High Blood Pressure And Sleep

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is when the pressure of blood is too high against blood vessel (arteries) walls. According to the NHS, this condition usually does not show any symptoms, but it can be seriously dangerous if not taken care of. The possible consequences of high blood pressure include: 

  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Aortic aneurysms

To understand high blood pressure, it is important to know that this is expressed as two numbers: 

  • Systolic pressure (higher number): the force the heart produces when it contracts (squeezes), to pump the blood through the whole body;
  • Diastolic pressure (lower number): the force the heart exerts when it relaxes, equivalent to the resistance of the blood vessels to blood flow. 

A general guide for blood pressure values is :

  • Ideal blood pressure is between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg
  • High blood pressure would be values of 140/90 mmHg or higher.

Blood pressure can vary slightly from person to person, what might be high for one could be normal for someone else.1

Is Sleep Important for Heart Health?

Sleep is crucially important when talking about heart health.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, eight hours of sleep per night is a must in order to keep a healthy lifestyle. Lack of sleep could increase the amount of calcium in the heart’s arteries. The more the calcium that builds up, the more so-called plaques are created, which rigidify and narrow the arteries, consequently increasing the risk of a heart attack. Other possible negative consequences of the lack of sleep are:

  • Inflammation
  • High blood sugar levels
  • High blood pressure 
  • Obesity. 

It is therefore important to let the body and mind rest the appropriate amount of hours per night, as sleep plays a significant role when it comes to health.1 For an adult aged between 18-60, the recommended number of hours of sleep are about seven or more hours per day.2

Sleep Also Helps Regulate Metabolism Hormones

Another important factor that shows the importance of getting enough sleep is metabolic regulation. The human body produces a wide range of hormones with specific roles, and the two hormones that balance appetite work whilst one is asleep and are affected by the lack of it. These two hormones are called leptin and ghrelin.

  • Leptin is the hormone that decreases one’s appetite and 
  • Ghrelin is the hormone that increases one’s appetite

According to research, sleep deprivation for 24 hours resulted in increased levels of ghrelin, while the levels of leptin decreased. This means that people with sleep deprivation will tend to have an increase in appetite and eat more, resulting in weight gain.3 This increases the risk of being obese as a result of sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation. Moreover, other hormones are affected by sleep quality, such as: 

  • Melatonin -  this hormone helps control the sleep cycle.
  • Cortisol - is a steroid hormone, produced and released by the kidneys, that regulates metabolism, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

If melatonin is affected, the sleep cycle suffers. If cortisol is affected, this can dysregulate your metabolism, blood sugar levels and blood pressure control.3

So sleep deprivation or the lack of it can cause hormonal imbalance that can also lead to an increase in blood pressure. This increases ones risk of developing other cardiovascular diseases like stroke and is therefore important to ensure that a healthy sleep routine is established.3  

Different measures can be taken in order to ensure one can have a healthy sleep routine. 

Physical activities like yoga and daily exercises may help the body and mind to:

  • Reduce stress 
  • Help with blood circulation in the body
  • Involve other hormones that could trigger the circadian rhythm (internal clock) to achieve better sleep quality

Other changes to lifestyle that could help to reduce blood pressure include:

  • Reducing salt intake
  • Implementing a healthy diet
  • Smoking cessation
  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Frequent physical activity
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Losing weight if overweight.1

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if you are experiencing any of the faoolowing:

  • If your blood pressure is higher than the normal range
  • Numbness or weakness of the face, a side of the body, leg and or arm
  • Dizziness 
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Chest pain 
  • Loss of coordination. 

If you are at risk of high blood pressure, it is suggested that you get your blood pressure checked frequently. 


Sleep is very important to help control hormones that regulate blood pressure. People should be aware that establishing a healthy sleep routine is crucial to lower blood pressure and to have an efficient functioning of the different hormones of the body.  


  1. High blood pressure (Hypertension) [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2022 Oct 6]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/
  2. CDC. How much sleep do i need? [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 6]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
  3. Kim TW, Jeong JH, Hong SC. The impact of sleep and circadian disturbance on hormones and metabolism. International Journal of Endocrinology [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2022 Oct 6];2015:1–9. Available from: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2015/591729/

Silvia Battaglia

Tourism and Travel Services Management Student, Anglia Ruskin University, England

I'm a passionate reader and writer, my best achievement is the first draft of my own book. I started writing when I was really young.
Experienced medical writer.

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