Persistent Sleep Problems Following Divorce Lead To High Blood Pressure, Study


Sleep deprivation following divorce can lead to dark circles as well as high blood pressure, according to a University of Arkansas study.

Previous studies have highlighted the link between divorce and negative health effects including premature deaths. But, only a few of them have determined the existence of the connection.

Arkansas researchers believe that divorce-related sleep troubles are partly to blame.

Researchers said that sleep problems are a normal occurrence in the first few months of separation. But, sustained period of sleep problems can signal a different kind of message.

"It may mean that people are potentially becoming depressed, that they're struggling with getting their life going again, and it is these people that are particularly susceptible to health problems," said associate professor of psychology David Sbarra, who co-authored the paper said in a statement.

For the study, researchers surveyed 138 participants who had a physical separation or divorced their partner about 16 weeks before the start of the study.

Participants were asked about their sleep quality during three lab visits over a seven-and-a-half-month period. Researchers also measured participants' blood pressure during the visits.

Researchers did not observe a direct relationship between participant's sleep complaints and blood pressure during their first lab visits. However, they did notice rising systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels in later visits due to past sleep problems.

"We saw changes in resting blood pressure were associated with sleep problems three months earlier. Earlier sleep problems predicted increases in resting blood pressure over time," Sbarra said.

Researchers also found that if participant's sleep problems persisted long (after 10 or more weeks) after their separation, the more likely they are to experience adverse effect on their blood pressure.

The finding is published in the journal Health Psychology. 

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