Poor sleep raises inflammation in women

Ladies, if you're battling heart disease, make sure you're not battling your pillow at the same time -- because lack of sleep can speed the progression of the disease, worsen the condition, and even put your life on the line.

The key here is inflammation; The higher your inflammation, the higher your heart risk (and other risks), especially if you already have heart disease. And if you already have the disease yourself, lack of sleep habits can send your inflammation levels soaring, according to a new study of more than 700 older men and women with heart disease.

The study didn't find the same effect on men, and the reason may be due to hormonal differences.

Older women see their estrogen levels plunge after menopause. Men, on the other hand, see a much more gradual decline in testosterone -- and while those testosterone levels aren't what they used to be, it could be just enough to help provide some protection here.

But whether you're a man or woman, young or old, facing disease or just hoping to avoid it, don't let lack of sleep habits linger -- because insomnia and other sleep disorders are a major risk factor for everything from cancer to dementia.

The answer here isn't a sleep drug. These meds do nothing about the actual cause of poor sleep -- and most don't increase the amount of quality sleep each night.

They also come with plenty of risks of their own -- including a risk of death, even with occasional use.

(Did you know than many over-the-counter drugs that are used for sleep, like Tylenol PM and Benadryl, could boost your risk for cognitive decline or dementia in as little as two months? If you've ever popped one of these pills you NEED to read this.)

Instead, work with your doctor to find and correct the true cause of your sleep problems.

In older patients, it's often those very same hormonal imbalances I just mentioned -- and those can be corrected with natural hormone supplementation. In other cases, however, lack of sleep can be caused by any combination of other conditions, including nutrition, lifestyle, stress, caffeine, and more.

A holistic doctor can run some tests that should uncover the answer and help you solve your sleep problems for good.