Tag Archives: sleep disorder

Young woman sleeping at night in bed
Facts, Health

How Not To Lose Sleep Over Hypertension

The part of the nervous system in vertebrates controlling involuntary actions of the smooth muscles, the heart and the glands is called the autonomic nervous system. Sleep alters its functions and initiates certain physiological events important for normal functioning of the body. When there’s a lack of sleep, one of the outcomes is high blood pressure. This worsens the sleep cycle furthermore but let’s take things one at a time. We’ll start with nocturnal blood pressure (BP).

Sleep, or normal sleep makes blood pressure dip. Nocturnal dipping is between 10% and 20% (both in systolic and diastolic) compared to daytime. When blood pressure drops less than 10%, it is considered abnormal. It indicates an increased cardiovascular risk which translates to an approximately 20% greater risk in mortality. The reasons can be the development of chronic kidney diseases and diabetes due to the high blood pressure and may give rise to resistant hypertension, which is: you have grown tolerance to at least three optimally-dosed medications and not being able to keep your blood pressure under control. The other risk is OSA (obstructive sleep apnea, or… snoring), which occurs when you get to breathe less than you need while asleep.

Sleep Duration and Hypertension Statistics

Following are important statistics about how sleep patterns have changed over the years and is having an increasing impact on our day to day lives.

When high blood pressure doesn’t let you sleep

Really? But we thought it’s a lack of sleep that brings high BP. Yes, but also the other way round and that’s what we are actually interested in. It’s chiefly the BP medications that interfere with the sleep patterns; for example, Alpha-blockers (Uroxatral, Cardura, Minipress, Rapaflo etc.) cuts down REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. In case of Beta-blockers like Tenormin and Coreg, they often bring nighttime awakenings and nightmares by blocking melatonin. Over a long span, they can start chronic insomnia.

Those on ACE-inhibitors (Lotensin, Capoten, Vasotec) also run a risk of losing their sleep since these medications cause a hacking, dry cough. These also increases potassium levels in the body and can lead to diarrhea, leg cramps and body ache; all these add up to sleepless nights. Please ask your doctor if you can change into a safer benzothiazepine calcium channel blockers. If you are above 65 years, medicines like Avodart or Proscar shall prove better. Additionally, you must also try sublingual (under-the-tongue) doses of vitaminB12 (1,000 mcg daily) and B6 (200 mg daily) along with Folic acid (800 mcg daily).

Ways to lower blood pressure naturally

Wonders of Nature comes again to rescue! These herbs exhibit blood pressure lowering potential.

  • Garlic: A very effective herb also against hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), it increases nitric oxide production and relaxes smooth muscles. Garlic decreases BP and lipid peroxidation only when it’s needed and not in healthy people. But it does increase levels of vitamins C and E, which are powerful antioxidants that repair you from within.
  • Prickly Custard apple: Use the leaf extract to decrease peripheral vascular resistance and lower an elevated BP.
  • Celery: Mix an equal amount of its juice and honey (8 ounces total) and take it orally, three times a day for one week. It will reduce both systolic and diastolic BP. With vinegar, it relieves dizziness, headaches and shoulder pain that often show up with BP.
  • Green Oat: Replaces antihypertensive medications effectively and improves BP control. However, don’t rush it; ask your doctor to guide you towards tapering down the dose of medications. Don’t worry, the oats shall fill in the place of the medications.

Gaining back a good night’s sleep by fighting hypertension is easier said than done. However, these recommendations will work better if combined with the methods and measures stated in the previous installments. Remember, Hypertension is more of a symptom and a sign of a disorder, not a disorder itself in most of the cases. Once you know how to eliminate the root cause, you cure a lot of other problems also that were troubling you all this time.

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Lazy man against gray background.
Close up of a tired guy.

The Real Cost of a Sleepless Night

You know when the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) states that sleep disorders have become a national health epidemic that the issue is probably pretty serious. For those of you who are part of this ‘epidemic,’ you know the toll that countless sleepless nights can take on you, both physically and mentally. But that is only part of the real cost of sleepdisorders according to several new studies. The issue has become so widespread that employers are now able to put an actual dollar amount on the negative effects caused by their exhausted employees. And overall, it’s in the millions!

Sleep Disorders And Nuclear Meltdowns

While many people can have a few nights of interrupted sleep here and there and cope just fine, it’s those of us who suffer with the curse of chronic insomnia and other sleep-related disorders that truly understand how seriously lack of sleep does affect us.
Did you know that sleep deprivation was actually a factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island? What if I were to tell you that the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl was also related to lack of sleep? How about the horrific Exxon Valdez oil spill that killed close to 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, close to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs according to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council? Yup, you guessed it. Lack of sleep coupled with an excessive workload was stated as the cause behind why the third mate failed to properly maneuver the huge vessel. While there were other factors involved, it is actually sad that just a little sleep could have possibly prevented this unfathomable disaster.

Lack of sleep is also the cause of close to 100,000 car accidents in the US every year. And surprisingly it’s people under the age of 25 who are more likely to cause these accidents. Studies have proven that drowsiness behind the wheel can slow your reaction time as much as if you were drinking. The difference is that the majority of people who know they are drunk don’t get behind the wheel. We don’t hesitate in most cases if we are tired, which is pretty scary when you think of the consequences.

Drowsy Drivers Road Sign

How Sleep Disorder Affects Your Memory

Lack of sleep also affects your ability to pay attention. It can also severely affect your ability to stay alert and concentrate. Reasoning and problem-solving abilities decline significantly with lack of sleep. For students, this can make learning more difficult, especially since many of the different sleep cycles we are supposed to undergo, help us to “consolidate” memories, meaning if you don’t get enough sleep, you will have a very hard time remembering what you learned or experienced during the day.

In 2009, researchers showed that specific brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for this memory consolidation. These ripples also transfer any information we may have learned from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep… sleep that insomniacs and others who suffer from various sleep disorders rarely get.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


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