is associated with different aspects of working memory.

Working memory is the part of short-term memory that temporarily stores and manages information required for cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. Working memory is critically involved in many higher cognitive functions, including intelligence, creative problem-solving, language, and action-planning. It plays a major role in how we process, use, and remember information.

The researchers, led by Weiwei Zhang, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, found that age is negatively related to the “qualitative” aspect of working memory–that is, how strong or how accurate the memory is. In other words, the older the person, the weaker and less precise the person’s memory. In contrast, poor sleep quality and depressed mood are linked to a reduced likelihood of remembering a previously experienced event — the “quantitative” aspect of working memory.

“Other researchers have already linked each of these factors separately to overall working memory function, but our work looked at how these factors are associated with memory quality and quantity – the first time this has been done,” Zhang said. “All three factors are interrelated. For example, seniors are more likely to experience negative mood than younger adults. Poor sleep quality is also often associated with depressed mood. The piecemeal approach used in previous investigations on these relationships — examining the relationship between one of these health-related factors and working memory — could open up the possibility that an observed effect may be influenced by other factors.”

The researchers are the first to statistically isolate the effects of the three factors on working memory quantity and quality. Although all three factors contribute to a common complaint about foggy memory, they seem to behave in different ways and may result from potentially independent mechanisms in the brain. These findings could lead to future interventions and treatments to counteract the negative impacts of these factors on working memory.

Research results appear in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

The researchers performed two studies. In the first study, they sampled 110 college students for self-reported measures of sleep quality and depressed mood and their independent relationship to experimental measures of working memory. In the second study, the researchers sampled 31 members of a community ranging in age from 21 to 77 years. In this study, the researchers investigated age and its relationship to working memory.

“We are more confident now about how each one of these factors impacts working memory,” Zhang said. “This could give us a better understanding of the underlying mechanism in age-related dementia. For the mind to work at its best, it is important that senior citizens ensure they have good sleep quality and be in a good mood.”

Source: EurekAlert!


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