Sleeplessness Damages Women’s Hearts

It’s true, there is nothing like a good night’s sleep. Increasing evidence continues to demonstrate that good sleep is critical to good health. A team of researchers at the Duke University Medical Center concluded a study that reveals women suffer more damage to their cardiovascular health from poor sleep – and struggling to fall asleep – than do men.

The study was published in the online journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. It suggests that poor sleep may have more serious health consequences for women than for men, according to researcher Edward Suarez. Poor sleep was judged by the total amount of sleep, the degree of awakening during the night, and most importantly, how long it took to get to sleep.

The study included 210 healthy, middle-aged men and women who had no history of diagnosed sleep disorders. Blood samples from the participants were analyzed for levels of biomarkers associated with increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Forty percent of the participants were classified as poor sleepers. Suarez said, “they had frequent problems falling asleep or awoke frequently during the night.” The men and women had similar sleep quality ratings, but their biomarkers were dramatically different, according to Suarez. The women who were found to be poor sleepers had higher levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 (inflammation biomarkers associated with increased risk of heart disease) and higher levels of insulin.

Suarez said the study also found that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of stress, greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger, but perhaps the most unexpected finding was that for women, overall poor sleep quality didn’t pose the greatest risk.

The greater risk was posed by the length of time it takes a person to fall asleep; that takes the highest toll. Women who reported taking a half hour or more to fall asleep showed the worst risk profile.

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One Response to “Sleeplessness Damages Women’s Hearts”

  1. [...] Suarez said the study also found that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of stress, greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger, but perhaps the most unexpected finding was that for women, overall poor sleep quality didn’t pose the greatest risk. Read more… [...]