Best Sleep Aid for Adults with High Blood Pressure

Connection Between Sleep and High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common health issue that affects nearly half of all adults in the United States.

One of the most important lifestyle factors that impacts blood pressure is sleep. Not getting enough sleep or having poor quality sleep can cause blood pressure to rise.

When we sleep, our body has the chance to rest and recover. During the deeper stages of sleep, our heart rate and blood pressure naturally lower. However, for those with high blood pressure, sleep disturbances can prevent this natural dip in blood pressure from occurring.

The lack of adequate, high quality sleep causes stress hormones to be released, which narrows blood vessels and increases blood pressure.

Furthermore, not sleeping enough activates your sympathetic nervous system, your body’s built-in “fight or flight” response. This floods the body with adrenaline and cortisol, both of which increase heart rate and constrict blood vessels.

Over time, poor and inadequate sleep puts strain on the heart and damages blood vessels, making high blood pressure even worse. Getting on track with healthy sleep hygiene is essential for managing hypertension. For some, an over-the-counter sleep aid may help improve sleep quality.

Choosing the Safest Sleep Aids with Hypertension

If you have high blood pressure and struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, using an OTC sleep aid could help. However, it’s crucial to choose options that don’t interfere with blood pressure.

Many popular sleep aids also act as muscle relaxants. While they may help induce sleep, they can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels in those with hypertension.

The three main over-the-counter sleep aid ingredients to avoid with high blood pressure are:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Nytol, Sominex)
  • Doxylamine (Unisom)
  • Valerian

Instead, safer options for sleep aids include:

Melatonin – Melatonin is the body’s natural sleep hormone. Supplemental melatonin helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync. It causes drowsiness to help you fall asleep without dropping blood pressure. Start with a low dose around 1-3 mg.

Magnesium – Magnesium deficiency is linked to poor sleep quality. Supplementing magnesium glycinate or magnesium lactate before bed promotes relaxation needed for sleep. It also supports healthy blood pressure levels. Those with hypertension are often deficient and can benefit from 200-400 mg elemental magnesium before bed.

L-Theanine – L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. It produces calming alpha waves in the brain that induce relaxation. When combined with magnesium, L-theanine significantly improves sleep quality without negative side effects. Take 100-200mg 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

man taking sleeping pills

Creating an Ideal Sleep Environment

Along with lifestyle measures like maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, getting blood pressure under control requires a consistent sleep schedule. Here are some additional tips for creating an environment conducive to high-quality sleep:

  • Keep bedroom dark, cool (60-75°F), and quiet
  • Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Don’t watch TV or use electronics before bed
  • Avoid large meals close to bedtime
  • Reduce fluid intake close to bedtime
  • Try relaxation techniques like light yoga, meditation or reading before bed
  • Take a warm bath 1-2 hours before bedtime

Natural Sleep Remedies to Try

Along with the OTC sleep aids mentioned already, there are additional natural options to help improve sleep quality for those with hypertension. These remedies are generally safe to try under medical supervision.

1. CBD Oil

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, pure CBD products do not cause impairment or alter blood pressure. Instead, CBD regulates the body’s endocannabinoid system, which promotes balance in processes like sleep, pain, immune function and stress response.

Through its interaction with receptors throughout the body, CBD has demonstrated sedative effects in research.

Most notably, small doses of CBD before bedtime appear to decrease the time required to fall asleep. It also extends total sleep duration to make it easier to stay asleep. Those with high blood pressure struggling with sleep concerns may benefit from trying CBD.

Start with a low dose around 15-30mg taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime. CBD is available in oil tinctures, edibles like gummies and capsules, as well as topical creams. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking.

2. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs used for its calming, anti-anxiety benefits. Modern research confirms chamomile has mild sedative properties that induce sleepiness, making it a soothing option before bed.

The flavonoids present in chamomile bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain responsible for initiating sleep. Drinking a warm cup of caffeine-free chamomile tea an hour before bedtime can help you naturally drift off to sleep without impacting blood pressure like pharmaceutical sleep aids.

If teas aren’t your preference, chamomile is also available as a sleep aid ingredient in capsules, gummies, tinctures and gentle bath soaks. Start with the lowest therapeutic dose recommended on the package.

Chamomile Tea

3. Valerian Essential Oil

The valerian plant has been used in herbal medicine for centuries to calm the nervous system and promote deep, restorive sleep. Studies demonstrate valerian increases concentrations of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that regulates nervous system activity.

Although oral valerian supplements can dangerously interact with high blood pressure, valerian essential oil is likely safe. Inhaling soothing, relaxing oils through aromatherapy helps prepare both mind and body for sleep. Add a few drops of oil to bathwater or diffuse in your bedroom at bedtime.

4. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil may also help induce sleepiness before bed through aromatic pathways. Human trials confirm lavender aromatherapy improves overall sleep quality, including length of sleep and time required to fall asleep. It also enhances slow-wave deep sleep stages crucial for healing and regulating blood pressure levels.

Use lavender oil similarly to valerian oil – in bathwater or diffused in bedroom air at bedtime. You can also apply diluted oil directly on pillowcases and sheets.

Combining lavender with chamomile tea before bed offers relaxation through two different mechanisms to promote better sleep.

5. Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice contains high levels of melatonin compared to other foods. In one study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2018, participants drank tart cherry juice concentrate twice a day. After two weeks, they experienced longer sleep duration and better sleep efficiency with no negative side effects observed.

Tart cherry juice also contains proanthocyanins and anthocyanins shown to decrease blood pressure in those with hypertension.

Drinking a glass about an hour before bedtime provides a natural source of melatonin to improve sleep and lower blood pressure. Limit intake to 4 oz. twice per day due to high sugar content.

Ask your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements, especially with an existing health condition like hypertension. However, using the right over-the-counter sleep aid under medical guidance may greatly benefit sleep quality and blood pressure control. Making healthy sleep a priority is key for maintaining overall wellness.