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実は怖い不眠症。睡眠不足は高血圧や心筋梗塞になるって本当?

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今や先進国は全てこの現代病に悩まされているといってもいいかも知れません。日本人の5人に1人が睡眠障害を抱えているというデータもあります。どうやら現代人は「眠りヘタ」になっているようですね。不眠症の原因は様々ですが、「眠れない」という単純な事実が、実は重篤な病気の原因になる事が分かっています。特に不眠症により高血圧になると、病気がより深刻になります。今回は不眠症と高血圧によって起こる、さまざまな要因を考えてみましょう。

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不眠症になる原因とは

夜

人間は誰でも、昼間は活動して夜になると眠くなる、という習性があります。これは体内で「眠り」を司るメラトニンという分泌が、体内時計にあわせて働くためだと考えられています。不眠症の原因は、まずこのメラトニンの分泌が減少してしまう為に昼夜の区別がつかず眠れなくなる事が原因です。メラトニンが減少する理由として下記の5つが考えられます。

適応性不眠

ストレスからくる睡眠障害で、不眠の一番多い原因です。人間関係、仕事の悩み等、ストレスが解消されたり、ストレスに適応すると治ります。

子供の不眠

親が子どもを規則正しく寝かせないことで起こる睡眠障害です。決まった時間に子どもを寝かせると正常な睡眠をとれるようになりますが、就寝時刻がまちまちでは寝付きも悪く、夜に何度も目が覚めるようになってしまいます。

薬物、飲酒による不眠

薬物治療の副作用やカフェインの摂取、飲酒などで起こる睡眠障害です。使用中だけでなく使用を止めた時にも発生する可能性があります。

健康障害による不眠

他の病気による痛みなどが理由で、眠るのが困難になったり、睡眠が浅くなったりします。完治すれば収まります。  

精神障害による不眠

精神衛生の悪化の兆候として現れる睡眠障害。不眠のレベルがそのまま精神状態に直結して妄想や幻覚が引き起こされたりします。

高血圧の原因

高血圧とは、血圧が正常範囲を超えて高く維持されている状態をいいます。大体140以上の方は高血圧と判断されます。血圧は1日中同じではなく、時間によって変化しています。1日という長さで血圧の変化をみると、起床前からだんだん上がり始め、昼間の動いている時間帯で最も高くなり、夕方から夜に活動しなくなると下がり、睡眠中はさらに低くなるというのが基本的な動きです。

睡眠は翌日の血圧に大きな影響を及ぼします。就寝中、交感神経は活動を休め、血圧は低くなるように調節されています。ところが夜に眠れないと、交感神経が活動をやめないために夜の血圧が下がらないだけでなく、翌日の血圧まで高くなってしまうのです。

また、眠れないというストレスが血圧に悪影響を与えることもあります。 25~74歳の血圧が正常な人を約10年間、追跡調査すると、4800人中647人が高血圧を発症しました。睡眠時間と高血圧の関係では、32~59歳で平均睡眠時間が5時間以下の人が、高血圧になりやすいことが分かりました。つまり、若い人や高齢者は睡眠時間が短くても高血圧にはなりにくいのですが、働き盛りの中高年では睡眠不足だと高血圧になりやすい、ということです。

そして睡眠時間が5時間以下の女性は、7時間の人に比べて高血圧である割合が1.7倍という報告もあります。原因は分かりませんが睡眠時間が短いと高血圧になるのは男性より女性が多いようです。 高血圧の人は、心血管疾患(心筋梗塞や脳卒中)のリスクが高いことが知られていますが、他にも睡眠中に呼吸が止まる「睡眠時無呼吸症候群」と高血圧が関係ある事も分かってきました。睡眠中に呼吸が止まると、血液中の酸素が減って二酸化炭素が増えたり、睡眠中に何回も目覚めるたりすることが原因で血圧が下がりにくくなってしまうのです。

効果的な治療法とは

まず生活習慣を見直す必要があります。寝る前の飲酒や喫煙はそれだけで心臓に負担がかかります。なるべく控えて早めに眠るようにしましょう。また、ストレスが続くと塩分が多い食品を好んで食べるようになります。塩分は排出する時に腎臓に負担がかかります。そして多量の塩分は高血圧の原因にもなります。なるべくうす味を心がけ、暴飲暴食に気をつけましょう。

不眠症・睡眠障害 みるみるよくなる100のコツ
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まとめ

いかがですか。不眠の原因はストレス、薬物やカフェインや飲酒、他の病気や精神疾患等様々ですが、最近は投薬治療でかなり効果が確認されています。何日も眠れない場合は早めに病院で診察を受けて下さい。 大人の不眠はまずストレスをなくす事が治療の近道です。規則正しい生活と軽い運動を心がけて、塩分をとりすぎない食事を習慣にして下さい。アルコールと喫煙は中高年の方には生活習慣病を引き起こす原因にもなります。なるべく控えてストレスを減らす努力をしましょう。

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