Women who sleep less than eight hours a night are at a higher risk for heart-related problems than men, according to a recent study by researchers from the University of Warwick and the University College of London.
Short-term sleep deprivation studies have shown that inflammatory markers are elevated in sleep-deprived individuals, suggesting that inflammatory mechanisms may play a role in cardiovascular risk.
The study, published in the July 1 issue of Sleep, found that levels of interleukin-6, a marker related to coronary heart disease, were significantly lower in women who reported sleeping eight hours as compared with seven hours.
A second marker, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, Chs-CRPJ, is predictive of future cardiovascular morbidity. Levels of hs-CRP were significantly higher in women who reported sleeping five hours or less.
This is the first large-scale study describing the association between measures of inflammation and sleep duration in men and women. The study involved 4,600 people, 73 percent male and 27 percent female, between the ages of 35 and 55.
“Further prospective studies are required to ascertain causality, but the results also are consistent with the idea that sleeping seven or eight hours per night appears to be optimal for health,” says Warwick professor Michelle Miller, lead author of the study.