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Does insomnia cause high blood pressure?

It all depends on which study you read.

For the first three years of writing this blog, all the studies I came across suggested there was a link between insomnia and hypertension (high blood pressure).

However, in 2014 I came across a cross-sectional study of over 12,000 individuals that found no significant association between insomnia symptoms and high blood pressure.

2015 rolls along, and I'm reading a study that reverts back to the original perceived wisdom that there is a link after all!

In this latest study, researchers found that those who took longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep were three times more likely to suffer from hypertension. Those who took longer than 17 minutes to fall asleep were four times more likely to suffer from hypertension.

There's a big caveat to this study, though.

Researchers only measured how long it took participants to fall asleep during the day - and even then, timings were taken over four 20 minutes nap sessions every two hours. This is hardly reflective of a normal sleep pattern.

What this study really tells us is that those who are extremely alert during the day (also known as hyperarousal), are unable to relax, or take a long time to fall asleep during the day may be at higher risk of hypertension.

This makes sense; it's not surprising that people who are extremely alert throughout the day may have higher blood pressure compared to those who find it easy to relax and sleep during the day.

I'm therefore inclined to continue to refer those worried about the link between insomnia and hypertension to the 2014 study I referenced earlier (the one that found no link between insomnia symptoms and high blood pressure).

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Last updated: June 9, 2015

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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