It’s not always easy to get all the sleep you need. According to a growing body of evidence, sleeping seven to eight hours per night seems to be optimal to stay healthy, especially for one’s heart. A new study now suggests that the negative effects of sleep deprivation on heart health are more significant in women than in men.
The new study enrolled over 4600 London civil servants, aged 35 to 55, almost 75 % of them male. The researchers noted that the levels of inflammatory markers (chemicals found in higher proportion in the blood of those who suffer from heart disease) varied significantly with the number of hours of sleep in women, while they did not fluctuate in men.
The levels of interleukin-6 (a molecule known to trigger inflammation) were much lower in women who slept eight-hour nights compared to those who got less than seven hours of sleep, while the levels of C-reactive protein (a molecule associated with heart disease) were significantly higher in women who slept less than five hours a night. Researchers concluded that sleep duration appeared to affect a woman’s heart health.
The link between sleep deprivation and health issues, such as heart problems, difficulty concentrating and suboptimal physical performances, has long been established. Previous studies have also confirmed that sleeping less than five hours per night increases the risk of cardiac death compared to those who sleep eight hours each night. Getting enough sleep also contributes to a healthy immune system and keeps the nervous system in optimal shape.
The amount of sleep you need may be different from that of those around you. But for most, and especially women, getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night appears to be optimal to staying healthy.