Michigan Tech Sleep Lab studies connection between sleep deprivation, blood pressure

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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - One in three adults in the U.S. are exposed to sleep deprivation, and from a clinical perspective 90 percent of adolescents are sleep deprived.

With statistics this high, it’s even keeping Michigan Tech's Sleep Research Lab, up at night.

"I don’t think it’s impressive to say 'I only slept for three hours' because now we are seeing the effects it can have physically on your heart and cardiovascular system," said Anne Tikkanen, an RN and registered sleep technician.

Right now, the recently opened Michigan Tech Sleep Research Laboratory is looking how evening alcohol consumption, and in particular binge drinking, is impacting overnight blood pressures and the morning after risks.

"You can imagine an individual that might have gone out drinking at night, not slept very well, got up, it's cold outside and they start shoveling and they might have a heart attack," said Jason Carter, the associate vice president for research.

Participants in the study go through several measurements, blood pressure tests, questioners and psychomotor evaluations before sleeping for a full eight hours.

This study is not only unique experience for participants, but also for graduate students.

"The fact that I got the opportunity to work with community members on stuff that’s relevant to them, so sleep is incredibly relevant, and being able to be involved directly with them as a master's student is huge," said student Hannah Cunningham.

The alcohol study is about a year and a half into a five-year project.

The lab is also in the middle of a sleep deprivation and cardiovascular study that is resulting in surprising results for women.

"Women are tending to have a higher risk for high blood pressure as a result of sleep deprivation compared to men," said Carter.

The lab is always looking for participants for their studies for how to get involved contact Anne Tikkanen at altikkan@mtu.edu or call 906-487-2711.

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