They were just where you needed them to be. Now that you’re older, it’s a little different.
These days, your doctor is more likely to look closer at those numbers.
And you’re more likely to look closely. Because you both realize maintaining healthy blood pressure is more important than ever.
But what happens if, in spite of your best efforts, you just haven’t quite figured out the proper equation for keeping those numbers exactly where you want them?
Maybe that’s when it’s time to look at how much sleep you’re getting.
That’s right – sleep. Because sleep and blood pressure are linked in ways you may not realize.
Sleep, By the Numbers – and How It Works
In several studies, people who got less than six hours of sleep per night were at an increased risk of unhealthy blood pressure. In fact, people who slept that little were 20% more likely to deal with blood pressure concerns than people who got more than six hours of sleep per night.
Sleep and blood pressure are linked through the production of stress hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep, your stress system gets activated, increasing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body.
Both of these hormones are fine in small amounts – necessary, even – but not every night and certainly not during sleep, when your body is supposed to be able to recharge and restore itself.
See, sleep is when your body balances those hormones so your blood pressure stays healthy. Without enough sleep, those hormone levels get out of balance, and your blood pressure gets out of whack.
When it comes to sleep and blood pressure, your goal should be between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.
Two Options, Working Hand in Hand
In order to maintain the healthiest blood pressure possible, you’re going to want to take two paths, simultaneously.
1. Get more sleep
2. Make smart blood pressure choices when you’re awake
Because no matter how much sleep you get, if you’re not making healthy choices for your blood pressure, you’re not going to like your numbers. But, as we’ve just established, you’ll have much better reactions to your daytime choices if you’re getting enough sleep at night. Blood pressure and sleep, hand in hand.
So what are you supposed to do now? Read on…
How to Help at Night…
Maybe you just didn’t realize the connection between sleep and blood pressure and, now that you know it, you’ll go to bed earlier. If that’s the case, congratulations!
However, if you’re getting less than seven hours of sleep a night because you can’t sleep, here are three ways to help with that.
Learn to relax. This step takes place before you ever get into bed. For some people, this means meditation or deep breathing. For others, it’s a hot bath or a cup of herbal tea before bed. Whatever it means to you, embrace it. Experiment some if you need to. That’s okay – and there’s no right answer. Learning to relax really shouldn’t make you stressed! Practice meditation during the day. Or give yourself a relaxing hour before bedtime. The key is to find your way to wind down so that when you get into bed, you sleep, not stress.
Use progressive relaxation. Once you get into bed, finish your relaxation technique with progressive relaxation. Starting with your toes, tense each muscle group – toes, calves, thighs, and so on – for a count of seven, then relax. As you relax each muscle group, move up to the next one, repeating the tense and relax pattern, until you’ve made it all the way up your body. By the time you get to your neck, your whole body will be peaceful. Not only does this help with overall relaxation, it’s been linked to better quality of sleep, as well.
Listen to white noise/right noise. The dripping faucet. The heat turning on and off. Maybe the person next to you snoring. All kinds of noises can keep you awake, or disturb your sleep. Instead of waking up every time a car drives by, find the sounds that help you sleep. From investing in a white noise machine, to simply downloading the sounds of the ocean onto your laptop, the options are practically limitless.
And How to Help During the Day…
Now you’ve figured out how to use bedtime and sleep to help maintain your blood pressure, it’s important you keep up with your smart daytime choices too.
Eat properly. The same foods that are good for your heart are good for your blood pressure. Make sure you get plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins every day. And while you don’t have to give up your favorite indulgences completely, do make sure that you limit high fat, high salt, and high fat foods.
Move your body. Exercise is a key component of healthy blood pressure numbers, so get moving. Walk, dance, take an aerobics class, or go for a swim. Whatever you enjoy doing, do it. The goal is two and a half hours a week of moderate activity – about thirty minutes a day, every weekday. It’s okay to break a sweat. After all, the point isn’t to stroll but to exercise!
Find the supplement that works for you. Very few people get every single vitamin, mineral, and amino acid they need for optimal health from diet alone. And there are plants and herbs that can help maintain healthy blood pressure numbers in their own right, too. So find a supplement that helps you help your body – like Healthy Aging, our all-in-one anti-aging, healthy blood pressure, healthy heart, healthy mind, healthy YOU supplement.
Bottom line is this – daily choices are important but sleep is important too. If your numbers are where you want them, getting seven to eight hours of sleep will help keep them there.
And if your blood pressure numbers aren’t where you’d like them, getting sleep may help bring them into a healthier range. Either way, get enough sleep and your blood pressure numbers will show it.