Having trouble falling asleep? Even mild sleep problems can raise blood pressure in women, scientists warn.
Nearly one-third of adults do not get enough sleep. For women, the problem may be even bigger.
Studies suggest that women are at greater risk for sleep problems, with some researchers reporting that chronic insomnia may be twice as common in women as in men.
Women who had mild sleep problems – including those who slept for seven to nine hours a night – were significantly more likely to have elevated blood pressure.
“That’s concerning since studies have shown that sleep deprivation and milder sleep problems may have a disproportionate effect on cardiovascular health in women,” said Brooke Aggarwal, a scientist at Columbia University in the US.
The new study examined blood pressure and sleep habits in 323 healthy women. Mild sleep disturbances – poor-quality sleep, taking longer to fall asleep, and insomnia – were nearly three times more common than severe sleep disturbances, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Women who had mild sleep problems – including those who slept for seven to nine hours a night, as measured by a wristwatch-like device – were significantly more likely to have elevated blood pressure.
Some of the women allowed the researchers to extract a few endothelial cells from inside an arm vein to look for a pro-inflammatory protein that is implicated in the development of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers found an association between endothelial inflammation and mild sleep disturbances.