If you are one of the 75 million Americans with high blood pressure, you have probably already made efforts to reduce your number with lifestyle changes. But what you may not know is that changing the way you sleep can also help reduce those numbers. The duration and quality of your sleep not only influences blood pressure, but the position in which you sleep can also make a big difference. Learn how changing your sleep and position habits can help lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health.
What are the best sleeping positions for high blood pressure?
Sleeping on the left side is the best sleeping position for high blood pressure, as it relieves pressure on the blood vessels that return blood to the heart. These vessels are located on the right side of the body and can be compressed by slowing its circulation if you sleep on your right side. Sleeping on the left side is important for pregnant women concerned about high blood pressure. Because the growing baby presses against the internal organs and can cause circulation problems, sleeping on the left side will help with circulation and can prevent high blood pressure.
According to research by Yasuharu Tabara and colleagues at the Ehime University School of Medicine in Ehime, Japan, sleeping on your stomach can be the key to lowering blood pressure while you sleep. The results of your study indicate that blood pressure can decrease by more than 15 points when you go from sleeping on your back to your stomach.
Practice Healthy Sleeping Habits
In addition to changing the position of sleep, you should also change the way you see sleep to combat high blood pressure more effectively. This will include how you approach your nights and what to do once you are in bed.
- Before you go to bed, there is a lot to do to make your nights more successful. Eating a lighter dinner early in the day will allow your body to digest food and avoid uncomfortable heartburn.
- In the time preceding bed, take a little time away from your appliances to relax. The blue light emitted by these screens triggers your brain to stay awake because this light mimics sunlight. Relax with a book, hot shower or another evening ritual will let your brain know it’s time to go to bed.
- Once in bed, you should focus on sleeping to help strengthen the association in your mind between your bed and getting tired. Doing this every night makes it easier to fall asleep rather than watching TV or scrolling through social media.
Be Kind to Your Body
Being deprived of sleep makes the day more difficult than it should be. Continued lack of sleep can have a significant impact on your health, including high blood pressure. Hypertension can be controlled, but only if you make the right changes in your life.
Start by treating your body well and making sleep a priority to help combat the risk of hypertension. Using breathable cotton sheets will also give you increased oxygen and increased blood flow to help you stay healthy while you sleep. This will allow your body to relax at night and focus only on the act of sleep.
Sleep Problems that Affect Blood Pressure
Several types of sleep problems can cause hypertension or make it difficult to control. The most common sleep problems affecting blood pressure are:
- Insomnia: The inability to fall asleep, stay asleep and restful sleep can contribute to hypertension.
- Obstructive sleep apnea: Intermittent episodes of interruption of breathing during sleep are strongly correlated with hypertension.
- Restless Leg Syndrome: There may be a relationship between RLS and high blood pressure, although the data are contradictory.
- Sleep deprivation: Less than six hours of sleep per night is correlated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure
The link between clinical insomnia, Restless Leg Syndrome and hypertension remains not tested. But if you have been diagnosed with hypertension and OSA, or if you have high blood pressure and sleep deprivation, you can take steps to resolve these underlying problems to help you better control your blood pressure.
What is the best position for measuring blood pressure?
The American Heart Association recommends sitting down to take blood pressure. They also note that although there are differences in the right arm in front of the left arm, they are small and cause only a variation of 10 mm Hg or less.
Other factors related to posture can also affect blood pressure readings. For an accurate reading in your doctor’s office, try:
- Sitting straight, with your back supported by the back of the chair.
- Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Avoid crossing your legs or ankles.
- Place your arm at heart level, resting it on a table or armrests. You may need to use a pillow to get the right elevation. There are cases when your blood pressure can be taken elongated. An example of this is if you have been hospitalized and cannot sit down.
If you have orthostatic hypotension, your blood pressure can be taken in two different positions: sitting and standing. This can help your doctor monitor how your blood pressure changes when you switch from sitting to standing.
Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of the back of the throat relax and block the respiratory tract during sleep. Researchers think that these ruptures in nocturnal oxygenation can activate the combat or theft mechanism of the body, thereby increasing blood pressure. Interestingly, however, the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices to maintain night breathing does not necessarily improve hypertension in people with sleep apnea and high blood pressure. However, if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and hypertension, you must follow the treatment plan to improve your sleep apnea, as this can have a positive effect on your blood pressure.