Lack of Sleep Could Be More Dangerous for Women

Research by the University of Warwick and University College London has found that levels of inflammatory markers vary significantly with sleep duration in women, but not men.

The study found levels of Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker related to coronary heart disease, were significantly lower in women who reported sleeping eight hours as compared with 7 hours.

A second marker, High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), is predictive of future cardiovascular morbidity. Levels of hs-CRP were significantly higher in women who reported sleeping five hours or less.

Associate Professor of Biochemical Medicine at Warwick Medical School Michelle Miller said 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 the cardiovascular risk associated with sleep deprivation.

Miller leaded the study which involved more than 4,600 white participants from the University College London-based Whitehall II cohort study; 73% were men. Participants between the ages of 35 and 55 years were recruited between 1985 and 1988 from 20 London-based civil service departments. Data for this study is from the phase 3 follow-up (1991-1993). Sleep duration was determined by subjective questionnaires, and general health was assessed during a screening examination.

"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", said Miller.; Source: University of Warwick