‘You know those people who leap out of bed first thing in the morning – don’t be one of them’

By Staff 6 Min Read

A study of a million people in six countries showed that less than seven hours a night was linked to 7% higher blood pressure, while under five hours saw an 11% increased risk, says Sara Wallis

You know those people who leap out of bed first thing in the morning, desperate to “make the most of the day”? I am not one of those people.

Bed is my favourite place and – if minor issues like work and kids would allow it – I would sleep late every single day. Or at least until I needed a snack. Now I discover that scientists are on board. Well, perhaps not with the lazy part, but experts say we need more than seven hours of sleep.

Anything less could raise your blood pressure, according to new research. And no one wants that. The study of a million people in six countries showed that less than seven hours a night was linked to 7% higher blood pressure, while under five hours saw an 11% increased risk. It said sleep patterns are key and also appeared to show that women are at a greater risk than men.

As blood pressure is linked to heart disease and stroke, it seems that seven to eight hours is optimum – the Goldilocks of “just right” sleeping habits. Not too much, not too little. With news also out this week that alcohol, Type 2 diabetes and air pollution are big risk factors for developing dementia, the study is a reminder that the cruel condition is also linked to sleep trouble. So a lack of shut-eye really can impact your heart, your brain and definitely your mood.

You don’t think about sleep that much in your youth. You can have a late night, grab four hours and carry on as usual. Years later though, and sleep becomes the holy grail, gold dust, the hallowed goal that we are all striving for. No plans, early night? Yes please!

If you’ve had kids, the early days of sleep deprivation can make you feel brain-addled, with three consecutive hours considered a miracle. Power naps – once something you thought only the elderly did during daytime TV – are now a skill to be applauded. Famous (and quite clever) nappers like Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Albert Einstein would have agreed.

Whether it’s a civilised siesta (may I recommend hiding in the car or the loo) or just falling asleep at your desk, dribbling onto your computer, it’s all good for your blood pressure. Sleeping is healing and restorative but we’re not all good at it, turning to tricks like low lights, soothing music and sleep apps.

Many people’s lives and work patterns don’t actually allow for a lot of sleep, but exhaustion is really bad for our health. If this all means lie-ins are finally doctor-approved, I’m off for a snooze

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