Women need far more sleep than men and suffer more mentally and physically if forced to go without it, research said. Lack of sleep can also put them at higher risk of heart disease, depression and psychological problems, it said. Women whose sleep is regularly disturbed or particularly those who have difficulty falling asleep are more likely to have higher levels in their blood of a substance linked to Type II diabetes, according to the research by Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Men's health, however, appeared to be far less dependent on how well they sleep, it added. Women were found to have suffered much more when deprived of sleep but men with sleeping problems showed no increased risk of the conditions like stroke and depression that were affecting women.
Dr Edward Suarez, associate professor in Duke's department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences, said, ''The study suggests that poor sleep-- measured by the total amount of sleep, the degree of awakening during the night, and most importantly, how long it takes to get to sleep-- may have more serious health consequences for women than for men.'' He said the differences between men and women could be attributed to variations in the activity of the number of naturally-occurring substances in the body, such as the amino acid tryptophan, the neurotransmitter serotonin, and the hormone melatonin, all of which are known to affect mood, sleep, onset of sleep, inflammation and insulin resistance.