• Sleep deprivation: A cause of high blood pressure?

    Is it true that sleep deprivation can cause high blood pressure?

    Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

    Restless Sleep

    Possibly. Sleep experts recommend that adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Getting less than six hours of sleep is known to be bad for overall health. Stress, jet lag, shift work and other sleep disturbances make it more likely to develop heart disease and risk factors for heart disease, including obesity and diabetes. A regular lack of sleep may lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) in children and adults.

    The less you sleep, the higher your blood pressure may go. People who sleep six hours or less may have steeper increases in blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, not sleeping well may make your blood pressure worse.

    It’s thought that sleep helps the body control hormones needed to control stress and metabolism. Over time, a lack of sleep could cause swings in hormones. Hormone changes can lead to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.

    Don’t try to make up for a lack of sleep with a lot of sleep. Too much sleep — although not as bad as too little sleep — can lead to high blood sugar and weight gain, which can affect heart health. Talk to your health care provider for tips on getting better sleep, especially if you have high blood pressure.

    One possible, treatable cause of lack of sleep contributing to high blood pressure is obstructive sleep apnea. This sleep disorder causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. Talk with your care provider if you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, especially if you snore. Obstructive sleep apnea may be the cause. Obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk of high blood pressure and other heart problems.

  • Sleep apnea associated with 50% higher risk of memory problems.

    Original Article | Medical News Today

    • A new study analyzes the impact of sleep apnea symptoms on memory and thinking.
    • Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that sometimes causes people to stop breathing.
    • The study subjects participated in a survey where they reported any symptoms of sleep apnea and difficulty with remembering things.
    • The study shows an association between sleep apnea symptoms and a higher rate of memory and thinking problems.

    Getting a good night’s sleep is important for many reasons, from having the energy to go about one’s daily tasks to optimal brain performance.

    Sleep apnea can interfere with this, and according to the National Council on Aging, it may impact around 39 million adults in the United States.

    While experts know sleep apnea can impact quality of life and even contribute to mood disordersTrusted Source, there is still more to learn.

    A researcher based in Boston recently conducted a cross-sectional study to determine whether a correlation between sleep apnea and thinking and memory problems exists.

    The findings showed that having sleep apnea symptoms correlated with a 50% increase in memory and thinking problems.

    The researcher will present the findings at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in April 2024. The research hasn’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    Sleep apnea linked to thinking and memory issues

    Most people with sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but some experts have said that OSA is underdiagnosed.

    For instance, researchersTrusted Source note, “it is believed that more than 85% of patients with clinically significant OSA have never been diagnosed.”

    With the notion that sleep apnea could be underdiagnosed in mind, researcher Dr. Dominique Low wanted to learn more about a possible connection between sleep apnea and cognition. Dr. Low works at Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts and is a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

    Dr. Low pulled data from a government-funded survey called the 2017–18 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to establish a potential link between sleep apnea and thinking and memory.

    The study participants included 4,257 adults ages 20 and older. Of the questionnaires they completed for the NHANES, they answered questions about sleep quality, memory, and thinking.

    Dr. Low used the data from these questionnaires to determine how people who reported sleep apnea symptoms compared to people without these symptoms.

    The participants also answered questions on their memory quality, whether they had any periods of confusion, and if the participants thought they had trouble making decisions.

    A total of 1,079 participants reported sleep apnea symptoms, including snoring and gasping for breath while asleep.

    Of people who indicated they had sleep apnea symptoms, 33% also reported symptoms of memory and thinking problems. This is significantly higher than the number of people without sleep apnea symptoms who reported such problems, which was only 20% of that group.

    After adjusting for other factors like age, race, and gender, Dr. Low observed that people with sleep apnea symptoms had a 50% higher chance of having thinking and memory issues compared to participants who didn’t report sleep apnea symptoms.

    “Our study found participants who had sleep apnea symptoms had greater odds of having memory or thinking problems,” Dr. Low said in a news release. “These findings highlight the importance of early screening for sleep apnea.”

    Despite the implications of these findings, it’s important to note that a correlation does not indicate causation. Scientists must conduct further research that does not rely solely on self-reported symptoms to establish the effects of sleep apnea symptoms on memory and thinking.

    Reducing the risk of cognitive decline

    Dr. Joey R. Gee, a neurologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California, spoke with Medical News Today about how sleep apnea may impact memory. Dr. Gee was not involved with the study.

