Does it seem like your spouse handles lack of sleep differently than you? If so, you’re probably not imagining things.
Researchers from Duke University found that poor sleep is associated with greater psychological distress and higher levels of biomarkers associated with elevated risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They also found that these associations are significantly stronger in women than in men.
Scientists studied 210 apparently healthy, middle-aged men and women without any history of sleep disorders. None smoked or took any medications on a daily basis and investigators excluded any women who were on hormone therapy, which has been shown in some studies to alter sleep patterns in some women.
Using a standardized sleep quality questionnaire, participants rated various dimensions of their sleep during the previous month. Additional measures assessed the extent of any depression, anger, hostility and perceived social support from friends and family.
Blood samples taken from the volunteers were measured for levels of biomarkers associated with increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. The researchers found that about 40 percent of the men and the women were classified as poor sleepers. But, while their sleep quality ratings were similar, men and women had dramatically different risk profiles.
“We found that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress, and greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger. In contrast, these feelings were not associated with the same degree of sleep disruption in men,” says Edward Suarez, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke and the lead author of the study.
The study appears in the online version of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.