Those with existing health conditions are most at risk
Getting less than six hours of sleep a night could double the risk of an early death for chronic disease sufferers, a new study has found.
Researchers from the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine sleep-tested 16,000 adults between the ages of 20 and 74 and tracked their health for 20 years.
The results, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, revealed that individuals with existing conditions such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes were twice as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke if they slept less than six hours a night.
Insufficient sleep was also linked to forgetfulness, stress and low mood, alongside heightening the risk of obesity, diabetes and respiratory problems.
The study also found that less than six hours of slumber a night upped the chances of individuals with heart disease or history of a stroke developing cancer.
“We’re not saying that short sleep was a cause of cancer,” said sleep psychologist and lead study author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza. “We know that people with heart disease are more likely to have immune problems and develop cancer.
“And we know that there is a tight link between sleep and the immune system – sleep-deprived people have higher levels of inflammation.
“There is a lot of evidence showing that people in young adulthood or middle age who have risk factors for heart disease such as hypertension or even diabetes are at greater risk of ending up developing cancer down the road.”
A 2018 study found the average person living in the UK slept between 5.78 and 6.83 hours a night. The recommended amount of sleep per night for an adult is between seven and nine hours.
An estimated 15 million people in the UK live with a long-term chronic health condition.