Divorce results in more than just losing sleep

Divorce and sleep

According to a new study released by the University of Arizona while it’s normal for people to experience trouble sleeping after a divorce, however if sleep problems last too long, they can lead to potentially harmful increases in blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes can damage the kidneys and eyes and is increasingly being linked to Dementia.

The research, which will shortly be reported in the Journal of Health Psychology, suggests that poor sleep quality might be one of the reasons divorce is linked to negative health effects.

The 138 participants were asked to report on their quality of sleep during three lab visits over a seven-and-a-half-month period, using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, which takes into consideration sleep issues ranging from tossing and turning to snoring to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Participants’ blood pressure was also measured at each of the three lab visits. Multilevel analyses revealed that although sleep complaints were not associated with concurrent BP, sleep complaints predicted significant increases in both systolic and diastolic BP at the subsequent laboratory visit. In addition, time since the separation from an ex-partner moderated the association between sleep complaints at baseline and resting systolic blood pressure (SBP) 3 months later. People who reported high sleep complaints 10 weeks or more after their separation demonstrated greater increases in SBP.

The researchers cautioned that the longer peoples’ sleep problems persisted after their separation, the more likely those problems were to have an adverse effect on blood pressure and for people who have high blood pressure to begin with, the increase is not to be taken lightly.

Source: University of Arizona. “Losing sleep over your divorce? Your blood pressure could suffer.” ScienceDaily, 17 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717180536.htm>.