August 2, 2006

If you sleep more or less than 7 to 8 hours per night, you may be at increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) say researchers behind a new report in the journal Sleep. Daniel J. Gottlieb, MD, MPH, of Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System, and colleagues studied the responses of 2,813 men and 3,097 women, aged 40-100 years, to a questionnaire on sleep habits and general health. They found that, compared to people sleeping the recommended 7 to 8 hours per night, those sleeping less than 6 hours and those sleeping between 6 and 7 hours per night were more likely to have hypertension. The same was also true for those who reported sleeping between 8 and 9, as well as 9 or more, hours per night. These associations persisted even when the analyses were adjusted for caffeine and alcohol consumption, smoking, insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms, sleep efficiency, and prevalent diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular disease.

Because those with hypertension face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, an effect of short sleep duration on hypertension might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, he said. This "lends empiric support to the common recommendation to obtain 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night," he wrote in the current edition of Sleep. "Moreover, it suggests that obtaining adequate total sleep duration should be tested as a non-pharmacologic treatment modality in the management of patients with hypertension."

Sleep is published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. To view a copy of the study abstract, visit: