Poor sleeping habits may result in fatigue, loss of concentration, and even weight gain, but a recent feature on the Huffington Post reveals a more dangerous side effect of losing those Z's-- inflammation.

University of California researcher Aric Prather, Ph.D. and his colleagues studied the sleep quality and inflammation levels of 700 senior citizens who have been diagnosed with stable coronary heart disease

Based on the results, women who experienced bad sleep regularly were more susceptible to greater inflammation. This may be due to the fact that the female participants were already menopausal and had lower estrogen levels. This negative effect, however, was not seen in men, whose stable testosterone levels seemed to protect them from inflammation.

"Inflammation is a well-known predictor of cardiovascular health," Prather notes. "Now we have evidence that poor sleep appears to play a bigger role than we had previously thought in driving long-term increases in inflammation levels and may contribute to the negative consequences often associated with poor sleep."

If you find yourself sleeping less and less, seek professional help. Don’t let your sleep problems lead to cardiovascular problems in the future.

(Photo by macattck via Flickr Creative Commons)

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