Insomnia Didn't Boost Blood Pressure

Chronic insomnia not associated with high blood pressure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Sleep is an important aspect of maintaining good health. So people with insomnia may wonder how their problem affects their health. They may have one less health concern to worry about.

A new study found that insomnia did not increase the risk for high blood pressure.

"See a sleep specialist if you're unable to sleep at night."

This recent study was conducted by Nicholas Vozoris, MD, a respirologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

About 30 percent of adults have insomnia.

For this study, insomnia was defined as having difficulty falling asleep, being awake for a long time in the middle of the night or waking too early in the morning. These complaints were with or without a self-reported short sleep time of less than six hours total sleep.

Participants of the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) were included. The 12,643 respondents answered questions about sleep quality. They were asked to define how many times they had trouble sleeping in the previous month: none, one to four times, five to 15 times, or 16 to 30 times.

Participants also were asked if they had ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) by their doctor, or whether or not they were on blood pressure-lowering medication. They also had their blood pressure measured.

High blood pressure happens when blood pushes too hard against artery walls. The condition can eventually lead to heart disease.

In this study, when total sleep time was not taken into account, almost 79 percent of participants reported having insomnia at least once in the previous month.

Regardless of whether or not participants had frequent insomnia or often slept less than six hours a night, there was no association between trouble with sleep and high blood pressure, Dr. Vozoris reported.

Dr. Vozoris concluded that based on these results, doctors should avoid prescribing sedatives to patients who complain of insomnia. Chronic use of sleeping pills is linked with other health conditions and also higher death rates, Dr. Vozoris wrote.

Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist at the Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, said this study should make people who have occasional bouts of insomnia feel better. “That's not to imply that insomnia is a benign condition,” she told dailyRx News. “Chronic insomnia may have negative effects on your job performance, relationships, and sense of well being. Of course, driving while sleepy can have serious consequences.”

Dr. Samaan noted that this study did not look at sleep apnea, “which is a completely separate issue which clearly has negative consequences for blood pressure and heart health. With the increased availability of sleep medicine specialists, it makes sense to get evaluated if chronic insomnia is an issue for you.”

This study appeared June 25 in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Vozoris disclosed receiving a one-time lecture fee from Centric Health, a Canadian Health Services Company.

Review Date: 
June 24, 2014
Last Updated:
June 25, 2014