    “Apnea may have an impact due to poor oxygenation through the night or also impairing appropriate sleep cycles with frequent arousals,” Dr. Gee noted. “Impaired executive functions, such as working memory and attention through the day, are greatly impacted.”

    Dr. Gee said that while untreated sleep apnea may impact cognitive function, the risk could be reduced with appropriate treatment.

    “Just as untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of impairment in executive function and attention, treatment can substantially reduce the risk of progressing cognitive decline,” Dr. Gee said.

    Dr. Thomas Kilkenny, the director of the Institute of Sleep Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, not involved in the study, emphasized the importance of treating sleep apnea as soon as it is detected.

    “If the patient can be treated early in OSA, these brain damages will not occur,” Dr. Kilkenny told MNT. “There will be a decrease in the amount of cognitive decline in OSA patients.”

    Dr. David Merrill, a geriatric psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Pacific Brain Health Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, not involved with the study, shared his thoughts on the findings with MNT:

    “With high quality, restorative sleep, the brain’s function is enhanced and protected as we age,” explained Dr. Merrill. “If sleep is chronically disrupted, this can lead to a number of health issues, including headaches, fatigue, and memory loss that worsens over time. The disrupted, poor-quality sleep seen in sleep disorders leads to both acute and chronically worsening changes in the brain. Normally, a good night’s sleep literally allows for repair and restoration of brain function to the levels seen at the beginning of the prior day.”

    Dr. Merrill also spoke about the importance of treating sleep apnea and noted that it is a risk factor for developing dementia. While that may sound scary, he said that using a CPAP machine can help reduce risk.

    Research studiesTrusted Source have shown that even 4 hours per night using a CPAP device results in significantly less worsening of cognitive decline over time,” said Dr. Merrill.

    What to know about sleep apnea

    Sleep apnea, including obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, can affect people of all ages but, as the National Council on Aging notes (link above), it is most prevalent in middle-aged and older adults.

    Some symptomsTrusted Source of sleep apnea a person may detect on their own include:

    • sleepiness during the day
    • headaches
    • difficulty focusing

    A person’s partner may notice additional symptoms such as snoring or gasping for breath while asleep.

    “Signs of obstructive sleep apnea are usually readily apparent,” Dr. Kilkenny said.

    “Loud snoring, restlessness, and daytime fatigue are the hallmarks of OSA,” he noted. “If someone snores even to a minor degree, they should bring this to the attention of their physician so they can get tested for OSA before damage occurs.”

    People with sleep apnea can treat it using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

    They may also try to improve symptoms by making lifestyle changes such as losing weight. They may also have surgery or use an oral appliance.

  • Too Little Sleep Might Raise a Woman’s Odds for Diabetes

    Original Article | Dennis Thompson, Published in HealthDay Magazine

    Key Takeaways

    • Women who get poor sleep might have an increased risk of diabetes
    • Getting just 90 minutes less sleep increased insulin resistance in women
    • Researchers will look at whether better sleep helps control diabetes

    TUESDAY, Nov. 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Women who don’t get enough sleep might have an increased risk of diabetes, an effect even more pronounced in postmenopausal females, a new study finds.

    Shortening sleep by just 90 minutes increased insulin resistance in women used to getting adequate sleep, researchers at Columbia University.

    The findings are the first to show that even a mild sleep deficit maintained for six weeks can raise the risk of diabetes, researchers said.

    “Throughout their lifespan, women face many changes in their sleep habits due to childbearing, child-rearing and menopause,” said lead researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge, director of the Center of Excellence for Sleep and Circadian Research at Columbia University in New York City. “And more women than men have the perception they aren’t getting enough sleep.”

    For this study, St-Onge and her colleagues enrolled 38 healthy women, 11 of whom had gone through menopause.

    All of the women routinely slept at least seven hours each night. The recommended amount of sleep for optimal health is between seven and nine hours, researchers said, but about a third of Americans get less sleep than that.

    Each of the women were asked to participate in two different phases of the study, in random order.

    Women were asked to maintain their regular adequate sleep in one phase, but in the other phase they were asked to delay their bedtime by an hour and a half, shortening their total sleep to around six hours. Each phase lasted six weeks.

    Curtailing sleep by 90 minutes for six weeks increased fasting insulin levels by more than 12% overall, and by 15% among premenopausal women.

