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Lack of sleep more risky for women

2nd July 2009

New research says that a lack of sleep raises a woman’s risk of heart disease more than it does for men.

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The study by University College London and the University of Warwick, which appears in the journal Sleep, showed that the inflammatory markers that are indicators of heart disease vary significantly in women through sleep duration but not so much in men.

The team focused on the molecule interleukin-6 (IL-6) which is known to trigger inflammation. It was much lower in women who slept for eight hours a night than those who slept for seven.

Another molecule, the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which is linked to heart problems was significantly higher in women who slept for five hours or less.

Researcher Dr Michelle Miller said the study – using data from more than 4,600 civil servants from London aged 35 to 55 (of which almost three quarters were men) - added to evidence that link sleep duration and heart health.

Previous research has suggested people who sleep less than five hours a night have an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Dr Miller said: "The results also are consistent with the idea that sleeping seven or eight hours per night appears to be optimal for health."

However, she acknowledged more work was needed on how sleep levels have a greater effect on women and that hormone levels may be a key factor.

The British Heart Foundation said the sleep was important, not just for heart health but for overall wellbeing.

 

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