According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults normally need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. However, the sleep duration of many adults is far less than the recommended.
In fact, several studies have reported the negative health consequences of short sleep duration. Studies have shown lack of sleep would raise rates of obesity, depression and high blood pressure in children, and it would increase the risk of falls for older adults. For the middle-aged persons, lack of sleep would increase the risk of infections, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
It is widely believed that high blood pressure, if not treated in time with medications, could cause stroke and eventually lead to partial or total disability. Some serious cases could even result in death. In the meantime, one should not forget that high blood pressure has long been regarded as a known risk factor of heart disease.
A paper published on June 8, 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine by researchers from the University of Chicago revealed that middle-aged adults who sleep too little are more likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure).
The new study is believed to be among the first to directly measure sleep duration for middle-aged adults. The findings showed that a person who misses an average of 1 hour of sleep over a period of 5 years would raise the risk of getting high blood pressure by 37 percent. Meanwhile, the study also suggested that poor sleep might well explain in part why black men have higher blood pressure risks.
In the study, 578 adults with an average age of 40 were examined. The researchers took blood pressure readings and measured sleep duration for each of these adults. It was noted that only 1 percent slept 8 hours or more.
On average, the volunteers slept only 6 hours. For those who slept less, chances they would develop high blood pressure over 5 years would be much higher. The result also showed that every hour of lost sleep raised the risk. Meanwhile, the researchers found that men, and particularly black men, had much shorter sleep duration than white women in the study, who were least likely to develop high blood pressure.