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Lack of Sleep Hurts Women's Hearts Most
Date:3/21/2008

Creates more stress, biomarkers for diabetes, heart disease than in males

FRIDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Women suffer more damage to their cardiovascular health from poor sleep than men do, and researchers at Duke University Medical Center believe they've determined why.

They found that poor sleep is associated with greater psychological distress and higher levels of biomarkers associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also found that these associations are stronger in women than in men.

"This is the first empirical evidence that supports what we have observed about the role of gender and its effects upon sleep and health," study author Edward Suarez, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said in a prepared statement.

"The study suggests that poor sleep -- measured by the total amount of sleep, the degree of awakening during the night, and most importantly, how long it takes to get to sleep -- may have more serious health consequences for women than for men," he said.

The study was published online in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Even though women are twice as likely as men to report sleep problems, most sleep studies in the past have focused on men, said Suarez, who added that this pattern has been slowly changing in recent years.

This new study included 210 healthy middle-aged women and men without any history of diagnosed sleep disorders. None of them smoked or took any medications on a daily basis. The participants filled out a standard sleep quality questionnaire and were assessed for levels of depression, anger, hostility and perceived social support. Blood samples from the participants were analyzed for levels of biomarkers associated with increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

About 40 percent of the participants were classified as poor sleepers, meaning they h
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