    Insulin resistance increased by nearly 15% overall, and by more than 20% among postmenopausal women.

    Average blood sugar levels remained stable for all participants throughout the study, but researchers said the changes in insulin resistance could cause them to start rising in the long-term.

    Although increased belly fat is a key driver of insulin resistance, the researchers found that the effects of sleep loss on insulin resistance were not linked to any increases in fat.  

    “The fact that we saw these results independent of any changes in body fat, which is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes, speaks to the impact of mild sleep reduction on insulin-producing cells and metabolism,” St-Onge said.  

    Researchers will next investigate whether better sleep can improve blood sugar control and glucose metabolism.

    The study was published Nov. 13 in the journal Diabetes Care.

    More information

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sleep and diabetes.

    SOURCE: Columbia University, news release, Nov. 13, 2023

  • Five Weird Signs of Sleep Apnea

    Original Article | By Sandee Lamotte CNN

    Sign up for CNN’s Sleep, But Better newsletter series. Our seven-part guide has helpful hints to achieve better sleep.CNN — 

    If you snore the house down, you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA — a potentially dangerous condition in which people stop breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time.

    The condition has been linked to smaller brain volume, damage to the white matter communication pathway in the brain and even a three times higher risk of dying from any cause. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea puts you at higher risk for hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and even an early death, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

    Yet even if you’re a rock star at snoring, you may not know you have obstructive sleep apnea unless someone tells you about your nocturnal roars. That’s why it’s important for partners and friends to speak up and encourage snorers to get professional help.

    But what if you have an odd or quirky symptom besides snoring? You and your loved ones may have no idea that you are in danger, and the condition could go undiagnosed for years.

    “Greater than 30 million people have sleep apnea in the United States, yet it’s often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed,” said sleep specialist and pulmonologist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

    “It’s really misdiagnosed in women versus men because women may not present with the classic, heroic snoring that men often show,” he said.

    Here are five weird signs of obstructive sleep apnea to watch for, according to Dasgupta.

    Headache as a result of sleep apnea

    Night sweats

    There are many reasons people may sweat at night. It could be too hot, especially with the persistent heat waves in the past few years due to the climate crisis. Certain medications can cause night sweats, as can cancer, thyroid issues, the flu and bacterial infections, and the onset of menopausal symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    But research has shown that about 30% of people with obstructive sleep apnea have reported night sweats, Dasgupta said.

    “It’s because your body isn’t getting enough oxygen you fall into this sympathetic fight-or-flight mode, which triggers night sweats,” he said. “The research showed people with OSA that had night sweats were also more likely to have really low oxygen levels on top of having obstructive sleep apnea.”

    Sleep apnea can cause you to wake up tired, have difficulty regulating emotions and suffer from brain fog, experts say.

    Frequent awakenings

    Many people get up at night to empty their bladders — it can be caused by alcohol overindulgence, diabetes, edema, high blood pressure, certain medications, pregnancy, prostate issues and even drinking too many fluids before bed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

    But getting up at least two times a night to urinate — which is called nocturia — can also be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, Dasgupta said.

    “One study found about 50% of patients with OSA had nocturia, and they noted that treatment for the sleep disorder did cut back on awakenings,” he said.

    Nevertheless, frequent nighttime urination is not commonly asked about in screening questionnaires on sleep apnea in primary provider offices, Dasgupta said.

    Teeth grinding

    Grinding or clenching teeth while sleeping is called bruxism, and it too may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, Dasgupta said.

    “Certainly, anxiety and other factors can cause bruxism, but a common cause is obstructive sleep apnea,” he said. “There’s a theory on why — the airway becomes obstructed, so the muscles in the mouth and jaw move to try to free the blocked airway. That’s not been proven, but it is an interesting hypothesis.”

    Most people who grind or clench their teeth use a mouthguard suggested by their dentist for protection, but it won’t protect the jaw, Dasgupta said.

    “So, a person might also develop TMJ (dysfunction), which is pain in the temporomandibular joint, and that may also lead to other issues, such as headaches,” he said.

    Morning headaches

    Studies have found a link between having obstructive sleep apnea and waking up with a headache, Dasgupta said.

    “They typically occur daily or most days of the week and may last for several hours after awakening in the morning,” he said. “The cause of the headaches is not well-established and may be multifactorial.”

