Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The importance of sleep, continued

A new study reports yet another health risk associated with a lack of sleep: high blood pressure.

According to a story by Bloomberg, the adults participating in the study who got the least sleep were most apt to have higher blood pressure. For every hour less than eight of missed sleep, odds of developing the condition rose an average 37 percent over five years, said Kristen Knutson, the lead author. Skipping two hours sleep raised the blood pressure risk 86 percent.

The researchers said that sleeplessness may have a long-term effect on the cardiovascular system, increasing high blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure, according to the American Heart Association.

Just chalk it up as one more reason to make sure you get enough shuteye every night. (Sleep problems are also related to obesity and diabetes, affecting overall heart health, Knutson said.)

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic of healthy and natural habits for better sleep (check out the Mayo article for more details and the complete list):

1. Be consistent in your bedtime and rising time.

2. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evening.

3. Limit daytime naps to a half-hour or less.

4. Exercise regularly.

5. Make sure your room is dark and quiet, and your bed and pillow are comfortable.

6. Develop a relaxing nighttime routine to signal your body it’s time to sleep.

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