Poor sleep appears to contribute to the progression of heart disease in women by raising their inflammation levels, but this effect was not seen in men, researchers say.

“Inflammation is a well-known predictor of cardiovascular health,” lead author Aric Prather, a clinical health psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a university news release.

“Now we have evidence that poor sleep appears to play a bigger role than we had previously thought in driving long-term increases in inflammation levels and may contribute to the negative consequences often associated with poor sleep,” Prather added.

Previous research has shown that sleeping fewer than six hours per night may raise the risk of chronic health problems, including heart disease, and is associated with higher levels of inflammation.

Read more about the study here

Photo by Jon Åslund

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