    Headaches caused by obstructive sleep apnea don’t appear to lead to nausea or increased sensitivity to light and sound. Instead, they seem to be a pressing sensation on both sides of the forehead that lasts about 30 minutes, according to a June 2015 study.

    Depression, fatigue and insomnia

    Some symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea can disguise themselves as issues of mental health, brain fog or other sleep problems, Dasgupta said.

    “Sleep affects our ability to think, react, remember and solve problems,” he said. “Women especially have a tendency to underreport atypical symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue and depression.”

    If obstructive sleep apnea awakens you, it may be hard to go back to sleep. A person may suspect insomnia, not realizing that a different issue may be triggering the awakenings.

    Symptoms of daytime fatigue include a lack of motivation to accomplish everyday tasks, a lack of productivity at work, memory problems and a low interest in being social, Dasgupta said. Those are also signs of depression, so if the sleep issues aren’t brought up at a health visit, the underlying cause may be missed.

  • Diets high in fats and sugar impact deep sleep quality, study finds

    Original Article | Medical News Today

    For better sleep quality, it’s best to avoid foods high in fats and sugars, a new study confirms. CWP, LLC/Stocksy

    • A study conducted by scientists from Uppsala University investigated the impact of a high-fat/high-sugar diet, also known as a junk food diet, on sleep.
    • The researchers found that after consuming the unhealthy diet, the quality of deep sleep in participants worsened compared to when they followed a healthier diet.
    • Although the duration of sleep and overall sleep structure were not significantly different between the two diets, the unhealthy diet was associated with reduced deep sleep quality and changes in some important sleep patterns.
    Burger and Fries

    Limited evidence exists regarding the influence of certain foods on sleep, leading researchers to conduct a randomised trial investigating the effects of a high-fat/high-sugar diet on sleep.

    A new study, published in ObesityTrusted Source, aimed to gather intervention-based evidence by examining the impact of this diet on sleep patterns in healthy individuals.

    The researchers found that after consuming the unhealthy diet, the quality of deep sleep in the participants worsened compared to when they followed the healthier diet.

    A group of 15 healthy men took part in a study where they were given two different diets to follow. They were randomly assigned to either a high-fat/high-sugar diet or a low-fat/low-sugar diet for one week each.

    After each diet, the researchers recorded the participants’ sleep patterns in a laboratory setting using a method called polysomnography, a sleep monitoring technique.

    They looked at the duration of sleep, as well as the different stages and patterns of sleep, including things like oscillatory patterns and slow waves.

    Using machine learning to analyze sleep

    The study found that the duration of sleep was not significantly different between the two diets, as measured by both actigraphy — a method of monitoring sleep using a wearable device — and in-lab polysomnography.

    When comparing two different diets, the researchers found that the structure of sleep remained similar after one week on each diet.

    However, when they compared a diet high in fat and sugar to a diet low in fat and sugar, they noticed that the former diet was linked to lower levels of certain sleep characteristics during deep sleep.

    These characteristics included delta power, which is a measure of slow brain waves, the ratio of delta to beta waves, and the amplitude of slow waves.

    All of these changes suggested that the quality of deep sleep was reduced on the high-fat/high-sugar diet.

    Dr. Florencia Halperin, chief medical officer at Form, a company that provides medical treatment for obesity and associated metabolic conditions, not involved in this research, told Medical News Today that “evidence has been mounting over the last decade about the relationship between sleep and metabolic disease.”

    “Poor sleep adversely affects hormonal and metabolic parameters and increases the risk of weight gain and metabolic disease. At the same time, weight gain increases the risk of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. So the relationship is very complex, and there is so much we still don’t understand.”

    – Dr. Florencia Halperin

    Limited sample size

    Dr. Halperin pointed out that “the results suggested that consumption of an unhealthier [high-fat/high-sugar] diet results in changes to the pattern of sleep.”

    “While the macro-architecture was not affected, changes in some sleep parameters observed (less relative power in delta frequencies and a lower delta to beta ratio) were consistent with a less restorative sleep state, as might be seen in an older population,” Dr. Halperin noted.

    Kristen Carli, a registered dietitian nutritionist, also not involved in this research, highlighted a few limitations to the study, noting the small sample size of only 15 healthy young men.

    “No women, older adults, or children were evaluated meaning that these results should not be extrapolated to the general population,” Carli pointed out.

