Does Lack of Sleep Cause High Blood Pressure?

For many, eight hours of sleep has become an extraordinary treasure. There are many reasons for this generation to become sleep-deprived. The reasons are many, from extensive screen time to academic pressure, irregular work schedules, and many more. 

But is it worth it? Does lack of sleep cause high blood pressure?

1. What is High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is a condition in which the pressure of blood in blood vessels is too high. The normal range is 120/80 mmHg, and when it becomes 140/90 mmHg or higher, this is the condition of high blood pressure. In Scientific terms, the blood pressure is cardiac output multiplied by peripheral resistance.

So, when the stroke volume of the heart increases the cardiac output increases, and eventually the blood pressure increases. In the second case, if the blood vessels constrict due to several reasons like clog formation or more, the peripheral resistance of blood flow increases and causes a rise in blood pressure.

Does lack of sleep cause high blood pressure
Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

2. What is Lack of Sleep?

Lack of sleep, commonly called ‘sleep deprivation’ in simple words, is when an individual does not get an adequate amount of sleep, that is, 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.

When a person does not obtain enough sleep to satisfy their physiological and psychological demands, either in terms of time or quality, sleep deprivation develops. It may be caused by some things, such as intentionally choosing to stay awake, underlying medical issues, or environmental disruptions.

2.1. Factors Responsible for Lack of Sleep

There are several factors responsible for the lack of sleep like

2.1.1. Age

Older adults may have more fragmented sleep and nighttime awakenings as a result of changing sleep patterns brought on by aging.

Old person
Sabine van Erp/Pixabay 

2.1.2. Diet & Nutrition

Heavy dinners, eating a lot of food, or immediately going to bed after eating might cause intestinal pain and interfere with sleep.

healthy diet

2.1.3. Drugs Use

Smoking, taking drugs for leisure, or consuming too much alcohol might disrupt sleep patterns.

2.1.4. Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant frequently experience pain, frequent urination, and hormonal changes that can make it difficult for them to obtain a good night’s sleep. However, it’s restricted to a specific population.

Pregnant woman
Ambily J/Pixabay

2.1.5. Screen Time

Watching Movies, using a phone, or playing video games during bedtime can delay sleep onset.

3. The Physiological Changes in the Body Due to Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep, also called chronic sleep deprivation, has a wide range of physiological effects on the body. Like metabolic changes, reduced immune function or immune system suppression, changes in brain function, hormonal imbalance, digestive problems, cardiovascular problems, and the list goes on and on. So, if someone is saying that the lack of sleep is just making them tired they need to know that it’s not only making them tired instead it’s making their body a mannequin of diseases.

3.1-Does Lack of Sleep Cause High Blood Pressure

Our article focuses on does lack of sleep causes high blood pressure and the most talked about physiological change due to lack of sleep is hormonal imbalance which indirectly leads to high blood pressure.

During deep sleep, sympathetic nervous system activity is decreased and the release of the stress hormone, that is, adrenaline is also decreased and due to this the body is in a complete rest position. If the body doesn’t get proper sleep the sympathetic system remains activated the release of the adrenaline hormone is continuous which will cause the body to be in a stress condition.

The main function of adrenaline is to increase the heart rate or blood pressure through several pathways, one of which is the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) pathway.

3.2-‘Master Gland’ And Its Role in Hypertension

Another important aspect of hormonal imbalance is the release of hormones by hypothalamic-pituitary axes. The pituitary gland is also called as ‘master gland’ and it releases hormones like melatonin which is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle of the body and lack of sleep can negatively impact the body’s melatonin production.

Melatonin is also the precursor of the happy hormone, that is, serotonin, and a decrease in melatonin will eventually decrease the level of serotonin and this leads the body to be in a stressful or less happy state which can also be a reason for high blood pressure.       


lack of sleep leading to stress which leads to hypertension
Ryan McGuire/Pixabay 

4. Other Health Problems Arising Due to Lack of Sleep

Besides high blood pressure, several health problems arise due to lack of sleep, like-

4.1. Diabetes

Repeated awakenings at night and irregular sleep promote glucose tolerance and insulin resistance and hence it leads to type 2 diabetes.

Tesa Robbins/Pixabay

4.2. Obesity

Too little sleep can make you hungrier the next day and reduce how full you feel after eating. It can disrupt the hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased food intake and weight gain which is a primary reason for obesity. Obesity is also associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes and other cardiovascular disorders.

Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay

4.3. Cardiovascular Diseases

Lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart diseases like high blood pressure, arrhythmia and in severe cases, it leads to myocardial infarction.

4.4. Increased Pain Sensitivity

Sleep deprivation can reduce a person’s pain threshold, making them more sensitive to pain. It can make migraines and fibromyalgia, two chronic pain problems, worse.

4.5. Gastrointestinal Problems

Lack of sleep increases stress, which affects the gut and leads to a hormonal imbalance of the stress hormone, cortisol. And this can lead to various gut problems like acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

All of these above problems are somehow physical diseases caused due to sleep deprivation. Now let’s emphasize the psychological problems arising due to lack of sleep.

5. Psychological Problems Due To Sleep Deprivation

In today’s world psychological problems are becoming as normal as the common cold. There are several reasons why it is so easy to catch this kind of disease and one of the biggest reasons is stress which is the prime result of a disturbed lifestyle. Due to the poor lifestyle today like eating meals at irregular times, eating food rich in carbs, sleeping at irregular times and many more, stress has become a part of our lives which is a leading cause of many psychological diseases like-

5.1. Depression

It is the most common psychological disorder among people. In this, the patient always be in a depressive mood and has negative thoughts about themselves. Sleep problems, such as insomnia or irregular sleep patterns, can be both a symptom and a contributing factor to depressive disorders.

