Women more at risk from sleep deprivation than men

February 15, 2016

The researchers looked at men and women sleeping less than or equal 5 hours a night to see if their risk of having hypertension was any higher than men and women getting the recommended 7 hours or more of sleep a night. Among other problems increased hypertension does increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Some previous studies have indicated that sleep deprivation is also associated with an increased risk of hypertension. However that research was based on self-reported diagnosis of hypertension, and had no gender-specific analysis.

The University of Warwick led research team looked at data from ???The Whitehall II Cohort??? which studied volunteers from 20 London-based civil service departments. There were a total of 6,592 participants (4,199 men and 1,567 women). The Warwick team defined hypertension as blood pressure equal to or higher than 140/90 mm Hg or if the subject made regular use of antihypertensive medications.

The researchers found that the those women in the study group who slept less than or equal to 5 hours a night were twice as likely to suffer from hypertension than women who slept for the more recommended seven hours or more a night. The researchers found no difference between men sleeping less than 5 hours and those sleeping 7 hours or more.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the University of Warwick's Warwick Medical School led the research he declared that women sleeping les than 5 hours a night should try to get more sleep as:

???Sustained sleep curtailment, ensuing excessive daytime sleepiness, and the higher cardiovascular risk are causes for concern. Emerging evidence also suggests a potential role for sleep deprivation as a predictor or risk factor for conditions like obesity and diabetes.???

A new report about to be published is expected to criticise the lack of progress on tackling increasingly unhealthy lifestyles which have led to Britain's obesity epidemic.

The report apparently highlights poor eating habits, people's increasingly sedentary routines and the growing number of overweight people as areas where more determined action needs to be taken.

There is however little research which shows that a financial incentive, combined with nutritional advice, is enough to persuade mothers from the most deprived areas to change their lifestyle.

Underweight babies, i.e. those who weigh less than 5.5lbs, are not only at greater risk of dying in infancy, but face long-term difficulties such as heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions and impaired cognitive development because their growth has been retarded in the womb by a lack of essential nutrients.

Another problem driving the high number of underweight babies is the fact that Britain also has Europe's highest rate of teenage births, with an average of 26 children born to every 1,000 women aged between 15 and 19.

That is more than four times the rate in Cyprus, Slovenia, Sweden or Denmark and this could also be a factor in infant mortality rates.

There are also plans afoot to adopt a more interventionist approach which will include sending more nurses into deprived communities to support women who need the most NHS help but are most likely not to ask for it.