Researchers find that sleep deprivation or excess in women may be associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease

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Solid eight hours is great, more than nine not so fine

Chronic sleep deprivation is common in today’s society. It is reported that a third of Americans sleep six or less hours per day. Previous research has shown that the effects of short-term reduced sleep duration include increased blood pressure, heart rate variability, decreased glucose tolerance and increased cortisol levels. Yet, little is known about how the duration of sleep impacts long-term health outcomes, such as one’s risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. CHD, caused by the narrowing of the coronary arteries and a common catalyst for heart attacks, is greatly influenced by a variety of lifestyle choices, such as exercise, smoking and diet. Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers have now revealed sleep may weigh into that equation, too. Najib Ayas and his research team found that sleeping five hours or less per night was associated with a 30 percent increase in risk of CHD and sleeping six hours per night was associated with an 18 percent greater risk. Women who slept eight hours per night had the lowest recorded rate of CHD. The findings were published in the January 27, 2003 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.