Depressed boy
sippakorn yamkasikorn/Pixabay

5.2. Anxiety Disorder

It is somehow related to depression as the patient is in a depressive state. additionally, in anxiety, the patients have sudden panic attacks and social anxiety, which leads to making themselves uncomfortable around people, so they avoid public gatherings.

5.3. Bipolar Disorder

In people with bipolar illness, sleep disruptions, such as sleep deprivation or irregular sleep patterns, can precipitate manic or hypomanic episodes. During these episodes, a person may feel euphoric and it is a period of over-activity and high energy which has a significant impact on day-to-day life.

Psychic person
Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

5.4. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

It is a problem in paying attention and controlling impulsive behaviour. Sleep deprivation can mimic some of the symptoms of ADHD, or it can worsen the signs of the ones who already have ADHD.

5.5. Schizophrenia

It is a disorder in which a patient interprets reality abnormally and has audio or visual hallucinations. Sleep deprivation can contribute to symptom exacerbation in a schizophrenic person because they already have overactivity of dopamine in their body and the same overactivity of dopamine 2 or D2 receptor has been indicated in insomnia.

Engin Akyurt/Pixabay

5.6. Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a condition of emotional dysregulation, in which a person’s ability to regulate emotions is severely impacted. Sleep disturbances, including nightmares and insomnia, can worsen these symptoms and the patients can lose control of their emotions.

5.7. Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Trauma is the root cause of many other mental disorders. It could be childhood trauma, academic trauma, relationship trauma, or many more, it eventually leads to different kinds of stress and mental disorders. People who have PTSD have nightmares and flashbacks during sleep which leads to sleep disruption and contributes to the severity of PTSD symptoms.

Post Trauma
Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

5.8. Cognitive Impairment

Lack of sleep affects cognitive abilities such as memory, judgment, and problem-solving, which can exacerbate or aggravate cognitive illnesses like dementia.

6. How We Can Regulate The Sleep-Wake Cycle

The sleep-wake cycle also called circadian rhythm, is very important for maintaining good sleep quality and overall health. And nowadays, maintaining a good sleep cycle is an actual challenge. So, here let’s discuss some ways through which we can help to maintain the circadian rhythm in our lifestyle.

6.1. Maintain Consistent Sleep Cycle

Here consistent sleep cycle means waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. It will eventually help to maintain a good schedule although it is the most difficult step of the process.

6.2. Meditation

Engaging in calming activities like meditation before going to bed will help to improve the quality of sleep and it will also have a positive impact on mental health.

Shahariar Lenin/Pixabay

6.3. Exposure to Natural Light

Natural light helps maintain the circadian rhythm. So, spending time outdoors during daylight hours, playing outdoor games, outdoor leisure activities, etc. helps to improve the quality of sleep.

6.4. Limit Exposure to Artificial Lights at Night/Decreasing Screen Time

At least 1-2 hours before bedtime, stay away from bright displays (phones, laptops, TVs) since the blue light they generate might interfere with the sleep-wake cycle. If the screen is a must, then using blue light filters and anti-glare glasses can help.

screen time

6.5. Limit Naps

If you need to nap during the day, keep it short (for 20-30 minutes only), as resting too much in the day will interfere with nighttime sleep and it is a huge reason for causing insomnia.

6.6. Proper Diet

Maintain a proper diet, avoid overeating spices, avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol at bedtime, also try not to go to bed hungry or overly full.

6.7. Consult a Healthcare Professional

Consult a medical expert or sleep specialist for advice and evaluation if you still struggle to control your sleep-wake cycle despite using these techniques or believe you may have a sleep issue.

patient consulting doctor

7. Benefits of Good Sleep

Good sleep is essential to general well-being and is not simply a luxury. A good night’s sleep has many advantages that enhance all elements of our lives.

First and foremost, getting enough rest restores our energy, leaving us re-energized and ready to take on the day’s tasks. Beyond this short-term benefit, getting enough sleep has a significant impact on our mental health, improving mood control, lowering irritation, and fostering emotional stability.

7.1. Physiological Effects of Good Sleep

Good sleep has advantages that go beyond mental health. A well-rested body benefits from a boosted immune system, which reduces the likelihood of sickness and the number of sick days needed. Additionally, it has been associated with improved hunger control, a stronger heart, a lower risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, and better weight management.

7.2. Cognitive Effects of Good Sleep

The best thing for your brain is sleep. Our cognitive abilities become more acute, allowing for clearer thinking, greater problem-solving abilities, and better decision-making. Sleep is the secret to memory consolidation, which improves our ability to recall and retain information.

cognitive health
Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

7.3. Emotional Effects of Good Sleep

In terms of emotions, getting enough sleep protects us against stress and gives us the fortitude to handle the stresses of life. It’s a performance booster for athletes and other active people, helping to increase physical endurance and hasten recuperation times.

The most striking finding is that getting good sleep has been linked to living longer and being healthier.

happy person
Jackson David/Pixabay

8. Conclusion

Lack of sleep can cause several physiological changes in the body and it leads to so many diseases. The particular physiological effects of sleep loss might differ from person to person and depend on the duration and degree of sleep loss, it’s crucial to remember. Chronic sleep deprivation can have long-term, cumulative effects on health, raising the likelihood of developing several chronic illnesses. 

Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by