Women who suffer from sleepless nights face a much higher risk of death, a new study has suggested.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia and Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands discovered a link between disrupted sleep and an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, particularly in women.
Unconscious wakefulness, or arousal burden, is a normal part of sleep, and common triggers for it include noise, pain, temperature, and limb movements, as well as sleep apnoea.
The team analysed data from three studies, which included more than 8,000 men and women, aged from 64 to 83 years, and participants were followed for an average of six to 11 years.
Researchers found that women’s arousal burden was lower than that of their male counterparts, but those women who had disrupted sleep had a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than women who had a lower arousal burden.
Women whose arousal burden made up more than six per cent of their night's sleep had a 12.8 per cent risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
And, women who had an arousal burden of more than 6.5 per cent were found to have their risk of dying from any cause increased to 31.5 per cent
Men with an arousal burden of more than 8.5 per cent of their night's sleep had a risk of 13.4 per cent of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 33.7 per cent chance of dying from any cause.
Study co-author Professor Dominik Linz said it was still unclear why there was a difference between men and women, and said that losing weight, so the sleep apnoea risk is reduced, could help in the long-term.
“While age cannot be changed, (body mass index) and sleep apnoea can be modified and may represent an interesting target to reduce arousal burdens. Whether this will translate into lower risks of dying from cardiovascular disease warrants further study," Linz stated.