Link found between divorce, sleep and blood pressure increase

Investigators at the University of Arizona say that people who have gone through divorce and have long-term sleep problems afterward are at an increased risk for rise in blood pressure. Researchers are quick to point out that previous studies have already established a link between divorce and major health problems, sometimes even death. However, this new investigation reveals that problems sleeping as a result of the divorce may be the primary cause of those issues.

The Arizona researchers looked at 138 people who had been separated for divorce for at roughly 16 weeks. They asked their subjects to come in to the lab and get their blood pressure checked three times a week over a period of 7.5 months.

At first, researchers didn't see a link between the sleep problems and the rise in blood pressure. Over time, however, they realized that the longer a divorced person's sleep problems persisted, it became more likely that their blood pressure would also rise. So in a nutshell, the study which was recently printed in the journal Health Psychology says that a person having sleep problems 10 weeks or more after their separation seems to indicate a cumulative bad effect.

The researchers are quick to point out that they still are not willing to admit a direct cause-and-effect relationship between divorce, sleep problems and high blood pressure. They say the problems sleeping may not be solely associated with the divorce. Some subjects may have simply been depressed with the struggle of trying to get their lives going once more.

Divorce can be an emotionally harrowing experience even under ordinary conditions. People going through divorce are being forced to make life-altering decisions that carry long-term ramifications. For example, there may be issues regarding child custody, child support payments, parenting time and visitation rights -- just to name a few related to spouses with children.

Other couples may be wrestling with prenuptial agreements, alimony or spousal support payments. The point is that people going through divorce can always benefit from the counsel of a family law professional experienced in all of the intricate details associated with stressful divorce proceedings.

Source:  WATE ABC 6, "Sleepless nights after divorce may be tied to blood pressure rise" Jul. 22, 2014

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