    Dr. Halperin agreed, saying that “we must keep in mind only 15 people were studied, they were all men, and only studied for 1 week — so we will need further research to validate these findings.”

    Unhealthy diet may impact sleep patterns

    However, Dr. Halperin noted that “this study is important and relevant to patients and the public because it provides novel insight into how lifestyle factors such as the diet we consume affect our sleep, which in turn affects our overall health.”

    “This is early evidence that a typical unhealthier diet may affect our sleep in very specific ways, and therefore our sleep-regulated health parameters, such as cognition and hormone secretion, which then modulate other effects on our health.”

    – Dr. Florencia Halperin

    Dr. Halperin explained that while the study helps to raise awareness about the relationship between sleep and overall health, the current findings are unlikely to impact medical practice at the current time, given the early nature of this research.

    However, “I may share this research with [my patients] to educate them about the many many ways changing our diet can contribute to improved health — even without any weight loss!” Dr. Halperin said.

    Carli pointed out that the “implications of this study are that the high-fat/high-sugar diet can impact sleep quality.”

    Does diet impact sleep or vice versa?

    “While the results of this one study should not be extrapolated widely, these results are not exactly surprising,” she added.

    “Sugar has been shown to impact sleep quality in prior researchTrusted Source, as well as a high-fat diet. However, I will note many researchers pose whether the diet is impacting the sleep quality or the other way around. Regardless, as a registered dietitian, there are many other health benefits, besides sleep quality, to consider choosing a low-fat/low-sugar diet, including weight lossheart health, chronic disease prevention, etc.”

    – Kristin Carli

    Ultimately, as Dr. Halperin explained, “this evidence suggests that a healthier diet might help us get healthier sleep.”

    “Another way to look at it is that this is perhaps one more proof point that our parents were right after all — we all need to eat our veggies, and go to bed on time!”

  • Sleeping five hours or less increases risk of chronic illnesses, study warns

    Original Article | By Judy Packer-Tursman

    Getting a good night's sleep of more than five hours can help older people avoid developing multiple chronic illnesses, a new study suggests. Photo by Wokandapix/Pixabay

    Getting a good night’s sleep of more than five hours can help older people avoid developing multiple chronic illnesses, a new study suggests. Photo by Wokandapix/Pixabay

    Oct. 18 (UPI) — Older people who get five hours of sleep a night or less may face a far greater risk of developing two or more chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes, compared to people who sleep longer, a new study suggests.

    The research, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, tracked the impact of sleep duration on the health of more than 7,000 men and women at the ages of 50, 60 and 70.

    This was done via a 25-year follow up of participants in the Whitehall II cohort study involving members of the British civil service.

    The British and French researchers, led by University College London, found that sleeping for five hours or less at the ages of 50, 60, and 70 was linked to a 30% to 40% increased risk of developing multiple chronic diseases versus people who slept for up to seven hours.

    The investigators also examined the relationship between each participant’s length of nightly sleep and mortality. They found that nightly sleep that lasted five hours or less at age 50 was associated with a 25% increased risk of death over the 25 years of follow-up.

    This is primarily because short sleep duration increases the risk of chronic illness that in turn increases the risk of death, the release said.

    The scientists also analyzed whether sleeping for nine hours or more affected health outcomes, but they found no clear link between this sleep duration and developing chronic diseases for healthy people at age 50.

    RELATED Getting enough sleep key to a healthy immune system

    However, for those individuals already diagnosed with a chronic condition, such long sleep was associated with roughly a 35% increased risk of developing another illness, possibly due to underlying health conditions affecting sleep, they said.

    “As people get older, their sleep habits and sleep structure change. However, it is recommended to sleep for seven to eight hours a night — as sleep durations above or below this have previously been associated with individual chronic diseases,” Séverine Sabia, the study’s lead author said in the release.

    A researcher/epidemiologist at University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health and at Inserm, Université Paris Cité, Sabia advised having good sleep hygiene, such as ensuring the bedroom is quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature before going to bed.

    RELATED Going to bed too early or sleeping too much can increase dementia risk, study says

    She also suggested avoiding large meals before bedtime.

    The study used self-reported data on sleep, which the researchers noted is likely to be subject to reporting bias.

    Sponsors of the research included the National Institute on Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health, the U.K. Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation.