People who watch their blood pressure are used to hearing about diet and exercise. However, research indicates that high blood pressure may also be warded off in a surprising way - sleep. One recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Research has found that getting just one hour more of sleep a night may help people lower their blood pressure.
The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School. The study tracked a group of adults who all slept, on average, seven hours or less a night and had borderline high blood pressure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension - roughly 68 million adults. It is estimated that half of heart attacks and strokes are brought on by the condition.
Lack of sleep and stress are known to be risk factors for the condition.
The small study examined 22 middle-aged men and women. None had hypertension yet, but all of their blood pressure levels had increased and were on track toward reaching dangerous levels.
About half were told to continue their regular sleeping schedules, while 13 were told to sleep an hour earlier than they would normally.
All of the participants wore monitors tracking their blood pressures. They were all subjected to urine and blood tests.
The extended sleep group managed to receive 35 more minutes, on average, of extra sleep.
As a consequence, their blood pressure dropped by between eight and 14 mmHg.
The study is the first to find that blood pressure can be brought under control just by catching a few more hours of sleep.
This news may be welcome, but it is not entirely unsurprising. Increased sleep has been found to be something of a miracle cure, helping with weight loss, averting diabetes, and aiding children's behavior.