Lack of sleep can lead to premature death

2010-05-05 14:38

People who get less than six hours sleep a night have an increased

risk of dying prematurely.

Those who slumbered for less than that amount of time were 12% more

likely to die early, though researchers also found a link between sleeping more

than nine hours and premature death.

“If you sleep little, you can develop diabetes, obesity,hypertension and high cholesterol,” Francesco Cappuccio, who led

research on the subject at Britain’s University of Warwick, told AFP.

The study, conducted with the Federico II University in Naples,

Italy, aggregated decade-long studies from throughout the world involving more

than 1.3 million people and found “unequivocal evidence of the direct link”

between lack of sleep and premature


“We think that the relation between little sleep and illness is due

to a series of hormonal and metabolic mechanisms,” Cappuccio said.

The findings of the study were published in the Sleep


Cappuccio believes the duration of sleep is a public health issue

and should be considered as a behavioural risk factor by doctors.

“Society pushes us to sleep less and less,” Cappuccio said, adding

that about 20% of the population in the US and UK sleeps less than five


Sleeping less than six hours is “more common among full-time

workers, suggesting that it may be due to societal pressures for longer working

hours and more shift work”.

The study also found a link between sleeping more than nine hours a

night and premature death, but Cappuccio said oversleeping is more likely to be

an effect of illness, rather than a cause.

“Doctors never ask how much one sleeps, but that could be an

indicator that something is wrong,” said Cappuccio, who heads the sleep, health

and society programme at the University of Warwick.

Research showed no adverse effects for those sleeping between six

and eight hours a day.

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