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Women's Health

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Poor Sleep Harsher on Women

Sleep Problems Linked to More Physical, Emotional Woes in Women Than in Men, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 11, 2008 -- Sleep problems aren't good for anyone, but they may be rougher on women's bodies and emotions, according to a new study on sleep and health.

"Good sleep is related to good health," researcher Edward Suarez, PhD, says in a news release.

"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," says Suarez, an associate professor at Duke University's department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Suarez studied sleep surveys and blood samples from 115 men and 95 women.

All participants were healthy. But that didn't mean they slept soundly every night.

Among women, those with worse sleep had more inflammation, anger, hostility, and depression. It was also tied to higher BMI ( body mass index) and less sensitivity to insulin.

In men, poor sleep wasn't linked to most of those traits. Men's testosterone levels may protect them, to some extent, Suarez suggests.

The study, published online in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, doesn't show which came first -- poor sleep or inflammation, emotional distress, and insulin resistance in women.

(What keeps you up at night? How do you get better sleep? Share with others on WebMD's Women's Health: Friends Talking message board.)

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