Whether you have high blood pressure or not, you need your sleep. Studies have shown that poor sleep can cause weight gain, fatigue, irritability, accidents, impair alertness, kill sex drive, causes health problems such as high blood pressure and much more.
According to Mayo Clinic’s Doctor Sheldon G. Sheps, “people who sleep five hours or less a night may be at higher risk of developing high blood pressure or worsening already high blood pressure. There’s also an increased risk of high blood pressure for people who sleep between five and six hours a night.” A study conducted by The American Heart Association’s demonstrated that for people who already have high blood pressure, insomnia can have serious consequences.
Sleep is critical because it helps our blood to regulate our stress hormones and our nervous system to remain healthy. While poor sleep can cause or aggravate high blood pressure, Mayo Clinic’s Doctor Sheldon G. Sheps explains that seven to eight hours of sleep can improve or prevent it.
To help you to improve your sleep and your blood pressure, we put together the following Better Sleep Tips that we compiled from various reports and articles written by experts in the field and from our community members.
Better Sleep Tips
According to sleep expert and author of The Good Sleep Guide, Sammy Margo, it’s important to create time and a routine before bedtime that will help you unwind. For instance, reduce the light in your bedroom, take a warm bath with or without candles, drink non-caffeinated hot tea, listen to relaxing music or an audio book or simply read. Hot bath or a shower tend to relax muscles and reduce the day’s tension. Some experts report that showers tend to wake us up while baths don’t.
Eat early and do not go to bed with a full stomach. Try to eat no later than 9 PM, 7 PM is ideal. Avoid having anything with caffeine. Caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolate causes hyperactivity and wakefulness.
Breathing exercises before going to sleep can help the body relax. Close your eyes and take deep breaths from the abdomen and not from the chest. Breathe slower and deeper so your lungs fill up. As you slow down your breathing, you will notice your body relaxing. Nicole Shaw, a Resperate owner, shared with us that he uses the Resperate device before going to sleep to assure that he conducts the most effective breathing exercises. Michael found, like many people that, doing the breathing exercises on his own were frustrating and hard to follow. Since using Resperate he has been able to sleep better and up to 8 hours a night.
Sounds funny? Well, it may, but according to Sammy Margo by wearing socks to bed you can reduce middle-of-the-night wake ups. “Feet have the poorest circulation,” Margo explained to the Huffington Post, “and tend to feel cold before the rest of the body.” When feet get cold at night they tend to cause people to wake up and disrupt their peaceful night’s sleep. It’s important to avoid a disruptive sleep and assure yourself a full night of 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and get some fresh air or immediately open your window shades to let in the morning sun. Some people even sleep with the shades up so that they wake up to the sunlight and they feel immediately refreshed. The quicker you expose yourself to sunlight or light in the morning, the faster your body will understand it’s morning and time to start the day. Even if it’s a grey day, the sunlight seeping through the clouds will still help maintain your sleep rhythm. In the evening as it gets dark your biological clock will understand that it’s time to rest.
We either love or hate routine and there are good arguments for and against both. But, no one can argue that establishing a routine gets us into a rhythm and when it comes to sleep it will do wonders to your health and stress levels. Plus, it will make going to bed and waking up easier. So, set your bedtime and wake-up alarm at the same time every day, including weekends. Ok, you can sleep a bit extra on the weekends, but you will be surprised to discover that once you get into a sleep rhythm you will probably wake up the same time on the weekends.
No matter how tempting it is or you feel you deserve it, never sleep late because of a poor night’s sleep. Always get up around the same time every day, especially when you lose sleep. Waking up at a different time for just a couple of days will reset your body clock to a different cycle and you’ll get sleepy later and wake up later.
Since you spend 6 to 8 hours a day sprawled out on sheets, wrapped in a blanket and resting your head on a pillow case… you should take your bedding seriously. To start, it’s important to change your sheets once a week so that they are clean, crisp and fresh. Try washing your sheets in fragrant fabric softener or alternatively place a few drops of relaxing aromatherapy oils on your pillow. Relaxing fragrances are said to generate a calming effect which will induce better quality deep sleep leaving you more rested, energetic and alert the next morning. By dusting your bedding regularly you can help minimize irritations in the body’s airways, which could disrupt sleep. Choose sheets that feel comfortable against your skin. The more cotton the better. Research carried out by Lenor, a leading fabric softener company, has shown that 67% of people surveyed slept better on freshly washed bed sheets.
The temperature of your bedroom can easily affect your peaceful night’s sleep. If you’re too warm or cold it can lead to an uncomfortable night’s sleep, especially if it’s too hot. According to Sammy Margo, our bodies work hard to regulate our temperature while asleep, “so help it along with cool, breathable cottons and keep the room comfortably cool.”
People who exercise regularly tend to experience better quality sleep. Aerobic exercise in particular has a significant impact on sleep especially when it’s done in daylight so try to integrate exercise into your life by moving throughout the day. Small initiatives like walking instead of driving; taking the stairs instead of the escalator or a lunch time walk in the park can make a difference.
While technology has made our lives easier in some ways, they’ve also created new challenges such as over-stimulation. Computers, mobiles, smart phones, tablets and TVs all over stimulate our minds and ruin sleep, so it’s best to set up a turn off time that will allow you to unwind before bed. Also keep these wonderful devices outside the bedroom so you are not tempted to email, text, check your number of Likes or comments. While Sammy Margo suggests 9pm as an ideal time other specialists recommend 10 PM to turn off. The key here is finding what time works for you to gain relax before bed.
Sleep in complete darkness or as close to that as you can. Even if you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it’s best to keep the lights turned off. The moment you turn on the light, your body will immediately cease all production of the important sleep aid melatonin which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.