Daily Health Tips: Lack of Sleep and…. hypertension?


Q: Does lack of sleep cause hypertension? Is it only excessive salt that causes hypertension?

A: Sleeping less than 6 hours daily has been shown to affect the body’s ability to regulate stress hormones. These stress hormones like cortisol have been implicated in the development of high blood pressure. Generally, we need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily and so failing this on a regular basis certainly affects our health.

The causes of hypertension are divided into primary (essential) and secondary.

Essential hypertension has no known cause but pre-disposing factors include those we cannot really do anything about like family history (if you have a family history of hypertension, you are more prone to it), age (as you get older, your blood pressure increases) and race (blacks are more likely to be hypertensive).

Other pre-disposing factors include smoking, excessive alcohol intake, excessive oil intake, obesity, sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise), stress and lack of sleep too.

Secondary hypertension is due to an underlying medical condition like heart or kidney problems. Treatment is targeted at treating underlying medical condition.

Those at risk of essential hypertension are encouraged to make lifestyle modifications. This includes reducing salt intake and making sure there is no added salt after cooking, using healthy oils (olive oil) when cooking, exercising for at least 30 minutes everyday (this could be walking, using the treadmill and/or other gym equipment, dancing etc), portion control, stress reduction etc.

Remember that even when the oil is healthy, a little goes a loooong way! 😀 Don’t go dousing your veggies in Olive oil because it’s healthy. Every single tablespoonful is loaded with 120 calories. So when you use three soup ladles….you do the math 😀

And be sure to make your plate look colorful with veggies. Remember the 50, 25, 25 rule. 50% (half) of your plate should be filled with veggies, 25% (a quarter) should be filled with protein and the last 25% (a quarter) filled with complex carbohydrates.

Here’s to a healthier you!

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