James E. Gangwisch, Ph.D., lead author and post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health reported that sleep was an essential few hours that allowed the heart to slow down its activities and the blood pressure to be lowered. Therefore sleep durations of five hours or less caused an average increase in the 24-hour blood pressure as well as heart rate
Results of the study indicted that 24 percent of middle aged people who regularly slept for five or even less hours a night developed hypertension compared to 12 percent of their counterparts who slept for seven to eight hours a night.
The former group was also found to exercise less and have higher BMI. In addition they were also more likely to suffer from diabetes and depression.
Earlier studies had also linked sleep deprivation to increased appetite and compromised insulin sensitivity. However as the study was based on observational data, more research was necessary to prove the association of short sleep duration with high blood pressure.
Still, the main message of the study is that "A good night's sleep is crucial for sound health.