International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 314–320 | Cite as

Blood Pressure Increases During a Simulated Night Shift in Persons at Risk for Hypertension

  • James A. McCubbin
  • June J. Pilcher
  • D. DeWayne Moore



Shift work with sleep disruption is a systemic stressor that may possibly be associated with blood pressure dysregulation and hypertension.


We hypothesize that rotation to a simulated night shift with sleep deprivation will produce blood pressure elevations in persons at risk for development of hypertension.


We examined the effects of a simulated night shift on resting blood pressure in 51 diurnal young adults without current hypertension. Resting blood pressure was monitored throughout a 24-h period of total sleep deprivation with sustained cognitive work. Twelve participants (23.5%) reported one or more parents with a diagnosis of hypertension. Ten participants were classified as prehypertensive by JNC-7 criteria. Only two prehypertensive subjects reported parental hypertension.


Results indicate that, as the night shift progressed, participants with a positive family history of hypertension showed significantly higher resting diastolic blood pressure than those with a negative family history of hypertension (p = 0.007). Prehypertensive participants showed elevated blood pressure throughout the study.


These data suggest that rotation to a simulated night shift with sleep deprivation may contribute to blood pressure dysregulation in persons with a positive family history of hypertension.


Cardiovascular disease Sympathetic nervous system Family history of hypertension Prehypertension Shift work Sleep deprivation 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from the Center for Advanced Study of Language, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA. We also thank our research staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students at Clemson University for their assistance in data gathering for the study and data management. These individuals include Jesse Allen, J. Adam Beeco, Tracy Lindquist, Bridget McConnell, Eric McKibben, Joe Mulvihill, Kristina O’Connell, Tyler Pierce, Ginger Pottorff, Susan Redmond, Hilary Schoon, Colin Shive, Sarah Spainhour, Rebekkah Wills, Cassandra Wright, and Mark Zajack.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. McCubbin
    • 1
  • June J. Pilcher
    • 1
  • D. DeWayne Moore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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