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Top 10 Sleep Habits for People with High Blood Pressure Linked to Restless Legs Syndrome

Tim Boyer's picture

High blood pressure linked to restless legs syndrome could be a result of interrupted sleep patterns. Numerous studies show that uninterrupted sleep is necessary for good health, especially toward lowering high blood pressure after a day filled with anxiety, job-related stress and non-stop activities. The National Sleep Foundation suggests ten nightly sleep habits everyone should use to ensure a good night’s rest.

In a recent article published in the journal Hypertension, researchers report a link between restless legs syndrome and high blood pressure. In the study, a questionnaire was given to over 65,000 nurses asking if they had experienced symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS). In addition, they were also questioned whether they had high blood pressure as well. The results of the study revealed that in comparison to 21 percent of the women who reported no RLS symptoms, 33 percent of those who did report experiencing restless legs syndrome also reported being hypertensive.

Although a relationship appears to exist between restless legs syndrome and high blood pressure, the researchers admit that their data does not indicate that restless legs syndrome has a direct causal relationship with high blood pressure.

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An editorial regarding the results of the study points out that a lack of sleep may be the cause of the increased blood pressure seen in some restless legs syndrome patients. Dr. Domenic Sica, a professor of medicine and pharmacology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond is reported to have stated that sleep is needed to “calm” a person down and lower his or her blood pressure. "If you don't sleep, you never have enough rest to bring your blood pressure down at night, which is what it's supposed to do," Sica said. "Blood pressure is supposed to drop about 20 percent at night.” Restless legs syndrome is well-known for its interference with normal sleeping patterns.

If you have restless legs syndrome and/or are chronically tired due to a lack of a good night’s sleep for other reasons, the National Sleep Foundation offers ten tips on how to set your body up for a restive night in bed. A summary of the tips is as follows:

1. Be regular when you go to bed and when you wake up—even during weekends and holidays.
2. Find a relaxing bedtime routine such as a soak in a hot bath, reading a good book or listening to music that it soothing. Avoid anything that will excite your body and your nerves before going to bed.
3. Create a sleep-inducing environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
4. Your bed should consist of a comfortable mattress and pillows.
5. No TV, computers or work from the office. Sleep and sex are the only activities allowed in your bed.
6. Try not to eat 2-3 hours before bedtime, avoid spicy foods and limit yourself to only just enough non-caffeinated drinks to keep you hydrated till morning.
7. Exercise regularly and at least 3 hours before bedtime.
8. Avoid caffeine-containing products such as chocolate, tea, soda and coffee at least 6-8 hours before going to bed.
9. Say no to nicotine before going to bed—even if it is your idea of a relaxing activity. Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant.
10. Say no to nightcaps. Although it can make you drowsy, alcohol actually leads to less restful sleep.
For a look at potential genetic causes of restless legs syndrome go to http://www.emaxhealth.com/8782/restless-legs-syndrome-new-name-candidate-genes-rls-sufferers

Source: National Sleep Foundation: Reference



I have learned that I sleep best when the room air is fresh and the temperature is usually lower. When it's too warm it's hard to sleep and I occasionally wake up in the middle of the night. I wonder about the relationship between the room temperature and blood pressure level. When the weather is good I leave the windows open and sleep much better.