Lack of sleep may be at the root of hypertension in some middle-aged patients, according to a recent study demonstrating that adults who slept fewer hours were significantly more likely to have higher systolic and diastolic BP (Arch Intern Med. 2009;169:1055-1061).

The study was based on data from 578 participants (aged 33-45 years at baseline) in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. BP was measured four times over six years, and sleep was measured for three consecutive days in the middle of that time span.

Almost half of the study subjects (43%) slept less than six hours per night, with only 1% averaging eight or more hours of sleep per night. Shorter sleep duration was significantly associated with higher systolic and diastolic BP levels over the course of five years. Each hour of reduction in sleep duration was associated with a 37% increase in the odds of developing high BP.

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“Reduced sleep duration predicted adverse changes in BP, suggesting the need for studies to investigate whether interventions to optimize sleep may reduce BP,” the report concludes.