Objective: A nighttime dip in blood pressure is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We examined whether personality traits predict nighttime dipping blood pressure.
Methods: A community-based sample of 2848 adults from Sardinia (Italy) completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory and 7 years later were examined with 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. The primary analyses examined the associations of personality traits with continuous and categorical measures of mean arterial, systolic, and diastolic blood pressure nighttime dipping.
Results: Agreeableness and conscientiousness were associated with more nocturnal blood pressure dipping (β = .05 [p = .025] and β = .07 [p < .001], respectively) and lower systolic blood pressure at night (β = −.05 [p = .018] and β = −.03 [p = .072], respectively). Nondippers were particularly more impulsive (p = .009), less trusting (p = .004), and less self-disciplined (p = .001), but there was no significant association between nocturnal dipping blood pressure and trait anxiety (p = .78) or depression (p = .59). The associations were stronger when comparing extreme dippers (nighttime drop ≥20%) to reverse dippers (nighttime increase in blood pressure). Indeed, scoring 1 standard deviation higher on conscientiousness was associated with approximately 40% reduced risk of reverse dipping (odds ratio = 1.43, confidence interval = 1.08–1.91).
Conclusions: We found evidence that reduced nighttime blood pressure dipping is associated with antagonism and impulsivity-related traits but not with measures of emotional vulnerability. The strongest associations were found with conscientiousness, a trait that may have a broad impact on cardiovascular health.