If you strain yourself mentally or physically while already exhausted, you may be doing harm. That is the conclusion of a new study out of the University of Alabama. Researchers found that people who were fatigued and given memory tests to complete had significantly higher blood pressure than people who were fresh and rested.
High blood pressure, a.k.a. hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart problems. Here is what happens when a tired person attempts a job they perceive as doable. Effort is increased because of their tired state, and this boosts blood pressure. Levels stay boosted until the job is done… or the person finally gives up.
The result bears some importance for those already at risk of cardiovascular issues. Or even those with high blood pressure or some form of heart disease. Researchers said that people who have exaggerated responses from their heart — like working hard when fatigued — are at greater risk than people who do not have such responses. Chronic fatigue can pose a risk to the heart and blood pressure levels when linked with work.
The study involved 80 volunteers, who did a memorization test. Those who could memorize random three-letter patterns within two minutes could win a prize. They could win a prize for memorizing two or six patterns. Those with moderate fatigue levels had higher blood pressure while trying to memorize two. That is because the volunteers perceived success as possible and worthwhile. It was only two patterns. There was a prize.
So their heart went into overdrive, gearing up for success in the task. But their lingering exhaustion spiked blood pressure. However, they had lower blood pressure when attempting the six-pattern memory test. That is likely because they viewed it as too hard, so they didn’t put in the effort.
In any case, people with high blood pressure or heart problems should do one thing while exhausted: rest up.