Sleep deprivation, though not having proven cause and effects, is serious enough to be considered a health risk. Recent research study has shown that women who slept five or fewer hours were more likelier to have a heart attack than those who get the suggested eight hours. However, too much sleep isn't good, either, as researchers found that those women who slept nine or more hours a night also increased their heart disease risk.
The study, conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, evaluated some 71,617 women ages 45 to 65 who did not have reported heart disease at the start of the study -- and followed them over 10 years to detect any association between sleep habits and heart attacks. Each had answered questions about sleep duration in 1986, 10 years after the study began. Researchers found that women who sleep five or fewer hours have an 82 percent higher risk of heart attack than those who get the suggested eight hours, even after adjusting for age differences. Women who sleep six hours a night boost their heart attack risk by 30 percent. However, it was also indicated that those women who slept nine or more hours a night increased their heart disease risk by 57 percent.
Dr. Najib T. Ayas, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia, who conducted the research, added that previous studies in men have also shown similar results and that the reason for an increased heart attack risk could be because sleep deprivation can cause physiological changes -- such as boosting blood pressure -- that, in turn, up heart disease risk. Dr. Najib concluded that while eight hours of sleep was optimal, seven actually wasn't too bad, as getting seven hours of sleep produced almost the same amount of risk as getting eight hours.