Women who wake up in the night are up to twice as likely to die young, a new study has warned.
Despite the startling statistics, females could reduce their risk by blocking out sounds with ear plugs or losing weight.
The research of 8,000 men and women looked at “unconscious wakefulness” during the night, which everyone experiences.
It happens as part of the body’s ability to respond to potentially dangerous situations, like noise, pain, lights and temperature.
Even obstruction to breathing, a symptom of sleep apnoea, can also push someone into unconscious wakefulness.
These moments during the night won’t necessarily be remembered the next morning but will make someone sleepy the next day.
The research, conducted by the University of Adelaide, found these disruptions could be linked to high blood pressure if frequent.
They used data from three separate studies in which participants wore a sleep monitor during one night’s sleep.
Each were given a percentage score which combined how often they woke up, for how long, and how long they slept in total.
Participants were followed up over a period of several years, which ranged from an average of six years to 11 years.
Associate professor Mathias Baumert, who led the study, and his colleagues found women woke up in the night less than men.
But the impacts appeared to be greater, particularly on their risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Women who woke up in the night most (6.5% of their night’s sleep) had a 60-100% greater risk of dying from heart problems.
Their risk of death by cardiovascular disease was 12.8% compared to 6.7%.
Meanwhile the risk of death from all causes was also increased by 20-60%.
Overall it rose from 21% in the general population of women to 31.5%.
The findings was less significant in men, according to the findings published in the European Heart Journal.
Those who woke up the most had a 13.4%-33.7% risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or any cause.
This was compared to 9.6%-28% of men who did not wake up often.
Co-author Dominik Linz, from Maastricht University Medical Centre, said it was unclear why there was a difference between genders.
But he said he may be explained by differences in how the body responds to being woken in the night.
Dominik also said being older, fatter and snoring more doesn’t help.
He said: “Age cannot be changed, but BMI and sleep apnoea can be modified and may represent a target to reduce arousal burdens.
“Whether this will translate into lower risks of dying from cardiovascular disease warrants further study.
“For me as a physician, a high arousal burden helps to identify patients who may be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
“We need to advise our patients to take care of their sleep and practice good sleep ‘hygiene’.”