Experts have discovered that people who toss and turn
before nodding off are at a higher risk of high blood pressure and
heart problems.

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 A new study conducted by the West China
hospital is the first to establish the link between difficulty
getting to sleep and high blood pressure. Researchers studied 219
chronic insomniacs and 96 normal sleepers with an average age of
40, 60 per cent of whom were women. They defined chronic insomnia
as difficulty sleeping for more than six months.

Participants spent one night in a
specially equipped sleep laboratory and were allowed four 20-minute
nap opportunities at two-hour intervals. Half the participants took
14 minutes or less to fall asleep and half took more than 14
minutes to fall asleep. Those that took more than 14 minutes to
fall asleep were considered 'hyperaroused'. Taking longer than 17
minutes to get to sleep increased the odds of suffering high blood
pressure by 400 per cent.

Dr Xiangdong Tang, a professor of
sleep medicine at West China Hospital in Sichuan University said:
"We observed a strong correlation between the degree of
physiological hyperarousal (sleep difficulty) and

The co-author Professor Alexandros
Vgontzas, of Pennsylvania State University in the US, said: "Those
insomniacs who were hyperalert during the day and unable to relax
and fall asleep during the multiple latency sleep test had the
higher risk of hypertension. Feeling hyperalert or sleepy doesn't
allow people to function at their best, feel well during the day or
sleep well at night, although insomniacs complain of fatigue and
tiredness during the day, their problem is that they cannot relax
and that they are hyper." 

Experts recommend that if you are struggling to get
to sleep at night, to avoid napping, caffeine or other stimulants
that are used to combat fatigue in the day to help you feel less
hyper at night, getting a better night's sleep.  

For helpful sleep tips from our
resident sleep expert, Dr Nerina, visit our Sleep Toolkit