Do you suffer a lot from unconscious wakefulness? It happens when the body momentarily wakes from sleep in response to noise, temperature or light; you usually don’t remember whether you’ve done this or not, but you can tell sometimes if you get sleepy the following day.
This week, a study published in the European Heart Journal revealed that women who experience “unconscious wakefulness” increased their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease from 6.7 percent to 12.8 percent.
The research was done by academics from the University of Adelaide, who looked at the sleep patterns of over 8000 people.
The University of Adelaide’s Associate Professor Mathias Baumert and Dutch institution Maastricht University’s Associate Professor Dominik Linz, led the team which found evidence to suggest that women’s risk was also greater despite men experiencing unconscious wakefulness more frequently.
“The triggers causing an arousal or the body’s response to arousal may differ in women compared to men,” Prof Linz said.
“This may explain the relatively higher risk of cardiovascular death in women. Women and men may have different compensatory mechanisms for coping with the detrimental effects of arousal.”
“Women may have a higher arousal threshold and so this may result in a higher trigger burden in women compared to men.”
According to Professor Linz, age, BMI, noise and sleep apnoea were all factors that caused someone’s “arousal burden” to increase.
“We need to advise our patients to take care of their sleep and practice good sleep ‘hygiene’,” he added. “Measures to minimise noise pollution during the night, lose weight and treat sleep apnoea could also help to reduce the arousal burden.”