Divorce can lead to high blood pressure
In the initial few months after a separation, sleep problems are probably pretty normal and this is an adjustment process that people can typically cope with well.
"But sleep problems that persist for an extended period may mean that you are potentially becoming depressed, leaving you susceptible to health problems," said David Sbarra, an associate professor of psychology at University of Arizona, US.The study looked at 138 people who had divorced their partner about 16 weeks before the start of the study.
Participants were asked to report on their quality of sleep and their blood pressure was also measured.
"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 noted.
In addition, researchers found that the longer sleep problems in people persisted after their separation, the more likely those problems were to have an adverse effect on the blood pressure.
According to Kendra Krietsh, Sbarra's former student and now pursuing her doctorate in clinical psychology at University of Florida, US, people who have persistent difficulties sleeping after a divorce should find new ways to relax at bedtime.
The study is to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Health Psychology.