Lack of sleep a ‘ticking time bomb’ for health

Lack of sleep is a ticking tme bomb for health.Not enough sleep increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems, say UK researchers.

Burning the candle at both ends increases your risk of suffering from a stroke or heart disease and dying prematurely, new research suggests.

“If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48 per cent greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15 per cent greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke,” said Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the University of Warwick Medical School.

He also warned: “The trend for late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health so you need to act now to reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.”

The professor and co-author Dr Michelle Miller followed up evidence carried out over seven to 25 years from more than 470,000 people from eight countries including Japan, USA, Sweden and the UK.

Dr Miller said that chronic lack of sleep leads to the production of hormones and chemicals in the body which increase the risk of developing serious health problems such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke.

Professor Cappuccio also added: “There is an expectation in today’s society to fit more into our lives. The whole work/life balance struggle is causing too many of us to trade in precious sleeping time to ensure we complete all the jobs we believe are expected of us.

“But in doing so, we are significantly increasing the risk of suffering a stroke or developing cardiovascular disease resulting in, for example, heart attacks.”

However, he also warned of the dangers of going too far the other way, as sleeping for too long – more than nine hours at a stretch – can be an indicator of illness, including cardiovascular disease.

He advised: “By ensuring you have about seven hours sleep a night, you are protecting your future health, and reducing the risk of developing chronic illnesses. The link is clear from our research: get the sleep you need to stay healthy and live longer.”

The report findings are published in the European Heart Journal

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