10:06 07 July 2009
Women no longer need to feel guilty for sinking under the covers for that extra hour sleep thanks to new research.
Studies have found that having too little sleep could be far more dangerous for females than for males. Women who regularly get less than eight hours a night are at risk of developing heart disease, the report found.
Approximately one third of adults in the UK regularly get less than five hours a night. While the link between sleep deprivation and heart disorders is well documented in previous research, the apparent discrepancy between the sexes is a newer observation.
More than 4,600 men and women were surveyed about their nocturnal patterns and length of sleep and underwent health screening including blood tests.
Researchers found that women who had between five and seven hours sleep had higher levels of the two chemicals (Interlukin-6 and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein), associated with a future of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease than men.
Michelle Miller, Professor of Biochemical Medicine at Warwick Medical School (who conducted the research with University College London) advised that everyone should aim for seven to eight hours a night, but that this was even more important for women.
Five tips for a restful slumber
1. Remove all distractions from the bedroom, such as TVs, radios and computers. Keep it a place of tranquillity.
2. Something as simple as breathing exercises or meditation can help relax the mind, leaving you calm for a good night's sleep. Try this simple technique: breathe in through your nose for three seconds using your abdomen not your chest. Then breathe out for three seconds. Wait another three before repeating. Practice this for 10 minutes each night.
3. While it's fine to have a nightcap, having too much alcohol before bed will disturb your sleep as it acts as a stimulant. Also, drinking is also more likely to lead to snoring, which can restrict air flow to the lungs. This reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood which can disturb sleep and also contributes to your hangover.
4. It might sound obvious but caffeine before sleep is never a good idea. However it does not only mean tea and coffee, this includes staying away from chocolate and cola at bedtime.
5. Eating a large, heavy meal too close to bedtime will interfere with your sleep. Also foods such as bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine contain tyramine, a chemical causing the release of the brain stimulant norepinephrine which could keep you awake at night. It's best to stay away from spicy or fatty foods too, as these can lead to heartburn.
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