High blood pressure (HBP) has a complicated relationship with insomnia, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, there are treatment options to help.

It’s well established that sleep is vital for more reasons than feeling rested the next day or avoiding dark circles under your eyes. Yes, adequate sleep does help energy and concentration. But getting a good night’s rest also protects against other health issues, such as HBP, weight gain, and depression.

When you sleep, your body hits reset. Chemicals and hormones balance out, and your blood pressure drops. When you don’t sleep enough, your body doesn’t get the fresh start it needs. The result? Worsening issues, such as inflammation, elevated stress hormones, and lower immune function.

The connection may go the other way, too: it’s possible that having HBP could cause insomnia. Almost half of all U.S. adults have hypertension, so this relationship may be of interest if you find it difficult to get good sleep.

Here, we explore if your heart health could cause insomnia. Plus, we look at what sleep aids might be helpful if you do have problems falling or staying asleep.

Most sleep experts and healthcare professionals recommend adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Less than that can be bad for your overall health. Regularly getting too little sleep can lead to issues such as weight gain, HBP, and depression.

It’s also possible that HBP may make sleep more difficult. HBP occurs when the force of blood pumping through your veins is high. This puts stress on your blood vessels and can cause symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. All these symptoms can make sleep difficult.

Some medications for HBP can also interfere with natural sleep cycles. Read more on that below.

Can insomnia raise your blood pressure?

Yes, insomnia can raise your blood pressure. While you’re sleeping, the body naturally lowers your blood pressure, and it regulates the hormones that control your blood pressure, heart rate, and other functions. But when you don’t have enough sleep, these important functions can’t happen or are cut short.

Over time, the elevated hormones can affect your blood pressure and how your heart pumps. This can lead to HBP and related issues, such as heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.

In fact, adults who sleep less than 7 hours are more likely to say they have health issues, including obesity, asthma, and depression. These issues increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Taking HBP medication is often necessary for managing the condition and avoiding complications such as heart attack and stroke. However, a type of HBP medication called beta-blockers may interfere with your sleep.

These medications commonly cause sleep disturbances such as insomnia and nightmares. It’s believed the drugs interact with your body’s natural sleep-inducing hormones. As a result, falling and staying asleep may be harder.

This isn’t a reason to avoid treating your blood pressure. Not all HBP medications have this side effect. You can work with a doctor to find one that lowers your blood pressure and doesn’t interfere with sleep.

Try to implement one or more of these lifestyle changes that may help you reset your sleep cycle and get more rest:

  • Don’t try to catch up on lost sleep: You may be tempted to use the weekend to make up for lousy sleep during the week, but you should avoid that. Sleeping too much can actually raise your risk of conditions such as high blood sugar and weight gain.
  • Create a healthy sleep schedule: Long nights and early mornings happen from time to time. But if you can set up a regular schedule for going to bed and waking up, that might help you get better sleep and train your body to know when to expect rest.
  • Consider sleeping medication — in small quantities: Sleeping pills may be able to temporarily help you get more sleep. But they shouldn’t be used for more than a few days. One study found that regular use of sleeping medications actually increased the chances a person would need blood pressure medications over time.
    • Make sure to discuss any use of sleep medications with a doctor.
  • Get physical: Exercise is a double winner for HBP and insomnia. It can lower your blood pressure, and physical activity may make you more tired by evening. Just avoid doing it within a few hours of your scheduled bedtime.
  • Try relaxation techniques: Peacefully meditating or working through new poses at yoga can help you reduce your blood pressure and get better sleep. Consider yoga, tai chi, and even breathing techniques.

Managing your HBP

HBP can lead to serious side effects if it’s not treated. This includes an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and, yes, insomnia.

If your blood pressure is high or not well managed with your current treatment plan, talk with a doctor about other options.

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Sleep aids may be helpful for managing sleep disorders such as insomnia. However, blood pressure medications can actually interfere with sleep and may make insomnia worse. That’s why it’s important you work with a doctor to find a medication that causes limited side effects and helps you get more sleep.

Some sleep medications for people with HBP include:

  • Supplements: Melatonin is a supplement that signals your brain when it’s time to go to sleep and time to wake up. If you don’t have enough of this hormone, taking a melatonin supplement might help. Valerian root is a supplement that can have a calming effect on the body and may encourage sleep, too.
    • These medications aren’t for everyone because of potential interactions with other medications. Before you begin taking any, consult with a healthcare professional.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aides: Some OTC sleep aids can help you get adequate sleep. These drugs include antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine (Unisom). However, they can also interact with blood pressure medication and shouldn’t be taken without consulting a doctor or pharmacist.
  • Prescription medications: Some prescription drugs can work to correct the brain’s hormone receptors and make sleep easier to achieve. This class of sedative-hypnotics includes eszopiclone (Lunesta) and flurazepam (Dalmane).

Can I take melatonin with high blood pressure?

Maybe. Melatonin can interfere with some medications and drugs that are used to treat certain conditions, including HBP. For that reason, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or healthcare professional before you try this OTC sleep product.

If you can’t take melatonin, other sleep medications might still be able to help.

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Sleep is vital to your health. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can develop health issues such as HBP, weight gain, and diabetes. But it’s also possible that having HBP can make getting restful sleep difficult.

If you have HBP and think you may have insomnia as a result, talk with your doctor. There are many options for treating insomnia, some of which can be done at home.

Medications can treat both HBP and sleep disorders. However, it’s important to use these medications properly. Long-term use of sleep aids might actually increase your blood pressure and the need for medications to treat it.