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Lack of Sleep in Women Linked to Heart Disease

lacksleepdisease.jpgAs I toss and turn through long, uncomfortable nights in my eighth month of pregnancy, anything related to sleep and sleep deprivation seems to be catching my attention. This news regarding poor sleep in women was released last Friday:

A Duke University study has shown that women suffer more heart-related health problems which are related to poor sleep than men do.

The study found that poor sleep is associated with psychological distress and markers which are related to type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and that the risk is higher in women. It included 210 healthy middle-aged women and men without any history of diagnosed sleep disorders. None of them smoked or took any daily medications.

The participants filled out sleep questionnaires and gave blood samples which were analyzed for levels of biomarkers which suggest an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

About 40% of those in the study were classified as poor sleepers, either having frequent problems falling asleep or awakening during the night. In women, poor sleep was found to be strongly associated with high levels of stress, feelings of hostility, depression and anger. The same link was not found for men.

Also, women who were poor sleepers were found to have higher levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6; both are bio-chemical markers which are associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

An interesting finding was that it is not so much the overall poor quality of a woman?s sleep which is associated with her increased risk of heart disease. Instead, an inability to fall asleep quickly was shown to have the strongest link to an increased risk of heart disease.

A larger percentage of women vs. men, in general, report suffering from sleep problems. Add this to the fact that most women suffer with sleep trouble at least at some point during their pregnancies, and are most often the ones to awaken to attend to their babies during the night. Women need to be aware of the seemingly ever-growing list of health problems which are related to sleep deprivation. They need to make sleep a priority, even if it means taking time out to rest or take a nap. When a woman is sleep-deprived, she needs to remind herself that things like the dishes and laundry can wait-her health is much more important.


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