Going to bed an hour earlier than usual could help to ward off high blood pressure, according to a new study.

Researchers found people who were showing the early signs of high blood pressure were able to restore readings to healthy levels in just six weeks if they had an extra hour in bed every night.

The study, carried out at Harvard Medical School in Boston, America, looked at men and women who regularly slept for only seven hours or less a night and were beginning to have borderline high blood pressure readings.

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects one in five adults in the UK and is thought to be responsible for half of all heart attacks and strokes.

But despite an array of different drugs available on the NHS, it's estimated more than half of all patients have "poorly controlled" blood pressure, which means they still have readings in the danger zone above 140mmHg/90mmHg, a measure of the amount of force inside arteries when the heart is forcing blood through them and the force when it relaxes.

The latest study is one of the first to prove that blood pressure can be brought under control by simply increasing sleep.