As if women juggling family, careers, and other stressful activities didn’t have enough to worry about, along comes a new study stating that those who “feel sleepy” during the day may be at higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Yet even after an 8 year study involving data amassed from questionnaires filled out by 84,003 women in the Nurses Health Study II from 2001 to 2009, James Gangwisch of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons has found himself unable to determine whether poor sleep habits result from illnesses such as diabetes, or insufficient sleep caused by stress, depression, working shifts and other disturbances cause the illness in the first place. The point, however, may be moot, since he found that many of the women who stated that they had trouble falling asleep, experienced either unusually short (less than 5 hours a night) or overly long periods of sleep, and /or snored were also the ones who suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and depression.
It should also be noted that while Gangswisch also factored in variables such as whether the women worked on shifts, as well as their use of aspirin and other medication every 2 years during the course of the study, he and his team noted that the women who said they “felt drowsy almost every day were almost 3 times as likely to have been diagnosed with heart disease as those who practically never felt the need for a nap during the day.” When it was over 500 of the participants had been diagnosed with heart disease or stroke.
“People need to get adequate good quality sleep. This can often be achieved by keeping to regular schedules, and allowing adequate time in bed to sleep, as well as maintaining a comfortable sleep environment in terms of darkness, temperature, and humidity,” he stated. He also suggested that ”People who are often sleepy during the day should see their doctors, and noted that “excessive daytime drowsiness is often caused by problems that can be easily treated.