Sleep problems can lead to heart health issues like high blood pressure, says new research

By Marnie Soman Schwartz
January 27, 2015
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Here's something new to worry about when you lie awake in bed at night: If you're an insomniac, the longer it takes you to fall asleep, the higher your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), reports a new study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

The researchers compared people with chronic insomnia (difficulty sleeping for six months or more) to those with normal sleep patterns, and found that insomniacs who took more than 14 minutes to fall asleep had a 300 percent increase in their hypertension risk, while those who took 17 minutes or more had a 400 percent increase in risk. Oh, and falling asleep immediately may not be great for you either-it could just be proof you're super sleep-deprived. (Your sleep habits also impact your love life: How Your Sleep Style Affects Your Relationship.)

Though you may associate insomnia with fatigue, a lengthened sleep latency (the amount of time it takes you to conk out) may point to a type of severe insomnia caused by hyperarousal. People with all-day hyperarousal can't fall asleep because their bodies don't wind down at night, and common ways to cope with tiredness (naps, caffeine) can actually make it worse, the study authors said in a press release. So what's a sleep-deprived girl to do? Stress can worsen hyperarousal, so stress management techniques could be of help. Any time you're under pressure, these 7 Yoga Poses to Help You Catch More Zzzs can help you get more zen-and, as a result, more snooze time.